LinkedIn’s new Talent Insights tool

The world of talent data is opening up

Most companies measure at least some aspects of their talent acquisition activities. The number of hires made, time to hire, or conversion rates between different steps in the recruitment process.

We do that at Spotify, and then some. But that’s just our own data, and we also need information about the talent world around us. Until today, insights like that have been available to buy, packaged and second-hand, but that is not the way we prefer our data. So for the longest time now, our team has been hoping for LinkedIn to share some of their macro data, and now they have! With the new talent analytics solution called LinkedIn Talent Insights that will be launched on September 25, the world of talent data is opening up.

Understand the talent pool

It’s impossible to set growth targets without understanding the market limitations.

Organizations usually have a clear image of what they need, a focus on demand. But a clear view of the supply side is more uncommon so that’s a gap that most HR professionals work in today. Without data, it’s hard to explain this gap to your hiring managers and your CEO. Talent Insights can help you out here, it allows you to slice and dice through a number of different verticals to define and understand the supply for the specific segment of talent you are looking for, so you can make informed decisions and plans.

Most of these data points also come with trend charts, historical insights that can – sometimes – be helpful to predict the future. Some of the available slices are what skills the talent has (the holy grail for many HR functions!), what industries and locations they’re in, how in demand they are, what degrees and titles they have, and which companies are hiring them.

Where to grow is a huge deal

We love the report on talent pool because that pool is a major factor when you make decisions about the company growth planning. In the past, we have spent quite a bit of external and internal resources on getting talent pool figures, to plan where we will grow and where we won’t. These are multi-billion plans and moves, you can’t just rely on your gut feeling. Also, if you believe that you and your business will last for 10 years or more, you can’t just go where the talent pool looks good enough right now. You need to be thinking talent lifetime value (TLTV) and you need to know you are planning your growth for locations with a sustainable talent future. The future is data-informed, and you’d better be too!

Fresh insights, hot off the database

We’re in a business where change is the only constant. So we appreciate the fact that macro talent data is now served every day, updated and ready to go, and for a fraction of the price it used to be. You can make an updated custom report 10 minutes before the meeting with your CXO or hiring manager. And it will be well packaged, ready to use.

Simple reports mean you don’t have to be a data junkie to understand the reports and use them well. And this is important because most HR professionals are not data experts, they’re HR experts. But we all need the insights, so a tool that gives it to us without hassle is a huge step and an educator in itself.

What will this mean for sourcing?

Well, the gap between the most progressive recruiters and the less sophisticated ones will probably shrink. Everyone will benefit from this tool, but the difference will be bigger for the less savvy, who will get much better results for the same effort as before. And we will all be able to connect talent segments with individual profiles and approach the right candidate with just one click. Advanced boolean strings* can now be replaced with LinkedIn filters that are much easier to use, and we foresee huge time savings.

Get to know your own company better, and compare too

But it’s not just the view of talent that’s been opened up. The new tool can also be used to generate company insights and benchmark. Companies that are progressive already have strong quality HR data inhouse, through their own HR systems, but that’s not the case for everyone. And the direct comparisons everyone can do now is like a brand new world of data where you can get (almost) live talent information for both your own company and your competitors. You can deep dive into talent flows (where talent in a company come from and move to), see the distribution between job titles compared to your competitors, do inventory of skills, attrition or education, and you can see where in the world your competitors have operations. And you can compare with your competitors and adjust your strategies accordingly, All very helpful things, that just became possible.

So what are the downsides?

Well, the value of the on-demand insights that come out of the system depends on the data that goes into it. The data pulled for the Talent Insight reports is aggregated and shared based on what’s happening on the LinkedIn platform. It’s from the company pages and from the updates that the LinkedIn members have provided (to the extent that individual member choices and privacy settings allow). And sometimes people don’t update or even complete their profile. Of course, some of these issues can be bridged with a sophisticated search algorithm, but that won’t always be enough. So in some areas, the information you get will be “indicatory” rather than “statistically significant”. Also, LinkedIn cannot, most of the time, filter out consultants from full-time employees. In many companies, FTEs and Consultants sit in different budget buckets and aren’t calculated the same way. So there’s still need for some manual work to complement the data from LinkedIn with.

Lastly and perhaps needless to say; the future value of this tool will depend on how the LinkedIn network grows. The more relevant LinkedIn become in parts of the world where they have yet to have a dominant market position, the more value the tools will provide in the future.

What else do we need?

Access to real-time, actionable insights and analytics at our fingertips goes a long way. But decisions like “where to grow” will still have to be complemented by other information like urbanization trends, labor law or university landscape. This is all part of the due diligence you need to do both when you grow organically and when you acquire companies. Some of this information is easily accessible from governments or through open internet pages. But if we could have one wish for the future, it would be getting all that relevant data needed for strong talent decision taking, in the same interface.

If LinkedIn doesn’t do that, the management consultants from the Big Four accounting firms will. And if so they will continue to be the ones putting those data sets together, selling once-off reports at a price level at 5-10 times the cost of an annual Talent Insights license.

The future is transparent

Either way, we believe we’ll have a new level of transparency. The price of understanding the talent market will continue to go down as we get more technologically advanced, and as data becomes more accessible. It is just a matter of time and of what companies that will follow LinkedIn – as the front-runner – and lead the way in that direction. The new transparency will translate to more effective recruiting, and a better candidate experience. And the talent acquisition team that understands how to make use of the new insights will level up. If they didn’t already have a strategic role in the organization, they will now.


*  A Boolean search is a structured search process that allows the user to insert words or phrases such as AND, OR, NOT to limit, broaden and define the search results. … By using Boolean search, employers can narrow down the pool of candidates they are presented with by specifically looking for what is required in that role.

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