Ricoh blog: How Big Data is Changing the Way We Hire

The days where even social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Dice could be things of the past, thanks to the use of Big Data techniques and analysis. It used to be you were only as good as your networks, but today the saying might be you are only as good as your code, or other footprints that can be discovered through various online analytics.

Forbes earlier this year identified this trend where recruiters can plumb databases to see whether candidates are stuck in the same position for too long or those who are quickly rising to new heights. Indeed, there are analysis firms such as Gild.com, RemarkableHire, Entelo and Talentbin.com that can search through open source projects to find the best developers for major tech companies such as Rackspace, Amazon and Expedia. The New York Times also wrote about Gild earlier this year and described their techniques: whereby one firm recruited and eventually hired a programmer who is still working there today. And this is someone that they would have never found otherwise, and who had no idea of the firm’s existence before they contacted him. These analysis firms can also be used to identify how well a potential recruit could perform in their new job, like the way the SAT test can help predict college performance.

But there are other less obvious methods. Through various Big Data contest sites, posters can claim fame and at least modest fortunes from winning programming challenges. The most notable of these is Kaggle.com, which has run hundreds of contests and awarded thousands in prices. Recruiters often go after these successful entrants.

Security vendor Impermium sponsored a programming contest on Kaggle a few years agoThe prize was $10,000, along with an opportunity to interview for a job at the company. While Impermium ultimately did not hire anyone, “the Kaggle competition was useful and we were able to examine many interesting algorithms,” CEO Mark Risher wrote in an email. Facebook has run several Kaggle contests to find new talent as well.

There are other crowd-sourced methods that I wrote about for Slashdot here that can be very effective at locating talent. These include homespun efforts along with sites such as ProjectEuler.net, HackerRank.com,India-based CrowdAnalytix.com, Innocentive.com (for the life sciences), and TunedIT.org (mainly for education and research projects). But Kaggle has been around since 2010 and has the largest audience. For all of these sites, what is interesting is that you can quickly search for the contest winners: there is no mystery in most cases about who won or what they did.

But while these examples are suitable for finding your next programming superstar, it may be awhile before Big Data techniques can yield candidates for more common positions such as marketing managers or assembly line workers. Still, it is an area worth keeping in mind.

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