These days, landing a dream job or securing the ideal candidate isn’t about who you know—increasingly it’s about what you know. LinkedIn profiles. Performance metrics. Glassdoor reviews. Digital feedback forms. Personality tests. There’s no shortage of information and tools to help companies—and candidates—make the best possible decision. In fact, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 82 percent of organizations planned to either begin or increase their use of big data in HR before the end of 2018.

Why?

Because today’s data and analytics solutions are enabling HR professionals to make faster, more informed hiring decisions. They’re also providing business intelligence to increase employee engagement and help keep the best people on board. In this new environment, companies are using data-driven HR to find better candidates, learn from the best ones, and foster a culture of talent development and continuous improvement. Here’s how:

  1. Recruiting — In addition to cultivating a good reputation internally and externally, a recent Forbes article highlights how innovative HR leaders use the best recruiting channels for their business, such as LinkedIn. This enables them to leverage more data sources in new and exciting ways, including what is important to customers and how they view employees. An interesting example cited in the article is that of JetBlue Airlines. The airline performed customer data analysis to determine that “being helpful” was more important than “being nice,” which had been a key indicator in its hiring process for flight attendants. As a result, the company adapted, using data to find candidates with an ability to quickly solve problems versus only focusing on niceness.
  2. Interviewing — Data is not just improving the recruitment process. New screening tools and the ability to analyze candidate success factors are enabling HR professionals to improve the interview process. This includes looking at the previous answers of successful candidates to help identify and attract new candidates with similar ways of thinking. The feedback process is also becoming more information-driven, with new apps to collect and consolidate candidate comments and promote a more collaborative hiring process.
  3. Retention — What do people love most about their jobs? Not performance reviews. The traditional performance review has been under fire for years from both managers and employees alike. Yes, they typically involve some data analysis and metrics that may please a business leader—including ratings and rankings on things like productivity. But in general, the research suggests that they create disconnects between employees and managers, and can even de-motivate people. Rather, innovative HR leaders are turning to cutting-edge tools that can draw upon more data sources and use predictive analytics to better identify improvement areas and suggest coaching or career development activity, as well as optimize salaries. The result is a more informed manager and a more engaged employee that’s likely to be more motivated and loyal to the company.

With an increased ability to pull together data across performance management systems, HR systems, and emerging talent management systems, today’s HR pros not only have access to more data on human resources and capital, but they’re taking action on it to drive more productive, more engaged, and more satisfied employees.