Why Data-Driven-Insights Are The Heroes Of An Effective Talent Acquisition Strategy

With businesses prioritising investment in people, employers are continually seeking ways to improve their methods of recruiting and retaining top candidates, and data-driven-insights are increasingly becoming the heroes of an effective talent acquisition strategy.

In this blog, Cogito’s Managing Director, Marc Drew, looks at how obtaining evidence-based, data-driven-insights can help to improve an organisation’s talent acquisition performance.  

Cogito Talent and HR Consultancy Business

Recently I had the pleasure of being part of the Cogito team who shared two years’ worth of data-driven, candidate insights with one of our key customers.

As well as finding great candidates to fill open vacancies, our multi-year talent acquisition programme has a strategic goal to improve the gender and national diversity of applicants and ultimately hired candidates.

The roles our team have helped the customer to recruit include individuals in some of the most niche candidate markets across the STEM spectrum, and whilst well-known in their sector, the wider market awareness of this employer was much lower – this meant they were great at attracting the same type of candidates, from the same list of organisations, genders and nations.

Additionally, the STEM skills markets are heavily male-biased, which was impacting gender diversity goals.

Only 32% of the global data workforce and 20% of the global engineering workforce in 2021 were women. (Global STEM Workforce – Society of Women Engineers).

Our customer knew from the outset that by working with Cogito, they would receive our dedicated recruitment team to manage the process’s sourcing, attraction and screening stages to heighten awareness and quality.

However, unlike other recruitment solution providers, they would also benefit from Cogito’s data team. Our team of specialists who love to tell stories from data to help employers to take action. Their primary focus was to analyse the data to produce deep candidate insights including:

  • An understanding of where potential candidates are based.
  • How well-known they are as an employer to STEM candidate markets.
  • What would encourage more people to apply to work for them, specifically from a more diverse set of nations and more females.
  • How the candidates feel about the recruitment process and if females feel differently to males.

Improving Candidate Engagement

We were fortunate that the customer’s HR team is one of the best examples of a team that embraces insights and is keen to take action.  Therefore, we needed to understand where their ideal candidates were located and how best to engage them. Without this, our ability to provide fact-based recommendations would be limited.

The desire to digest insights encouraged our recruiters to promote their brand, roles and culture to a wide range of candidates, increasing the awareness of what it means to work for them.  We have improved candidate engagement by adapting our candidate communications to focus on the authentic storytelling of how working for this employer matches the top motivators of others in their skill set and demographic. This has seen an increase in passive candidates responding to our initial approaches.

The percentage of people who were approached by Cogito and who responded to our messages has doubled in the past 12 months because of a more tailored outreach.

Awareness and Perception

In March 2021, we were told that our customer received many applications from the same type of candidate; current employer, location, and gender.  We wanted to spread the word and to tell more people about working for them and the opportunities it would present.  Our search approach, complemented by the improved, tailored messaging, meant we were engaging with individuals who had the skills required but needed more customer employer awareness.  This was most prevalent in skills markets which needed to be sector-specific and where future hiring growth is planned.

We know that we are reaching new candidates. Each year we have spoken to more people without previous knowledge of the customer, and most of the candidates who were approached have NEVER applied to work for them before.

Increasing Diversity

The percentage of screened candidates who are women has increased over the years, up by a quarter in the past year and rising to a third of all hired candidates in the past 12 months.  The  range of nationalities has also increased by 10% in the past year, supporting the goal of increasing national diversity.

Improving Candidate Experience

Having improved engagement, we needed to understand the experience of the candidates.

After working so hard to increase the talent pool, we didn’t want to lose them due to a poor interview process.

So, we introduced two new surveys, one after the initial screen and the second after the first interview. Both were conducted via video, with the interview stage undertaken by a panel of 3-5 interviewers (historically all or mostly male).

As such, we were keen to understand not only the view of all candidates but by skill and gender. Were there different experiences?  YES!

After the first ten months, we saw that after the interview stage, the female candidates’ NPS scores dropped during the screening stage conducted with a single recruiter to the video interview stage with a panel of (mostly male) interviewers.

Why was this?

Could the format or gender balance of the interviewers be less appealing to female candidates?

In 2022, the customer decided to increase the number of female interviewers and in March 2023, the NPS score from female candidates has increased!  Both male and female candidates are seeing the interview process as positive!

What Have We Learned?

An insight embracing HR team is key. Seeing our insights leading to actions that have made a difference has been so satisfying. This has been achieved by working with an HR team who understands data and wants to make a positive, evidenced-based change. Without this, I wonder if this level of improvement could have been achieved.

Understand what makes candidates tick. We have seen that you can increase engagement by taking the time to understand the drivers of a candidate pool, even one as challenging as STEM.
Create tailored content, no lazy cut and paste. We have also recognised that by further reviewing this data at a gender level, you can adapt messaging to present an accurate view of the organisation to the specific groups you want to hire.

Take the opportunity to them. The people you need to hire are out there. You just need to take your opportunities to them and rely less on advertising. By conducting a mapping and outreach approach, we have increased the awareness of the customer to people who didn’t know they existed.

Keep asking for feedback. Gaining feedback during the interview process can help make changes that improve the experience, particularly for candidates in demographic groups you would like to hire more.

Get In Touch!

If you’d like to know more about this programme or how we are blending recruitment with insight to improve talent acquisition outcomes, visit www.cogitotalent.comor email: marcdrew@cogitotalent.com 






Cogito Talent and HR Consultancy Business
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