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How Data is Changing Hiring

Recently, Searchlight hosted a roundtable discussion with like-minded people leaders who firmly believe data has the power to change recruiting and hiring for organizations.

Benji Enczfounder of Ashby, Daniel Grayson, Recruiting Operations Manager at Rippling, and McKenna Quint, former Head of People at Plaid and Cruise, sat down with Searchlight CEO Kerry Wang.

Here are the top highlights and takeaways from their talk. The full video is linked below!


"If we get better at structuring the information that we get through the recruiting process and turning it into data, it makes a better experience for the candidate and turns them into a more empowered employee."

McKenna Quint, former Head of People at Plaid and Cruise

Data can humanize hiring

Seems counterintuitive, right? A lot of people might think using data to hire is like looking at a big, soulless grid of ones and zeros. But the greatest opportunity for data in hiring is in its ability to give power back to the talent and the team. Prescriptive data creates a feedback loop that allows decisions to be made and problems to be addressed in real time. If your team gets better about structuring the information garnered through the recruiting process, it can actually inform and empower candidates to better identify their strengths and growth opportunities. Use data to push back on outdated hiring practices—the best data will actually put the human first.

“If we get better at structuring the information that we get through the recruiting process and turning it into data, it makes a better experience for the candidate and turns them into a more empowered employee.” – McKenna Quint, former Head of People at Plaid and Cruise


Recruiting teams need better analytics

What spurred Benji to start his recruiting software company, Ashby, was his own experience as a recruiting manager. Insights were hard to get and gave him and his team little visibility into what was actually working versus what wasn’t. Plus, nothing was real-time. When founding Ashby and interviewing potential customers, reporting consistently led as the biggest pain-point for recruiting teams. Daniel concurs that more data isn’t the answer if you’re not collecting the data correctly.

“I work with a team of really, really, really strong recruiters. Still, it was only until we had the right data structures in place that I was able to take action and correct some things that we were doing wrong all along.” – Daniel Grayson, Recruiting Operations Manager, Rippling


Give your team room to experiment

Just like any other team, a recruiting team needs to have the ability to experiment and learn and get better as they go. McKenna noticed that hiring specialized roles, like an analytics person on her team at Cruise, allowed a more nuanced approach to data metrics. The team benefitted from tracking metrics outside of standard KPIs. This improved data and benchmarking, which ultimately helped bring more top talent into the company. Obviously, having a people analytics team can be prohibitive for many companies in terms of cost, scale and talent. But the takeaway is that recruiting can drive strategic initiatives at a company. After all, the foundation of a company is built on its people, and the recruiting team finds those people.

“I really wanted my people and recruiting team at Cruise to have the ability to experiment and learn. I was lucky enough to hire an analytics team and they helped us figure out how to hire better during our very high growth years. We went from 150 to almost 1,500 people in two and a half years because we had the right data and processes in place.” – McKenna Quint, former Head of People, Plaid and Cruise


Having information and using information correctly are two different things

Current and previous generation recruiting software was built to solve workflow problems. You input data and it sits around and maybe you dust it off later on. But on the vanguard is a new world of recruiting effectiveness and productivity. Your recruiting data shouldn’t be stagnant on a server somewhere—it should be working for you and making you more efficient! The biggest opportunity for recruiting software now is enabling teams to do a better job defining roles and success criteria and then incorporating it into their future hiring model. Doing so will not only illuminate key analytics about recruitment, it will put them in motion.

“We have a gigantic opportunity to question what elements of conventional wisdom don't hold true around who you should be hiring. We should use recruiting data to push back on historical practices.” – Daniel Grayson, Recruiting Operations Manager, Rippling


Recruiting needs to be seen as a strategic investment

Often companies view recruiting roles as a cost center rather than a fundamental asset. For this perception to change, a few things need to happen. First, traditional reporting lines need to be updated. Recruiting traditional reports to the CFO or Chief Legal Officer—roles built around managing costs. This structure restricts the impact that recruiting should and can have. Secondly, to better demonstrate their ROI, recruiting teams need to measure and report on metrics that matter to the business. For example, measuring the ratio of high performers at a company and these employees’ impact on the business’ top line will help higher-ups understand how recruiting drives the overall company health. You manage what you measure—and organizations need to measure quality of hire.

“If you don't measure hiring quality, you can't manage for it. The big push right now is to get recruiting and business leaders to work collaboratively to measure quality of hire so that we can start thinking more strategically about recruiting as a whole.” – Kerry Wang, CEO, Searchlight


Parting thoughts

We asked each of our participants what words of wisdom they’d want to leave our audience with. Here’s what they said:

McKenna: Lean into data, don’t run away from it. Data has the power to build a much better candidate experience, a better employee experience, a more efficient talent market.

Benji: Building the right foundation in recruiting from day one is key—think about building the capability in-house and have your entire team think about recruiting. 

Daniel: Think critically and take the opportunity to ask yourself ‘how can I do this (recruiting) work better?’