The Last Strategic Recruiting Frontier — Sourcing Using Consumer Data

Recruiting leaders are constantly looking for strategic opportunities, which admittedly are rare in this progressive field. There is only one big missed opportunity in strategic recruiting and that is … harnessing consumer data to direct source passive prospects. Unless you have adapted a big data approach to recruiting, you will undoubtedly be shocked to learn that the most accurate and useful profile that you can get on a potential recruiting prospect doesn’t come from LinkedIn or their resume.

Instead it can be gotten from data brokers who sell consumer data. Imagine the recruiting possibilities if you had a complete profile of literally every employed passive prospect in your area … and that this profile included their job title and company but also their income, ZIP Code, a list of behaviors that would indicate that they were a top performer, and best of all, that they are about to seek a new job.

This last strategic frontier in recruiting goes by several names, including consumer data, credit card data, and sales leads. Let me go on record by saying that consumer data is the most powerful direct sourcing tool that almost no one in the world of corporate recruiting is using.

Why Consumer Data Has Recently Become so Valuable

Consumer data/sales leads are certainly not new. What is new is the tremendous volume of information on literally every consumer around the world. The growth of Internet signups, credit cards, and customer loyalty programs means that you can now get a profile of almost everyone. In addition, the ability to customize and sort this data has increased dramatically so that it can now be effectively used to predict future behaviors. The incredible predictive value of consumer data has been proven in presidential elections and at retail marketing at firms like Target and Amazon.

Recently, using consumer data to monitor individuals and to predict future behavior has even entered into in healthcare. For example, Carolina’s HealthCare is using information on its patient’s consumer purchases to predict which patients are most likely to get sick because of their lifestyle. Executives on the business side have already learned how to use big consumer data, so recruiting is overdue in using it for sourcing prospects and for better selling candidates. With the right predictive algorithm, recruiting can now successfully identify and approach desirable individuals before they actively enter the job market and before every other firm begins to bid on them. To put it bluntly, there is no other source that covers every employable individual.

The Advantages of Recruiting From Consumer Data Profiles

The information provided from consumer data makes it a compelling sourcing tool. And before you start worrying about legal issues, remember that because these individuals are not technically applicants, you have more latitude in using demographic and psychographic data to identify them. Privacy is also not an issue because the information has been gained legally, and in any case, the use of consumer data does not have to be revealed to anyone. The recruiting prospect in particular does not need to know how you identified them. Some of the many advantages of using consumer data for identifying prospects include:

  • Coverage — unlike social media, where you have to sign up and fill out a profile, consumer data automatically covers every consumer.
  • Passive coverage – because it covers almost every consumer, it is particularly effective in identifying and assessing the so-called passive prospect, which includes the 80 percent of the working population that is not actively seeking a current opening. These non-lookers simply can’t be found using active sourcing approaches like job boards and corporate career pages. You can use it to find a wide range of individuals, including those who don’t want to be found on LinkedIn/social media. It can also be micro-targeted to find college students and women that have dropped out of the workforce.
  • Current occupation  most consumer data reveals a targets current and past job titles and the firms where they worked. You can buy consumer data that is targeted exclusively to any specific occupation.
  • Income – income information simply can’t be found on LinkedIn or even in resumes. However, because everyone lists their income when getting credit, it’s possible to figure out how much a target is currently getting paid and in many cases, their pay history. Income information is also useful. With it, recruiters can determine if your firm can afford to hire a particular prospect. It can also be used during salary negotiations with a candidate to determine their current pay level. However, you still have to consider total equity, which includes stock and bonuses.
  • Predictors of an upcoming job search – the best part of using consumer data is that you can use it to accurately predict future behavior. For example, if you put together an effective algorithm covering on average how long a target has been in a job (compared to previous jobs), their rate of income growth, and other factors, you can estimate the likelihood of them considering a new job or internal move in the immediate future.
  • Indicators of learning and a top performer – since most consumer data covers where individuals spend their money, you can spot indicators of whether they spend their money on learning and development. This information could include subscriptions, associations that they join, and conferences and seminars that they attend. You can also use frequent income increases as an indication that this individual is a top performer who is frequently rewarded by their current firm.
  • Where they live – because consumer data reveals the ZIP Code where prospects live, you can narrow your search to those who live within a reasonable commuting distance of the facility where you are hiring. Because the information includes the location of any second or vacation home, you may be able to convince some prospects to work for you at a location close to that second home.
  • Complete contact information – consumer data can provide almost every avenue that is available to contact a targeted individual.
  • New movers – consumer data reveals individuals who have recently moved into your recruiting area.
  • Education – consumer data profiles reveal not only education level but also current enrollment in technical courses.
  • Diversity – some consumer data even reveals whether the individual is diverse, for the cases where you want to proactively reach out to diverse individuals.
  • Dual usage – consumer data covering recruiting prospects may already be available in your firm’s consumer marketing division, so access to it may cost recruiting nothing. If it is not, its value increases if it can also be used by your firm to attract new customers.

Consumer data can include much more information that you may or may not want to request, including age, marital status, hobbies, home ownership, and interests. You can also combine it with information that you obtain from LinkedIn profiles and resumes in order to get a complete picture of which passive prospects you should approach.

An Example of How You Can Use This Data

Let’s look at an example. If you are lucky and your targeted individual is on LinkedIn, you can already find out that Mary Smith is an engineer working at your competitor, the XYZ Company. What if you also got a consumer data profile that went further and also indicated that she made $10,000 less per year then you would pay her and that she lived within commuting distance of your facility? But what if analytics could tell you that there was a 90 percent chance that she would begin looking for a new job in the next six months? The consumer data profile could also indicate that she was likely a top performer at her firm because of her pattern of income increases. The profile could also tell you what publications she paid for, what books she purchased, what associations she was a member of, and even what conferences she has attended.

In short, consumer data has the capability of providing almost everything you need in direct sourcing in order to convince currently top-performing employed individuals (who are relatively happy where they are) that they should consider the one and only other opportunity that they are aware of, and that is the opportunity to work at your firm.

Final Thoughts

I have long been an advocate of what I call “parallel benchmarking,” where recruiting learns about successful business processes (i.e. supply chain and CRM) and then adapts them to recruiting. Well, the time has come for recruiting to reach across the aisle to learn from marketing and sales, who are experts in using consumer data and sales leads. They can help you find out how to better understand and reach out to high-value prospects and then how to better sell them as candidates once they have applied.

If you’re worried about managing this direct sourcing database, fear not. You can buy this data relatively inexpensively from data brokers, and fortunately they do all the data management in sorting work for you, so you don’t have to manage and update the data. There are many different sources for this data including acxiom.comand If money is an issue, some data brokers even offer free trials.

You may choose to pass up this amazing opportunity, but I predict that the use of consumer data in recruiting will become commonplace within as few as three years from now. It covers every consumer around the globe, it provides valuable income information, and finally because big data alone allows you to predict future job search actions.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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