Big Data – I’ve been seeing this term pop up a lot lately. You could almost call it an HR trend. But what is it? How does it help recruiters? Does it actually help recruiters? What are the pros and cons?

These are questions I am going to answer in today’s post.

What is Big Data?

For months now articles about this topic left and right have been populating my twitter feed; words of praise and words of hate. I had to see for myself what all the fuss is about. So what is Big Data?

An article from blogging4jobs states that this is the most accurate description of ‘big data’:

Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis and visualization. 

Where an article from Forbes referenced a more traditional definition:

Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.

Great, but this still doesn’t answer my question: What is Big Data? And that there is the answer; ‘big data’ really has no definition but rather is interpreted depending on who is using it.

Big Data and Recruiters

Big data is everywhere, but the idea is that it is especially useful to those in the staffing industry. Recruiters or companies who use ATS, house more data than they probably realize; data that could help them in their next search for the perfect candidate. So, this is how it can help recruiters but does it actually help recruiters? The answer: probably not. It has potential to if we can figure out a way to internally organize the data. Which is a scary thought, think about the first definition we talked about “sets so large and complex (were talking maybe 10 years of HR data) that it becomes difficult to process.”  However, if someone can come up with a formula or algorithm – the thought is you could use it to filter through the information and turn out the perfect candidate.

Pro’s and Con’s

I have researched this topic for a few days now and it’s still overwhelming to me. Considering there are no straight answers with ‘big data’ I am going to break down the pros and cons and let you tell me what you think about it.


  • Collection of useful Applicant Information
  • Could Provide Recruiters with the ‘Perfect Candidate’
  • Potential to Change Human Resources from an Art to Science


  • 10 + years of Data to Filter Through
  • Could result in Privacy or Discrimination Issues
  • Could take the Human out of Human Resources

Well there you have it: the big deal about ‘big data’. Will it be successful and change the face of recruiting and hiring? Or will it be like most trends and eventually die out? We would love to know your opinion in the comments below.


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