Sears Breaks Down Walls to Create HR Data Warehouse
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Donna Quintal, Senior Manager of Strategic Sourcing at Sears, was a keynote speaker at SourceCon Winter 2013 in Atlanta.

Donna, @retail_wanted, spoke of how HR teams very often have all the data recruiters needed to plan recruiting, but it is often hidden behind the walls built by HR and recruiting. Inspired by a Glen Cathey Moneyball Recruiting presentation, Sears set about tearing down the walls to create the HR data warehouse, fed by their HR systems. Data feeds come from HRP, PeopleSoft, and Kenexa to produce reports, dashboards, and analysis. This means the recruiters can interrogate data to understand what they should be recruiting for, costs, speed of hire, loss due to not hiring, etc., and other things like the best companies to hire from, the best industries, and the best schools. The data includes things like performance management, reviews, appraisals, financials, etc.; every aspect of HR data in order to be proactive, predictive, and able to influence hiring managers.

Every new starter completes a profile, and all the HR data through their career gets added in real time. When you have data, you can interrogate it. How many organizations recognize that this type of data would be useful to recruiters, and how many people think it should be locked away from the hiring team? When you have data, you can influence 15206278_sdecisions.

Recruiters get to know when people are high-risk—triggered by actions like performance plans—and this models the recruiting plan. The recruiters source to projected needs rather than reacting to jobs as they come up at the 11th  hour. The sourcing plan covers internal employees as well as external targets. When you have data, succession planning and internal mobility become a reality.

Sears has worked hard to allow recruiters to have conversations about internal opportunities freely without needing to go through layers of permission. This takes some doing. I remember having the same conversation with Arie Ball at Sodexo. Companies talk internal mobility but block the access to it through politics and turfism. The best recruits with the least risk who are already known usually live within the company, but many recruiters are driven to source outside. The key in all of this is transparency of data and trust. Sears has profiles on over 400,000 employees. That’s a huge data source.

Every interview is a source of competitor information that goes into the system, hired or not. Recruiters are trained to gather data in the interview (they jokingly compare this to being interviewed by the CIA). When I think about how much market information recruiters could collect to help influence sourcing and hiring decisions, the potential is frightening. This means building a whole process for data collection, and an emphasis on retrieval through data mining rather than storage.

When recruiters have the data to influence and advise recruiters—what they need to be doing—the perception of the role changes from being reactive people-finders to being strategic partners. Sears runs their talent community through They track all social media activity to see what topics are trending. Things like Family Guy and Eminem are massive trends. They switch this back into their thinking on content and content placement. This is starting with a Family Guy campaign because that is where their hires are and what they are interested in.

I love the direction Sears is going with this thinking. Data drives decisions, just as soon as the walls come down and recruiters get access. The big theme of the day is moving sourcing from a reactive, just-in-time function, to playing a more strategic part in business planning. Decisions are driven by data and what is really happening. Market mapping and succession planning features highly. It’s exciting times!

Learn more about SourceCon Winter 2013. sourcecon-logo

Bill, @BillBoorman

About recruitingunblog

“I have always worked in and around recruiting as a Recruiter, Trainer, Operations Director, Consultant and Coach. I have spent more than 27 years in this industry which sadly qualifies me as a veteran. (substitute old!) During this time I have worked in most markets and have been responsible for the full H.R. and Training function for a recruitment business that grew from 6 to 147 branches. I have implemented I.T systems, designed performance management and appraisal systems among most other things. Over the last 5 years I have been working as a consultant and trainer to growing recruiting firms across Europe. The last 18 months saw my introduction to social media and social recruiting. I started with 50 connections on Linked In (mostly friends) and grew from there. signing up for a twitter account in March 2009 changed everything, as I was given access to a fantastic network worldwide. In Feb 2009 I was honoured and surprised to be ranked in the HR Examiner/trakkr index as the 6′th most influential on-line recruiter in the world. Despite this accolade, I still consider myself to be very much a social media amateur (there are lots more in my network that are much wiser and cleverer. I’m now best known as @BillBoorman on twitter, and have been described a twitterholic that never sleeps, omnipresent and even a whirling dervish! (Thanks @fishdogs.) In September 2009 I attended an event in Toronto (Recruitfest 09) that had a major impact on me. This was my first stint as a track leader at an unconference. I was so taken by this open format that I brought it back to the UK and with Geoff Webb, (Radical Recruit), launched #trulondon and other #tru events. We are in the process of taking these events on a global tour stretching from london to china over the next 2 years. I love the buzz these events create, and enjoy them as much on-line as off it.


  1. BY Cath Possamai says:

    Fantastic story – what I wouldn’t give to have access to this kind of data to support our hiring practices..! This is the way we should all be going in order to really prove our value to the bottom line.

  2. Pingback: John Doe’s Resume | HR Schoolhouse

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