In beta testing for LinkedIn Talent Insights, some of the participating users were able to identify firms in some markets that have people with sought-after skill sets, such as software engineers, and then target them. The workers can then be identified using tools for recruiting on LinkedIn.
Poaching talent questioned
Eric Owski, the head of product for Talent Insights at LinkedIn, outlined the forthcoming tool at the recent Society for Human Resource Management conference in Chicago. Before his audience, he used a live demo to demonstrate, in minutes, how to assemble a competitive analysis.
During an audience Q&A, one woman in attendance asked Owski about the ethics of using this analytics tool to raid a competitor.
Eric Owskihead of product for Talent Insights, LinkedIn
The attendee asked: “Does that set up an environment for poaching talent?” And then she immediately answered her own question. “I think the answer is yes. And so why would I sign off on that?”
Owski agreed that using the new tool for recruiting on LinkedIn made poaching possible but argued that there was nothing wrong with making this data available.
Internally, the LinkedIn team on the project had many “philosophical” discussions about the use of this data, Owski said. But the team concluded that “the world is becoming more transparent,” and “very sophisticated teams at large companies were able to figure out a lot of the calculations that we’re making available in this product,” he said.
“We think by packaging it up nicely, it levels the playing field,” Owski said. “We feel like we’re on safe ground.”
LinkedIn draws the line on available data
But LinkedIn is drawing a line on what data it makes available.
Owski said LinkedIn can determine with up to 93% accuracy the gender diversity of workers at a firm by analyzing the first name. But the company isn’t making company-specific gender data available in the search tool because it is “very highly sensitive data” that can open up questions of discrimination. LinkedIn will make that information available at a market or broader level.
LinkedIn Talent Insights uses data from its 560 million global members. The site has 15 million open jobs at any given time and some 23,000 standardized job titles that it recognized. The analytics platform is global and not dependent on government data, Owski said.
The tool’s ease of use was a key point for Owski. The interface appeared to be no more complicated than the advanced search feature on Google. It asked the user to input skills to include and exclude job title, location, and industry. It then quickly produced a list of firms with employees who have those skills, hiring trends and attrition rate.
One attendee, Kevin Cottingim, senior vice president of HR at Employbridge, a staffing firm, said in an interview he was “excited” about trying the analytics platform for recruiting on LinkedIn.
Cottingim said his firm has 500 branches around the country and the recruiting analytics tool will help them understand if there are more positions available than candidates in any given market. With that data, he can strategize his plans for more targeted advertising, as well as consider paying a salary premium.
In terms of seeing the attrition rates at other firms, Cottingim said, “I would love to be able to benchmark that against my competitors.”
Quality of data questioned
Some in the audience raised questions about the quality of the data, and whether, for instance, profile changes are a good enough indicator of attrition. An attendee asked if LinkedIn continued to appeal to a full demographic range of people, particularly millennials.