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LinkedIn Talent Insights aimed at workforce planning

Eric Owski, head of product for Talent Insights at LinkedIn, explains the difference between Talent Insights and LinkedIn Recruiter.

In a forthcoming tool, LinkedIn is promising improved employment market data it says will change how employers approach recruiting.

This tool, LinkedIn Talent Insights, is intended as a workforce planning tool. Employers who are seeking in-demand skills, in particular, will be able to analyze specific markets. They will see attrition rates of competing firms and also get an understanding of how intense the competition is for skills in a specific market. Talent Insights analyzes profile changes, as well as InMail volumes, which give some idea about demand for talent. The tool will also help users find hidden talent pools and make poaching a little easier.

LinkedIn Talent Insights will be generally available around the end of the third quarter. The pricing has not been announced.

The company has run a test period, which it refers to as a charter, with some customers.

In this Q&A, Eric Owski, head of product for Talent Insights at LinkedIn, details the forthcoming product. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

How does LinkedIn Recruiter differ from Talent Insights?

Eric Owski: The goal of LinkedIn Recruiter is to help recruiters quickly and intelligently identify a shortlist of candidates. LinkedIn Recruiter also includes some metadata. In the recruiter search tool, you can see some indicators of market supply for different types of talent. But what we heard from customers is that they wanted a tool that was dedicated to helping them understand market supply and demand in real time. [Talent Insights] provides an aggerate-level view of the market in real time.

You can understand in Recruiter, roughly, the supply of talent, but you can't get any texture on, for example, who the top employers are in that market and how quickly they are hiring talent -- say, over the last 12 months -- within that talent pool. You can't get insight on which of those companies are losing talent and at what rate. There are no measures for demand in Recruiter. So, today, with LinkedIn Talent Insights, we have a measurement for demand called the hiring difficulty index. That is an indicator of how much hiring activity there is with any particular talent pool.

Beyond that, we are also providing insights into the amount of demand represented by the number of job postings in any given market for a particular skill or a particular title. I think that there are many layers of insights inside Talent Insights that are not accessible today in Recruiter.

Who is LinkedIn Talent Insights intended for?

One of the core use cases that we're building toward is improving the recruiter relationship with the hiring manager.
Eric OwskiHead of product for Talent Insights, LinkedIn

Owski: What we have heard from customers, so far, is that there are many talent acquisition leaders who want their recruiters to have access to the product. And in our global charter program, recruiters were one of the main user groups. This group definitely skewed toward users who were recruiting for knowledge worker roles. These would be probably more senior recruiters, recruiting for difficult-to-fill roles.

One of the core use cases that we're building toward is improving the recruiter relationship with the hiring manager. One of the ways you do that is by bringing data to the table when you have a conversation about a new requisition. What does the market look like for this position? What are the skills that you're most likely to find? What skills might be more difficult to find than others? The insights in the product can help lead to a much more informed conversation. Recruiters are one of the user groups that we have built Talent Insights for, but we have built Talents Insights for a much broader set of users within an HR organization. [This includes] the leaders within talent acquisition -- the people at the manager, director level or even VP level within talent acquisition.

Why would users in administrative oversight planning roles want to use Talent Insights?

Owski: I think what we see is that their organizational mandate is to help the company as a whole do better and [to have] more intelligent talent planning. For example, if you know, to meet your growth goals, you have to hire 500 engineers, one of the questions that's rarely asked in talent planning is: Can the market support hiring 500 engineers in the markets we're in today? There's often very little thought to how talent marketplace dynamics impact strategic goals and whether strategic goals are achievable based on the talent that's available in the market.

A firm then may decide to set up a satellite office in a certain metro area based on the availability of talent.

Owski: That's exactly it.

One of the data points that LinkedIn Talent Insights provides is the turnover of a particular employer. How do you first arrive at turnover, and what does turnover tell you?

Owski: We arrive at turnover based on the changes that are made to LinkedIn profiles. We're able to recalculate attrition based on the number of people that a company has in a talent pool, and then, we look at the number of people who exited that talent pool and went to another company, and we're able to calculate a directional attrition rate based on that.

What does it tell us? There are a number of use cases. What we have seen in the charter is that, for people in analytics teams or HR VPs, the data is used as a benchmark. So, our attrition rate within a particular talent pool -- let's say machine learning -- how does it compare to our peers? You can look at all of your peers and see where your attrition rate ranks. [Determining whether a firm is] doing a good job of retaining the talent [they] have is one of the core use cases.

How confident are you in the reliability of the attrition rate based on profile changes?

Owski: We've done a lot of external validation to make sure we are presenting something that is directionally correct. We have talked to hundreds of customers and previewed different metrics with a very large group of users.

Does the Talent Insights tool make it easier to find pockets of talent that might not turn up in the recruiting tool itself?

Owski: The short answer is yes. But the longer answer is what Talent Insights is giving you is more context on hidden talent pools.

You may know that there are software engineers in Pittsburgh, but what Talent Insights can tell you is that there are software engineers in Pittsburgh and that there's lower market demand in Pittsburgh than there is in, say, Denver, Colorado. That context is what tells you or what would give you an indicator that this is the market you should focus on relative to the other market. That's ultimately why Talent Insights is a great compliment to Recruiter.

What specifically is Talent Insights able to tell us about market demand?

Owski: We measure demand in the product based on the number of InMails that are sent to different talent pools. We think that's representative of the overall demand for talent in those talent pools.

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