Sears Breaks Down Walls to Create HR Data Warehouse


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

Image Credit: Shutterstock


2 Responses to “Sears Breaks Down Walls to Create HR Data Warehouse”

February 08, 2013 at 3:27 pm, Cath Possamai said:

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.


March 03, 2014 at 7:13 am, John Doe’s Resume | HR Schoolhouse said:

[…] of hourly workers who do pay attention to the process across the spectrum of their workforce; read this post about Sears as an […]


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