Data - do you really need it?

We go through life collecting data. We can’t avoid it. Every day, more emails, more communications, more people. Computer systems have grown to cope with this endless stream and happily hide the mess. Unfortunately, in a world of data breaches and privacy legislation, messy and out-of-date information is a big liability. This mess needs to be cleaned up.

In an ideal world, our data would be tidy, up-to-date, and, most importantly, useful. We need a reason to keep data, a specific, time-limited purpose. We need to use the data for that purpose, within that time limit and then get rid of it.

Information management systems are not there to store data. They are there to extract value from that data. To do something useful with it. To use it for a productive purpose. For me, the excitement of Information Management is the infinite scope to do increasingly more useful things with it. For a recruiter, that means an infinite scope to better engage with candidates, to spot opportunities to say the right thing at the right time, to have just the right insight at your fingertips, just as you need it and ultimately, to work as a top billing recruiter all the time.

To achieve this ideal world of data perfection is far from easy. However, with the right system, a massive amount of “tidying up” can be achieved. Perhaps more importantly, with automation, it can be maintained with minimal human effort.

Most privacy legislation gives a clear guide to the secrets of keeping data tidy. It is a combination of a clear purpose for data, combined with the ruthless deletion of anything not fitting that purpose. For recruiters, there are a few common purposes for data, but the emotional challenge of deleting the data is perhaps a bridge too far for many.

The purpose of data

For the majority of agency recruiters, the majority of information held relates to candidates. For the majority of these candidates, the purpose of holding this information is to provide them with the services of the recruitment agency. Most of these candidates will know and will want the agency to provide these services. But some candidates will have been sourced and may not know the agency has their data. For these sourced candidates, the agency will need to either, quickly convert them to a signed up candidate, or quickly delete their data.

A recruitment agency continually matches candidates with jobs. So as long as candidates wish to have this service provided, and the agency wishes to provide this to them, then it is appropriate for the agency to maintain their data and maintain the relationship with the candidate.

There could be many reasons that these services would stop, for instance:

  • A candidate could request it or stop responding to messages.
  • The agency could place them in permanent employment.
  • The candidate could retire or leave the workforce.
  • A candidate could break the agency rules and go directly to an employer or fail to show for an interview.

It is the recruitment Information Management system’s job to monitor if this recruitment service is actually being provided. Should it not be, then the system should offer the option to delete a candidate’s data.

Data Retention Policies

A data retention policy defines the purpose and timescale to keep data. A recruitment agency will have several different policies for the different types of data they deal with. Examples could be as follows

Normal job seeking candidates

For Candidates who have agreed the agencies terms and the agency agrees to offer their recruitment services. The start of the retention period is the point they agree the terms and their data will be kept for a defined short period after the Agency stops providing their recruitment services. Under normal circumstances the agency will continually be providing recruitment services and so should keep the candidates data indefinitely. Should the agency stop providing services then the data should be deleted.

Sourced Candidates – Terms not agreed

For a Candidate who the agency directly sourced and the Candidate does not know that the Agency has their data, or they have not had the opportunity to agree to the Agencies terms. The Agency will have a limited time to hold the candidate data while they attempt to contact the candidate to agree terms. GDPR stipulates a maximum time of 30 days to hold data without an agreement.

Other retention policies

There are of course many other types of data and purposes for that data. For each of these the Agency will define data retention policies to suit their needs. These will define the data covered by the policy to reflect the purpose of the data, determine the start and the duration of the period for which the data should be kept.

What to delete and how to delete it.

A data retention policy is there to define what data should be retained. To work out what data to delete, an information management system must be able to search through all the data and find anything that falls outside of all the different data retention policies. This is difficult and way beyond the capabilities of most recruitment systems on the market. It is not a simple Boolean search.

Not only must the system be able to search and find data to delete, it must also have a deleting system that is able to delete just the data not covered by the data retention policies. Again this is not simple and again well beyond the capabilities of most Recruitment CRM/ATS systems. For example, if a candidate asks that their data is to be deleted, they normally mean that data that is personal and private to them, eg their CV. The candidate would not normally have the right to request that the agencies data about them, such as which clients their data was sent to, be deleted as this is really to do with the business of that agency.

Deleting just the personal data of a candidate and being able to do this quickly and easily for all appropriate candidates on a database is an essential feature of a Recruitment Information Management system.

Intelligence is a recruitment CRM/ATS, designed to help recruiters better manage their data and keep it tidy. Understanding the purpose of data and being able to find and delete it, is a specialist and very important feature of the Intelligence system. For more information on how this works, please contact us at any time.

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