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Christopher Barncastle

By: Christopher Barncastle on December 15th, 2020

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The Definitive Data Guide For Data-Driven Recruiting

The Data-Driven Recruiting Model

The data-driven model for recruiting is one that uses data to optimize the entire hiring process. You must have the right data and then extract value by gleaning insights that inform your decisions and guide your actions.

Even in today’s economic environment, organizations are having a hard time finding the talent they need. High applicant-to-hire ratios, expensive external recruiters, and a convoluted patchwork of talent acquisition tools result in longer times-to-hire and frustrated internal stakeholders. Diversity and Inclusion goals go unmet. And, most of the time, companies access just a small percentage of the relevant talent.

What if Talent Acquisition (TA) could identify and engage all relevant candidates in the market, passive candidates as well as active job seekers? This would provide employers with a larger, more diverse pool of qualified candidates, rather than just a slice gleaned from posted jobs or LinkedIn.

What’s required is to gather data on the entire population of relevant talent and create a data set that is specific to the needs of the company and business. 


Peter Sondergaard Information Analytics Quote

Peter Sondergaard formerly of Gartner is quoted as saying “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.”

Brendan Browne, the VP of Global Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn states “The recruiting organization that figures out how to extract the value of data will define the future of talent acquisition.”

Ohad Zaslavsky, Vice President of HR Global Talent Acquisition at Intel suggests that ‘data is key. It’s not just having data to report KPI’s and metrics; it’s the insights that drive the actions.'


Intellectually, most of us agree with these quotes but how should talent acquisition put this into practice? Where should talent acquisition begin when embracing data-driven recruiting? Answering this is like peeling an onion. 

Before achieving your desired business impacts, you must decide which actions to take. Before taking action, you must be well-informed. To be well-informed your organization will rely on insights from your analysis. Before analyzing, you'll need to measure and choose your key performance indicators (KPIs). And before you measure, you must have the right data.

EVERYTHING FLOWS FROM YOUR DATA. This begs a very basic question: What data does talent acquisition need to be data-driven?  


The Foundational 4

The Foundational 4 is a simple formula your talent acquisition team can follow to embrace a data-driven recruiting model and achieve dramatically different results.

1. Create Your Foundational Data 
2. Use Foundational Data To Engage The Right Talent
3. Use foundational Data To Inform 
4. Use foundational Data To Drive Change

Data-Driven Recruiting - The Foundational 4

Create Your Foundational Data

In data-driven recruiting, building your foundational data is JOB-1.

This foundation is surprisingly small in volume. It’s organized and packaged to be accessible. It’s understandable, informative, and most importantly, actionable. It’s designed to solve existing challenges and to answer existing questions.

So, what does this foundational data look like?


Total Addressable Market (TAM)

Introducing Total Addressable Market (TAM). Conceptually, think of your Total Addressable Market or (TAM) as a total dataset or talent pool, with all the best people IN the market rather than only those who happen to be ON the market.

Total Addressable Market (TAM) For Data-Driven Recruiting

This is a very general way to describe a Total Addressable Market (TAM) and it runs the risk of implying that there’s objectively one best dataset for all companies. Obviously, this isn’t the case. What makes a TAM special, is that it’s customized for each company.
So as no two companies are completely alike, no two TAMs will be completely alike.

Let’s explore how to create your data foundation and we’ll redefine the TAM to reflect its uniqueness for each company.

Your Total Addressable Market (TAM) is the complete market of talent meeting your company’s specified requirements, skills, and experience. It’s a custom dataset based on what’s important to YOUR organization and it includes not only active talent but a much larger pool of passive talent.


Three Steps To Creating Your Total Addressable Market - Define, Quantify And Identify

Creating Your Total Addressable Market (TAM) 

There are 3 steps to creating your Total Addressable Market (TAM).  They are:

  1. Define
  2. Quantify
  3. Identify

Defining what’s important to your organization is critical. This the combination of criteria that your organization agrees is the baseline for the talent in your TAM.

  • Should those in your TAM come from a particular industry?
  • Is a specific domain experience required?
  • Should those in your TAM have a particular education?
  • Are specific certifications required?
  • Which technical skills are important?
  • Are there companies you wish to recruit from?
  • What titles should they have?
  • Where should they be geographically located?
  • How many years of experience should they have?

These are only some of the questions your organization may ask when defining your criteria.


Once you’ve defined your target, quantify the talent that meets that criteria. You can sort results by your defined criteria and display them with charts and graphs for easy data visualization.

If your TAM quantity is low, it may be an indication that your defined criteria are inconsistent with the market. Alternatively, a high volume of talent in your TAM may encourage you to become more selective.

This portion of your TAM empowers data-driven conversations with stakeholders to calibrate their defined criteria.


Lastly, bring this data into a tactical format by identifying the individual demographic data and engagement channels for each person in your TAM.

Individual Demographic Data may include, employers, titles, diversity markers, gender, location, level, years of experience, and more for each individual.

Engagement channels are the means to directly engage the talent in your TAM and we’ll describe this in greater detail in the next section.

Use Foundational Data To Engage Talent

Data is useful if it’s actionable.  The 2nd step of the Foundational 4 is to put your data to use by engaging the right talent.


Foundational Data Empowers Multi-channel Engagement

Foundational data empowers the multi-channel engagement of talent. This practice of recruiter outreach through multiple channels enables talent acquisition to connect with the right talent through their favorite channels and where they are active.

Single-channel engagement is marked by ineffective engagement efforts and the inability to engage the right people. Multi-Channel engagement empowers your engagement efforts and your ability to reach more of the right people.

To illustrate the inefficiencies of single-channel engagement let’s look at an example. We’ll use LinkedIn as an example only because it’s a platform we all understand. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and one of the most popular platforms on the market for identifying talent.

However, many in Talent Acquisition also use LinkedIn as a primary way of engaging passive talent; those who haven’t applied to your jobs. If this is you, how many people exist in your LinkedIn Recruiter Projects who HAVEN'T responded to your InMails? And more importantly, what are you doing with that talent?

LinkedIn Response Rate

According to LinkedIn, "InMails have a 10-25% hit rate when it comes to soliciting a response".

If you’ve sent InMails to 1000 people, likely, between 900 to 750 people HAVE NOT responded to you. This is where talent acquisition commonly falls short. Most talent acquisition teams fail to engage the larger desired pool of passive talent, simply because they lack the channels to engage. They are unaware that these engagement channels can be discovered and leveraged through recruiting research.


Engagement Channels

Total Addressable Market (TAM) Engagement Channels For Data Driven Recruiting

Your TAM empowers you with the means to directly engage each person in your TAM through multiple channels. To engage your target talent effectively, USE the Engagement Channels in your Total Addressable Market (TAM).

If in the example above, passive talent hasn’t responded to your InMail campaigns:

  • Send text messages to mobile numbers
  • Call cell numbers
  • Call office Lines
  • Email personal email addresses
  • Email work email addresses
  • Send messages on Facebook Messenger
  • Send tweets
  • Connect and engage them on GitHub, Instagram, or any other social media platform provided in your TAM

If you believe that engaging more of the right talent is THE primary activity driver to achieve your desired results, then aspire to engage effectively. With your TAM, you will never again be relegated to the inefficiencies of single-channel engagement.

Use Foundational Data To Inform

The 3rd step of the Foundational 4 is to use foundational data to inform.

Being data-driven is often thought of as gathering applicant data from each stage of the recruiting process to optimize the candidate journey and inform the business. But being data-driven is much more than optimizing stages in your recruiting funnel.

This entire article demonstrates the value of foundational data and this data largely resides outside of your existing recruiting funnel. So how can foundational data inform your organization?


Inform Engagement Strategies

Total Addressable Market (TAM) Candidate Engagement Strategies

Given the rich engagement channel data within your TAM, this will influence and inform your candidate engagement strategies. This may be the first time you’ve considered designing multi-channel strategies for candidate engagement.

With sourcing eliminated and your valuable time spent purely on engagement, how would this power your direct outreach? Would you design multi-channel nurture campaigns that would be informed by TAM data? Would your TAM inform your social media campaigns, empowering you to provide contextual content?

Can you envision an informed employee referral program that recommends to employees which of their connections they should be referring?

How would you leverage (TAM) data to inform your employee ambassadors? Would you create a strategy of connecting your employee ambassadors to those in your TAM? After all, the connections of today become the referred employees of tomorrow.


Inform Hiring Managers

Your Total Addressable Market (TAM), Informs Hiring Managers

Before we discuss what hiring manager conversations and decisions your TAM will inform, let’s talk about when your (TAM) can inform these conversations. Your (TAM) empowers you to share insights before searches start; before positions are even approved. You’ll share data-driven insights early instead of opinions late.

Does your TAM support the volume of hires you need to make? If it doesn’t, empower your stakeholders by showing them which levers they can pull to increase the size of their customized talent pool. Early information empowers early calibration.  But it also informs forecasting for hiring. It informs your budgeting conversations. It informs conversations of training allocation. It informs discussions on the need for hiring consultants as well as outsourcing.

Your TAM provides hiring managers insights in all of these areas.


Inform Diversity Hiring

Total Addressable Market (TAM) - Informs Diversity Hiring

Does your company believe that strength lies in differences rather than similarities; that these differences combine to create a competitive advantage? If so, then you’ll appreciate how (TAM) diversity demographics inform talent acquisition’s diversity hiring efforts.

Your talent acquisition team has likely never had a complete dataset of talent meeting your requirements, skills, and experience that you could filter by diversity markers. If you did, how would you use this to inform your outreach prioritization for diverse talent?

Would it help you benchmark?  Would you benefit from having diversity intelligence about your competitors? Would you aspire to improve communication through curated content?  How would it inform your employee referral or employee ambassador programs?

These are only some of the ways that you can use foundational data to inform your diversity hiring.

Use Foundational Data to Drive Change

The last step of The Foundational 4 is to use foundational data to drive change. You are transforming your recruiting model to create measurable business impacts.

Data-Driven Recruiting Impact Areas

Below are the five broad data-driven recruiting categories that talent acquisition should be measuring and managing.  We call them Impact Areas and they are:

  1. Quality
  2. Diversity
  3. Speed 
  4. Volume
  5. Savings


Your Total Addressable Market (TAM) empowers your team to successfully engage more of the right people sooner!

This elevates the quality of people in your pipeline. It fundamentally improves your quality metrics including your submission-to-interview and your interview-to-hire metrics. This translates into better hires overall.


Leveraging foundational data to engage more of the right diverse talent, empowers your company’s aspirations for full representation.

Your TAM embeds gender diversity and ethnic diversity into your talent pool.

Your TAM minimizes Expedience Bias as described in the SEEDs model. After all, foundational data will offset a person’s natural rush to judgment without facts.


Envision sourcing eliminated and being empowered with engagement channels to improve your talent acquisition group’s speed of outreach. And with the right people in your process, the process moves faster, combining for a faster hiring cycle.

These are important incremental improvements but not the most significant. Foundational data empowers your talent acquisition team to transform an existing reactive delivery model to a proactive delivery model.  Hacking time-to-fill is a game-changer.


Pipelining and engaging more of the right talent faster is a key to success in high-volume recruiting and hiring. With sourcing eliminated and a proactive delivery model, your talent acquisition team will have greater bandwidth to address that volume.


Business impact is measured in dollars and data tells a compelling story of saving.
Some of these stories are easily told through line items on the P&L where you point to money saved by eliminating outside recruiting fees or by reducing the number of consultants and contractors.

Other stories require you to translate your improved metrics and results into dollars saved for the business, such as:

• Cost-per-hire
• Time-to-fill
• Quality-of-hire
• The number of hours of time stakeholders have been given back
• Productivity impact on your stakeholder’s entire team 

Improved KPIs for speed, quality, and volume can all be translated into dollars to paint a vivid picture for the business.



In data-driven recruiting, everything flows from your data. It’s easy to be focused only on getting the data right through analytics, but it’s equally important to get the right data; foundational data.

Without both in place, you’re operating with limited visibility, and as organizations strive to become more data-informed, stumbling in the dark is no longer acceptable.  Data-driven recruiting with foundational data provides your team with the necessary tools, elevating talent acquisition into strategic talent advisors.

About Christopher Barncastle

Christopher is the President of B2 Talent Solutions, a recruitment research, and executive search firm. His focus every day is to fundamentally change the way technology leaders, human resources business partners, and recruiting teams approach talent acquisition, all while improving social equality.