A while ago, a bunch of my friends were publicly back-lashing Facebook’s messenger app.
Someone had made a video detailing all the permissions the app was asking for including your camera and microphone, causing everyone to panic in fear of losing their privacy. Facebook and a number of tech sites responded, telling people to calm down. Your privacy wasn’t being invaded and the new app wasn’t asking for anything different from what you had previously given permission for.
Turns out it was kinda true. It’s true, your phone wasn’t all of a sudden being turned into a NSA tracking device for all your conversations and photos, but it didn’t mean Facebook wasn’t interested in learning all your consuming habits.
Having recently run a handful of Facebook campaigns, I can tell you, Facebook understands you better than you might think. They know basic demographics like your age, gender, and location, but that’s nothing new. What’s interesting is all the other stuff Facebook knows about you. They can tell if you are a recent home buyer. They know if you’ve provided charitable donations to animal welfare. They know if you’re likely to move. They know what kind of pets you have.
Why do they track all this information? Why do they want to know you so intimately?
So they can predict what you’re likely to buy. Because if they can predict what you’re likely to buy, they can make a very attractive offer to advertisers looking to sell you their goods and services.
But Facebook isn’t the only company that’s been doing this. Amazon knows what books to suggest to you based on your purchase behavior. Google knows what sites you visit and in what order. They know what temperature you set your thermostat to. And they even know where you sleep. Perhaps the most baffling was a story from several years ago, where Target knew a teenager was pregnant before her own father did.
So you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with your career and the future of hiring? Well…lots actually.
The Race to Talent Analytics
All this time, businesses have been racing for information about their customers, what they will want next and who to connect them with. They know more about our behavior than some of us know about ourselves.
Yet for some reason HR systems and departments have been lagging behind the rest of the business in how they attract and hire the talent that fuels their companies.
We know everything we can about our customers, but we barely know anything about Bob in sales, or Mary the applicant for the accounting position?
Whether a company is hiring internally or finding fresh talent from outside, the data with which we make our most important business decisions (who works for the company) is seriously flawed.
Just look at the typical hiring process to see what I mean.
You start by accepting resumes from hundreds of candidates interested in the position. You have no clue how true any of the information submitted is, with some surveys reporting that as much as 46% of resumes submitted by job applicants contained some measure of false information.
You then have the candidate fill out some basic demographic information about themselves, but none of this really tells you how they’ll perform on the job.
Lastly, you interview your top picks, where the candidate comes in, puts on their best face and rehearses a handful of handpicked anecdotes to get them hired.
You then call a person or two from a list of the candidate’s closest friends and managers, who of course tell you, you’re hiring the right person.
If there isn’t a more subjective, risky approach to who we hire, I don’t know what is.
And that’s why businesses are starting to change how they hire in the future.
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, once said, “HR should be every company’s ‘killer app.’ What could possibly be more important than who gets hired?”
He was right. Every business outcome a company generates, was performed by a human being. Someone a hiring manager decided to bring into the company.
And it’s no surprise, hiring the way we do, that there’s a tremendous amount of disengaged employees in the workforce today. One headline from a Gallup survey on the State of the Global Workplace claimed, “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work.” We all know, where there’s disengagement there’s low productivity and profits. So it makes sense that businesses would like to prevent bad hiring from ever happening in the first place.
Welcome to the World of Predictive Talent Analytics
So how are they starting to do this? Through a little process called “predictive talent analytics.”
Think Moneyball for your hiring.
Instead of hiring people based on who you liked best, or who “felt” most qualified, you hire based on a collection of data. Most notably, behavior data around how a potential employee would perform in the role.
Businesses are looking closer at their employees and what top performers have in common behaviorally, so they can then find others with those same work behaviors to perform these roles. Likewise, they are learning from the low performers, what kinds of traits cause them to burnout or under perform in the job. Knowing this, companies can avoid hiring people who will likely find the job tedious, unfulfilling or outside their comfort zone.
So for example, let’s say you were managing a large call center for a well respected financial firm. About 12 weeks into their training, they need to pass a certification test in order to be qualified to talk finances with a customer. However you find, that by the time most employees reach 12 weeks in the new job, only 40% pass the test.
You run some behavior and motivator assessments on the group that passed, and find they overwhelmingly had a motivation style that was fueled by a desire to learn. That to them, getting certified was worth the price of admission for the job to begin with.
Likewise, you find in common with the people who quit before ever taking the certification exam, very little of this motivators style in their kit. Would you like to know how future potential employees scored on this trait?
By understanding how a job rewards certain behaviors and tying that to the actual human beings performing the work, you can better predict what it takes to be successful in the role.
Google has been using talent analytics in their HR for years. Google’s VP Laszlo Bock explains the reasoning behind Google’s people analytics saying, “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics. The goal is to bring the same level of rigor to people-decisions that we do to engineering decisions.” In return, their employees are happier, more productive and the company makes nearly a $1 million in revenue per employee as a result.
If you think this is a trend that only Google is concerned with, you’d be wrong. In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014, talent analytics was listed as one of the top three most urgent trends by large companies.
How to Make Sure You’re Prepared For What’s to Come
So what does this mean for you, and how can you prepare for a world where companies, not people, are looking for the right job fit?
Start by understanding yourself. Don’t wait for a company to hand you a talent assessment to learn what your soft skills are. Get ahead of the game by investing in yourself and purchasing an assessment around your unique talents and work styles.
Knowing what kind of work you’re good at and enjoy is imperative to your career happiness, so why wouldn’t you want to know this about yourself in the first place?
That way, as you apply for jobs, you can feel confident that you’ll not only be a fit for the company, you’ll be a fit for yourself.
Take control of your own future instead of letting a company decide where you’re a good fit or not.
Should You be Scared?
Depending on the type of person you are, the story at the beginning might have creeped you out a bit. All this data being collected around our daily lives can feel a bit “Big Brother” at times. But, I’m optimistic this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
In the end, a company is concerned mostly about completing their business outcomes. And they’re learning you can’t succeed as a business without attracting and retaining talent that is engaged and fulfilled in their roles. Employee turnover is usually one of the company’s biggest variable costs, and that’s a big deal to them.
Using predictive talent analytics to find better job fits is a win/win for the employer and the employee. As much as we all like having a job, we also know how much we dislike having a job that makes us miserable. That asks us to be someone we really aren’t *cough* “SALES” *cough*.
I’m excited to see how the world of hiring catches up to the world of marketing and data. I think employers and employees both have a lot to learn about each other and predictive talent analytics is one step in the right direction.