Talent acquisition leaders from across the US gathered in Las Vegas for an in-depth discussion about data-driven recruiting (and some fun parties) at the Red Rock Casino Resort.

In between the handshakes, networking events and break-out sessions, leadership got down to the nitty gritty when it comes to using data to successfully run a recruiting team.

We joined the conference too, and while we were there, we threw a party, gave away some gifts. There was a resonating theme, that – although data is important, it isn’t the most important focus for recruiting – people are.

In an emerging industry, human resources (HR) technology is taking a turn towards recruiters leaning heavier on people analytics.

Even with this emphasis, we heard in Las Vegas, speakers emphasizing the importance of the human element of hiring.

While the human element is important, data is necessary for keeping an edge on the competition when it comes to recruiting success. Some of the top attendees at the conference agreed, citing how human eyes are always important on a resume, and the interview will always be necessary.

Talent acquisition data is not about size, it’s about value.

The ERE Recruiting Conference opened with a keynote speech from Corrinne Sandler, current CEO of ValidateIT – a platform that provides data analytics capabilities to people who aren’t prone to managing and analyzing numbers.

She’s a big believer in data and the impact it has on any organization. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t really think the phenomenon is that new for anyone. The only thing that’s new is the buzzword, big data.

She cited the popular work, The Art of War – a Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu – and Sandler’s favorite book. In it, she believes the main message is that no war has ever been won without intelligence, and it’s no different for recruiters.

People play a huge part in this intelligence. The data your recruiting team uses is not about size, but quality.

Sandler cites LinkedIn as a popular example. There is a ton of data to be found and analyzed on the LinkedIn platform, but there isn’t really any depth in this data. The data you use to drive your recruiting efforts should open up valuable intelligence and show leadership new opportunities in hiring for the future.

Speakers at the ERE Recruiting Conference took a deeper dive into what exactly your data should provide for your organization in order to be considered valuable.

You don’t just want any data, you want opportunity data.

Data should help your company improve, and not provide numbers that don’t actually make any difference when it comes to action items for your recruitment team.

An example of a metric that seems valuable but really isn’t, is one of the most commonly used across all of recruiting – cost-per-hire.

The cost-per-hire metrics only takes into account costs, which is not very useful as it doesn’t give leadership a window into the benefits the company accrued in taking on these costs, the return on investment (ROI).

We’ve argued that cost-per-hire should be replaced by ROI across the board, aligning with Sandler’s message that opportunity data for your recruiting department should provide the following benefits:

  • Expansion of the candidate pipeline
  • Improvement in decision making
  • Making the candidate experience remarkable
  • Making the hiring process fast and efficient

Focusing on this opportunity data will help to overcome the biggest problem facing talent acquisition leaders today; hiring managers think they don’t need you.

Other hot topics: hiring managers think they’re better recruiters than their recruiting team – but they’re wrong.

CEO of ERE Media, Ron Mester, took the stage on the first day of the conference to talk about his organization’s recent survey of talent acquisition leadership professionals, and the hiring managers they work with.

The survey revealed a rather shocking response – hiring managers as a whole think they can do a better job than recruiters at closing open roles.

In his presentation, Mester cited that nine percent of talent acquisition leaders have less than 2 years’ experience in a similar role. While the data didn’t reveal why, it could be a reason for lack of trust on behalf of hiring managers.

Their main concerns have more to do with time management and quality of the people who end up being hired in the long run. Their response:

  • They don’t see enough quality candidates to choose from
  • The hiring process is too long and too costly
  • There are too many challenges and inconsistencies in the hiring process
  • The systems aren’t great – Recruiting needs better technology

Communication between the hiring manager and the recruiter is the number one road block to solving all of the problems cited above, and it’s the one thing that talent acquisition departments are lacking.

“The main thing underlying this gap is a need for talent advisors,” Ron Mester said. “33 percent of hiring managers get no updates from recruiters, 26 percent only get updates when they ask, and 15 percent think that when they do get them, they’re useless.”

Even when there is communication, it’s not quality communication. Mester says we can solve this problem by turning recruiters into talent advisors, and spoke to a panel about his suggestion.

In order to fix the relationship between hiring manager and recruiter, your team needs to become talent advisors.

A talent advisor is a trusted recruiting partner that provides consultation and strategic advisory, and identifies, attracts and consistently delivers good talent.

David Watson is the Senior Director of North America Talent Acquisition and Integration for Avanade. Sitting on a panel at the ERE Recruiting Conference, he spoke about the characteristics he thinks you need to be a successful talent advisor – business acumen and courage.

But not everyone on the team needs to be a talent advisor. While some of the other panel members didn’t agree, he says that everyone has their strengths, and that he doesn’t think it’s wise for everyone on a team to be talent advisors if that’s not their strength.

“I don’t think every recruiter should be a talent advisor,” David Watson said. “Everyone on your team has different strengths.”

Whether you’re talking about the strength of your recruiting team, or the strength of different candidates, concentration on data is key. Understanding every aspect of the recruiting lifecycle gets easy when you really learn to leverage data in conjunction with your team

When you understand the context of your organization and the needs of your business, you can define goals, strategy and action items based on your data to move your organization forward.