Updating your resume is something that usually attracts little notice. In the new world of high-tech hiring, however, it could alert recruiters to keep their eye on you and possibly lead to new jobs you haven't even applied for.
Hiring recruiters have begun using "big data" tools to tip them off when people are likely to leave their current job -- even if such a decision is still months away. The software analyzes workers' online behavior and catalogues activity that can indicate they're pondering a job or career change.
“Any time you’re changing your information on the Internet, anybody can see that,” Jon Bischke, CEO of software firm Entelo, tells me in the video above. “It’s basically giving a recruiter ESP into when people are looking to change their jobs.”
If that sort of tracking sounds creepy, keep in mind that you make it all possible through your online updates and social media chatter. That’s especially true of young workers accustomed to using Facebook and Instagram as digital diaries. Software can now detect trends and patterns that used to be little more than a jumble of random information, which means you could get a call from a headhunter before you've officially expressed interest in leaving your current job.
Recruiters can get inside your brain this way because many people drop much stronger hints about future plans than they realize. Software, for instance, can track when you update your LinkedIn (LNKD) profile, since the networking site is one of the first places employers might go to check out a candidate’s credentials. At the same time, a job seeker might spruce up his or her Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) or Instagram page, expunging party photos and establishing a more businesslike tone. And you might upload a fresh resume to a professional site such as Github, GrabCad or Kaggle. Put it all together, and it’s a pretty good sign you’re looking to bust a move.
Scouring for talent
Entelo’s software works like a search engine, except instead of indexing data from websites, it scours data on individuals, sifting and sorting by more than 70 variables. It's used mostly by recruiters, who might work in-house at companies or as third-party consultants.
Algorithms zero in on “dynamic information”—changes—and alert recruiters to people who fit the profile for a given job and might be preparing to make a career move. Recruiters can search by location, specialty and any keywords they choose ("Android developer," for instance). If there's a corporate mandate to improve diversity, algorithms can ferret out folks with certain skill sets who also happen to be women, minorities or whoever the hiring target might be.
Data analysis has also revealed certain characteristics of workers with a higher propensity to leave their current jobs. People are much more likely to leave, for instance, as they hit calendar-year anniversaries, such as their third or fifth year with the company, when they tend to question their career prospects. If you've been with your current employer longer than average, that might be another hint you’re ready to move on. Software combines personal data gleaned from workers' online profiles with public information such as layoff announcements or merger activity, to identify people with the right qualifications who are most likely to leave their current job. “Recruiters are looking for something to give them an edge,” Bischke says. “This gives them predictive analytics.”
In hot fields such as web development, data analysis and software engineering, it’s often important to reach potential candidates before the competition does. Bischke says one company using Entelo’s software was able to fill an opening for a software engineer in southern California simply because a qualified candidate changed the home location on his Twitter account from Boston to Orange County. It turned out his wife had gotten a new job there and the couple had moved before he was able to start job hunting. In the end, he didn’t have to, because a headhunter found him before he started looking.
Keeping tabs on employees
Employers, in theory, could use the same type of software to keep tabs on workers who might be preparing to leave. But that sort of surveillance seems impractical, especially given that many companies tend to underinvest in human resources in the first place. It’s probably more important for workers to worry about the totality of their online identities, since software can now analyze all of it and spot problems.
Anybody with professional information online, for instance, should make sure all of their data is consistent. Job start and end dates should be the same everywhere they’re listed, as should degrees, credentials and job descriptions. It’s prudent to tailor an online resume for the type of job you’re looking for, but given the amount of information available on everybody these days, it’s easier than ever to get caught fudging your background or experience.
Workers can also exploit recruiting software to improve their odds of getting noticed. Creating an online portfolio of your work on sites such as Dribbble (for designers) or Muckrack (for PR professionals) is a good way to get known among others in your field. A professional site is also a good place to link to your personal web page or LinkedIn profile, if you have one. The more widely mentioned you are, the more likely a recruiter will find you, which highlights one constant of being a good networker: Self-promotion works.
Rick Newman’s latest book is Liberty for All: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Financial and Political Freedom. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.