6 Ways To Use Data For Better Talent Acquisition Strategy

Published on Oct 15, 2020

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Haley Yamane Melhart

6 Ways To Use Data For Better Talent Acquisition Strategy

Building out a talent acquisition strategy for any company’s recruiting efforts can be a daunting task. How do you begin implementing a plan when your team is already full speed ahead in its talent-seeking process? Spoiler: Data can help along the way.

Here are six simple ways to use labor market data to improve your talent acquisition strategy:

  1. Communicate expectations with hiring managers

  2. Prioritize your efforts for recruiting strategies

  3. Understand industry competition

  4. Look at recruiting college graduates

  5. Understand workforce diversity

  6. Upskill your current workforce

1. Communicating expectations with hiring managers

When hiring managers set parameters for job postings, they might be setting unrealistic ones (wage offers, for example) without even realizing it. This is a common mistake if you’re not using data to make informed decisions.

Let’s say you have a consulting business based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and are in need of graphic designers. Your hiring manager (initially) determines that $18 per hour is an appropriate offer for this position.

Data helps your hiring managers understand the current labor market conditions for the position. What is the average wage for graphic designers in the area? Is $18 per hour competitive? Will market conditions make recruiting in Charlotte difficult?

Data answers those questions with certainty. In this example, regional demand data shows the labor market for graphic designers has in fact increased in Charlotte by over 26% in recent years. This data also shows that there are 2,011 graphic designing jobs, with median earnings of $22 per hour.

Using this information, you can determine that qualified candidates in the area are probably not highly interested in your posting at $18 per hour. In this scenario, it is worthwhile to communicate these findings to the hiring manager. If the company is able to increase its wage offer, it’ll have a better talent pool to choose from and will save valuable time.

2. Prioritizing your efforts for recruiting strategies

To widen the talent pool, it’s helpful to expand your search to new regions and/or broaden the unique hard skills in your posting. Data breaks down the skills that reside in certain areas and helps you see if the skills you list are not realistic to find. Both these efforts will bolster your talent acquisition strategy by bringing the best candidates to the forefront of your search.

Maybe you don’t have the flexibility to increase your wage offer, so you determine that the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is not the best place to hire graphic designers for your company. What do you do next? How do you decide where to look?

Let’s lean on data again to discover a region with more favorable conditions and larger talent pools. If you look at Philadelphia for example, the demand for graphic designers has increased by about 3% since 2013 (about 9% less than the national average).

This means there’s a high likelihood of designers in that area who are unemployed, or perhaps working in different fields by necessity but have the skills you need. Since Charlotte isn’t that far from Philadelphia, the idea of relocation for these candidates probably isn’t far-fetched.

(Note: This brings up relocation packages. If your company doesn’t have a relocation package, you might need to convince the hiring manager to offer one. In this case, be prepared to answer the question: What would it cost the company if the position goes unfilled?)

3. Understanding industries and their competition

Wherever you decide to search for talent, you should consider your competition.

Knowing exactly who the competing companies are and who is winning the talent you need is essential to crafting your talent acquisition strategy. Additionally, looking at businesses that house the skills you’re looking for will help you determine where you might be able to pluck talent from.

Let’s say you decide to move your search for graphic designers to D.C. In this case, what other industries or businesses employ graphic designers?

Using data, we can determine that the largest portion (7%) of all graphic designers in D.C. work in the computer systems design services industry. The rest of the majority work in administrative management and general management consulting services (6.9%); public relations agencies (6.1%); the federal government, civilian, excluding postal service (5.7%); and graphic design services (5.1%).

This information tells you that while you need graphic designers, the majority of that talent in D.C. is actually found outside the “graphic design services” occupation. In this case, it’s worth diving deeper into the computer systems design services industry to see which businesses fall into this category (and how you can get their attention).

4. College recruiting in your talent acquisition strategy

What better audience to look at for sourcing talent than upcoming college graduates?

Recruiters should actively look for opportunities to set up direct relationships with different colleges and get the attention of those students. Continuing with our graphic design example, knowing which schools graduate the largest pool of graphic designers is an important part of a healthy talent strategy.

Looking at the data, you can confirm that in 2017, 288 people in North Carolina graduated from graphic design programs. Lenoir Community College was at the top of the list, followed by North Carolina State University at Raleigh. If your computer programming firm doesn’t have relationships with these schools already, you might want to create them.

We also see that nearly all of these graduates are U.S. citizens, and 126 are considered diverse graduates. Comparing other schools by region in this way allows you to quickly view the diversity amongst programs and assess your recruiting efforts in those areas.

5. Understanding workforce diversity

As diverse hiring initiatives continue to become prevalent amongst many organizations, data can help tremendously. Using diversity data allows recruiters to hone in on their talent acquisition strategy by targeting locations that house diverse talent.

Data can help you understand race, ethnicity, and gender for occupations by region, and thus help you optimize your recruiting efforts in already diverse markets.

You can also compare your region’s workforce to the workforce of surrounding regions to set a benchmark and measure the success of your diversity program.

Going back to your consulting business, let’s say you’re considering a major, multi-year project with the federal government that requires a racially diverse workforce. As a result, your search for graphic designers now needs to take racial diversity into account.

Using data, you can determine that in Baltimore, about 22% of the graphic design workforce is considered diverse, but this percentage only represents about 340 people. Tricky.

The story changes in D.C., just a few miles away. Over 1,600 graphic designers qualify as diverse—nearly 31% of all graphic designers in D.C.

As an additional step, let’s look at the colleges in D.C. and Maryland to see which schools might have the most diverse graduates. First, data shows that the Maryland Institute College of Art has the most graphic design graduates per year. That is followed by Anne Arundel Community College and American University.

Of schools with the most diverse grads, both the Maryland Institute College of Art and the University of the District of Columbia would be great places to start your search for diversity.

Further reading: The Importance of Diversity Recruiting in This New Era of College Recruiting

6. Upskilling your current workforce

When filling roles within your own organization, looking internally at the skills your employees already have (and could transfer to more high-demand roles) saves you time and money in recruiting and onboarding a brand new employee. This “build don’t buy” approach is a great way to efficiently contribute to your talent acquisition strategy.

Doing a skills inventory of your organization allows you to identify opportunities for internal employee mobility (upskilling) while saving lots of time looking at external candidates for sources of staffing. When a company upskills its workforce, it demonstrates commitment to employee growth, support of advancement opportunities, and the importance of employee retention.

If you’d like to find out how your business can use Emsi data to drive recruitment, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!