Little Data, the X-Factor of HR

This past week, the authors of Blogging4Jobs wrote 32 articles about Big Data. Currently, Big Data is the hottest trending topic in Human Resources. HR professionals are focusing on gathering data and making decisions that will affect the future of a company. Without a doubt, data doesn’t lie. Computers are becoming smarter. The 1980’s movie War Games, and even more recently, the television series Point of Interest show examples of “smart” computers. We can more accurately identify potential “ripples” that have trickle down effects that affect a company and its employees. This has a direct effect on HR.

Little Data, the X-Factor of HR

Data for me is a love/ hate relationship. As a recruiter, I understand and value data. Whatever makes my job easier, I have to take a close look at. I have to say though, I am old school. I still believe there is a lot of value in the subtle things that a computer may not be able to pick up.

Recently, I have been asked if I think computers will ever replace recruiters. I believe strongly that this will never happen. Data will make things more efficient. Data will help you make great hiring decisions that will lead to potentially great employees. The one thing Recruiters have over data is that they are the X Factor.

People are humans. People have emotions. People have motivations for looking for a new opportunity. People make mistakes. People are in relationships with other humans. People have addictions. People get sick. People die. People have family. You see, a computer and data doesn’t always look at this type of data. The Little Data that Big Data doesn’t put into their equation is some of the most relevant information that is needed when making a hire.

Recruiters can learn more from a conversation with an individual then they would ever learn on a piece of paper. People like to talk a lot about themselves. The key to recruitment is finding out what makes someone tick. They will talk to you about jobs, skills, length of employment, prior employers, etc. The X factor though is finding out what is going on in their lives and what is most important to them at that particular moment in time.  It may not match up with any other decisions they have ever made.

While we must embrace what is happening in technology, we must not forget the basics. From the beginning of time until the end of time, we are all humans and we all must interact with one another. Embrace technology, but don’t forget about the little data that ONLY humans are able to extract from one another.

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Will Thomson

Will Thomson lives in Austin, Texas, and works for Rosetta Stone as the global sales and marketing recruiter. He has been in recruitment and sales for 20 years. He has recruited some of the most sought-after talent around the globe, and is a regular blogger for the recruitment industry. Connect with Will.

Reader Interactions


  1. Gusuku says

    I disagree. Studies after studies (based on data again) have shown that human recruiters fall back when compared to algorithmic recruiters.


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