Do You Have Talent Intelligence?

Does your recruiting or staffing organziation have Talent Intelligence?

I believe that all staffing organizations should view and value their internal resume/candidate database/ATS as a proprietary business intelligence tool.  Business intelligence refers to applications and technologies that are used to gather, provide access to, and analyze data and information and help companies develop consistent and “data-based” business decisions — producing better results than basing decisions on “guesswork.”

I define “Talent Intelligence” as refering to applications and technologies that are used to gather, provide access to, and analyze Talent-related (Human Capital) data and information and help organizations develop consistent and “data-based” Talent-related decisions.

Business intelligence applications are usually supported by a data warehouse, which is the main repository of an organization’s historical data, also known as corporate memory (the total body of data, information and knowledge required to deliver the strategic aims and objectives of an organization). A company’s “Talent Warehouse” should serve as the main repository of an organization’s Human Capital data, and it would serve as the raw material for a Talent Support System (TSS) – a computerized system for helping to make Talent-related decisions, such as talent identification and acquisition.

Practically every Fortune 1000 company (and many smaller ones too) utilizes and leverages business intelligence solutions to make better decisions and run their companies more effectively and efficiently. However, very few – if ANY – companies actually have a true Talent Intelligence solution. Although many Applicant Tracking Systems ,HRMS/HRIS solutions and Recruiting CRM applications make lofty claims as to their capabilities and functionality, I don’t consider many vendor solutions currently on the market to be a true Talent Intelligence solution. Most are simply systems that track and organize applicants.

I find it ironic that companies in nearly every industry invest millions and millions of dollars on their data warehousing/business intelligence initiatives – just to be able to retrieve and analyze their data to enable them to make better business decisions, yet I’d argue that every company’s Human Capital is actually their most valuable and critical asset. So why is it that HR, recruiting, and staffing technology is so far behind in technologies used for gathering, retrieving, and analyzing financial, manufacturing, etc., data? 

Recruiting and staffing organizations should be looking to leverage technology to support the effectiveness and productivity of their sourcing and recruiting associates by building a deep and broad Talent Warehouse and empower their recruiters and sourcers with a search interface that affords them the ability to perform highly precise queries and semantic search strategies that execute quickly and produce highly relevant results.

While there are many important aspects of Talent Intelligence solutions that distinguish them from your garden-variety ATS and HRMS solutions, here are 2 critical aspects of building and utilizing a Talent Intelligence system:

Populating the Talent Warehouse

A Talent Warehouse should be both broad and deep. While Talent Warehouses vary in size, I would say on the low end, for smaller organizations in a single metro area, a Talent Warehouse should be no less than 20,000 resumes and/or candidate profiles. There is perhaps no upper limit to the size of a Talent Warehouse – larger corporate and agency staffing organizations often have several million resumes/candidate profiles in their repository.

Statistically – size does matter. Please take a look at this post I wrote about statistics and the size of resume databases a while back that goes into quite a bit of detail regarding normal distributions, the Central Limit Theorem, and the Law of Large Numbers. The short version is that more resumes/candidate profiles = a higher probability that you have a given quantity of candidates who match any given hiring need. This can enable Lean/JIT sourcing and recruiting.

In an ideal setup, a Talent Warehouse is fed new resumes/candidate profiles both manually (by sourcers, recruiters, and candidates themselves) and automatically (using search aggregators such as infoGIST, TalentHook, DataFrenzy’s RAM, etc.) from a wide variety of sources – to include the Internet, referrals/networking, Job Boards, RSS feeds/automated Internet search alerts, ad responses, career fairs (of all kinds), LinkedIn, Blogs, and various and sundry other social media.

Search Interface and Searchability

Having TONS of great talent/human capital data is wonderful, however – it’s of little value without the ability of a user to precisely extract out relevant and useful information from the system that can be used for quick and accurate talent identification and acquisition.

The value of a database (or Talent Warehouse) lies not only in the information contained within, but moreso in the ability of a user to extract out precisely and completely what the user needs. See this post to read more about this concept: The Value of a Database

When using information systems, sourcers and recruiters perform Talent Mining to extract useful and relevant human capital/talent data. Just as a data warehouse can be a significant enabler of commercial business applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) applications, a Talent Warehouse can and should be a significant enabler of Human Capital Relationship Management (HCRM) applications.

The ideal search interface of a Talent Warehouse or Talent Support System should support both standard and extended Boolean queries (including configurable proximity and variable term weighting) to enable effective semantic search as well include an Artificial Intelligence resume/job matching engine to cover all angles. This kind of search interface and engine can enable sourcers and recruiters to quickly and precisely find quantities of well qualified candidates.


A well designed and fully featured Talent Intelligence solution can significantly improve sourcer and recruiter effectiveness and productivity, reduce reliance on the major job boards, and reduce the amount of time sourcers and recruiters spend trying to source candidates via free but very low ROTI (return on time invested). It’s well past time for HR, recruiting and staffing technology to catch up to technologies such as data warehousing and business intelligence applications that have been utilized to support financial, manufacturing, and just about every other critical aspect of business for decades. After all, is there anything more important to an organization than Human Capital/Talent?