Descriptive Analytics

What do other HR terms mean? HR Glossary

Understanding Data Insights For Recruiters And Businesses

If you're a recruiter or a business aiming to bring in top-notch talent, you absolutely need to have the right info at your fingertips to make smart choices. Think of it like this – descriptive analytics is like the detective work of data analysis. It's the tool that spills the beans on what's happened in the past and what trends have been shaping up.

In this read, we're going to really get into what descriptive analytics is all about, why it's a big deal, how it actually gets the job done, the good stuff it brings to the table, the not-so-great parts, and even some other ways to tackle the same challenge. Ready? Let's jump in and explore!

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What Is Descriptive Analytics?

Descriptive analytics is a branch of data analysis that focuses on understanding historical data and providing a summary of past events and patterns. It involves the examination of large datasets to identify trends, patterns, and correlations. By utilizing descriptive analytics, recruiters and businesses can gain valuable insights into their hiring processes, candidate performance, and other relevant metrics.

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Why Is Descriptive Analytics Important?

Descriptive analytics plays a crucial role in the realm of recruitment, offering a panoramic and historical view of the entire hiring journey. Through a meticulous examination of previous recruitment data, it equips recruiters and HR experts with the ability to unveil intricate patterns, emerging trends, and illuminating insights. These revelations‌ cast a spotlight on the efficacy of diverse strategies, candidate origins, and the stages encompassing the hiring funnel.

Such insights pave the way for decisions firmly rooted in data, steering recruiters towards a process fine-tuned for success. This entails the refinement of methodologies, the optimal distribution of resources, and the augmentation of overall operational efficiency. In addition, this trove of knowledge emboldens recruiters to make judicious selections, as they assess candidate profiles and foresee the probability of offer acceptance.

How Does Descriptive Analytics Work?

Descriptive analytics involves the following key steps:

  • Data Collection: Recruiters gather relevant data from various sources, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS), candidate databases, and hiring platforms.

  • Data Cleaning And Preprocessing: Raw data is cleaned and preprocessed to remove duplicates, errors, and inconsistencies, ensuring the accuracy of the analysis.

  • Data Visualization: Utilizing data visualization tools, recruiters can represent the data in the form of charts, graphs, and tables, making it easier to interpret and identify trends.

  • Pattern Recognition: By analyzing the visualized data, recruiters can recognize patterns, trends, and anomalies, providing insights into candidate behavior and hiring success.

What Are The Benefits Of Descriptive Analytics?

Descriptive analytics offers several advantages for recruiters and businesses:

Improved Hiring Strategies

By understanding past hiring trends, recruiters can refine their strategies, ensuring they attract the right candidates for the right roles.

Enhanced Candidate Experience

With insights from descriptive analytics, recruiters can tailor their approach to create a better candidate experience, leading to higher satisfaction levels.

Identifying Skill Gaps

Businesses can identify skill gaps in their current workforce and develop targeted training programs to upskill employees.

Are There Any Downsides To Descriptive Analytics?

So, let's talk about the pros and cons of descriptive analytics, shall we? On one hand, descriptive analytics sure does dish out some valuable insights that can be helpful. But, like anything else in life, it's got its own set of limitations too.

  • Data Quality and Integrity: The accuracy and reliability of insights from descriptive analytics depend heavily on the quality of the data being used. Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to incorrect conclusions and decisions.

  • Lack of Context: Descriptive analytics often presents data in isolation without considering broader contextual factors that could influence the outcomes. This can lead to misinterpretations or incomplete understanding of the underlying reasons behind certain trends.

  • Incomplete Picture: Relying solely on historical data may not account for changes in the job market or external factors that could impact hiring decisions.

What Are The Alternatives To Descriptive Analytics?

There are other types of analytics that complement descriptive analytics:

Predictive Analytics

This form of analytics uses historical data to make predictions about future events, such as forecasting candidate success or identifying high-demand skills.

Prescriptive Analytics

Prescriptive analytics takes insights from descriptive and predictive analytics to recommend actions that can optimize hiring processes and improve overall results.

Diagnostic Analytics

Now, this is like getting to the root cause of things. Instead of just telling you what's happening, diagnostic analytics digs deep to figure out why it's happening. It's like being a detective, trying to uncover the hidden story behind the data.

What Are The Tools Used For Descriptive Analytics?

When it comes to performing descriptive analytics, there are several powerful tools available that help recruiters and businesses extract valuable insights from their data. These tools enable data visualization, data cleaning, and analysis, making the process more efficient and effective. Here are some popular tools commonly used for descriptive analytics:


Sigma is a powerful, browser-based data visualization tool that allows users to create interactive charts, graphs, and dashboards, through a familiar Excel-like user interface.


Tableau is a leading data visualization tool that allows users to create interactive charts, graphs, and dashboards, making it easier to understand and present complex data.

Power BI

Power BI, developed by Microsoft, is another versatile data visualization tool that enables users to transform raw data into visually appealing reports and interactive visualizations.

Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is a free and user-friendly tool that integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics and other data sources, helping users create customizable reports and share insights.


Mode is a high performance data analytics tool with visualization capabilities built in. Mode allows users to create interactive charts, graphs, and dashboards.

Where Are Descriptive Analytics Applied Across Industries?

Descriptive analytics finds application across various industries to uncover insights, understand trends, and inform decision-making. Here are five industries where descriptive analytics is commonly applied:

  • Retail: Retailers use descriptive analytics to understand customer buying patterns, inventory management, and sales performance. This helps them optimize product assortments, plan promotions, and enhance customer experiences based on historical data.

  • Healthcare: In healthcare, descriptive analytics assists in patient management, resource allocation, and predicting patient outcomes. Hospitals can analyze patient data to identify trends in diseases, optimize staff schedules, and enhance operational efficiency.

  • Finance: Financial institutions leverage descriptive analytics to analyze market trends, monitor transaction patterns, and manage risks. This helps in fraud detection, portfolio management, and compliance monitoring.

  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing companies use descriptive analytics to monitor production processes, equipment maintenance, and quality control. By analyzing historical production data, they can identify inefficiencies, reduce downtime, and improve overall production processes.

  • Human Resources: HR departments utilize descriptive analytics to track employee performance, turnover rates, and training effectiveness. This information helps in making informed decisions about talent management and employee development.

These industries represent just a fraction of the areas where descriptive analytics is applied. Its versatility allows organizations to gain valuable insights from their data, enabling them to make informed decisions and improve processes across a wide range of sectors.

How Does Descriptive Analytics Drive Data-Driven Decisions?

Let’s explore how descriptive analytics facilitates data-driven decision-making:

  • Identifying Areas For Improvement: By examining past recruitment campaigns and strategies, descriptive analytics helps identify areas that require improvement. Recruiters can pinpoint weaknesses in the hiring process, such as candidate drop-offs at specific stages or low applicant conversion rates, and take corrective actions.

  • Benchmarking And KPI Tracking: Descriptive analytics enables organizations to set key performance indicators (KPIs) based on historical data and track their progress over time. This allows recruiters to measure the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts and make adjustments as needed to achieve their hiring goals.

  • Optimizing Recruitment Strategies: Descriptive analytics provides insights into which sourcing channels, job boards, or referral programs have yielded the best results in the past. Recruiters can use this information to allocate resources more effectively and focus on the channels that bring in high-quality candidates.

  • Data-Driven Talent Pipeline: With the help of descriptive analytics, recruiters can maintain a talent pipeline based on historical data. By understanding candidate behavior and preferences, recruiters can engage with potential candidates more effectively, even if there are no immediate openings.

  • Resource Optimization: Through descriptive analytics, recruiters can assess the effectiveness of different recruitment initiatives and allocate resources wisely. This can lead to cost savings and more efficient use of time and manpower.

What Are Descriptive Analytics Activities?

Descriptive analytics encompasses several activities that aid in understanding past data and extracting meaningful insights. Some key descriptive analytics activities include:

Data Collection and Aggregation

Gathering relevant data from various sources and consolidating it into a single, comprehensive dataset is the initial step. This ensures that a complete and accurate data pool is available for analysis.

Data Cleaning and Preparation

Cleaning and preprocessing the data to eliminate errors, inconsistencies, and duplicates is crucial for accurate analysis. This step involves transforming data into a standardized format and resolving any anomalies.

Data Visualization

Creating visual representations of the data through charts, graphs, and dashboards makes complex information more accessible and aids in identifying patterns and trends.

Metrics Selection and Analysis

Identifying the most pertinent metrics based on the goals of analysis and then conducting a detailed examination of these metrics to extract insights and trends.

Insight Communications and Reporting

Summarizing the findings in clear and concise reports or presentations, ensuring that the insights gained from the analysis are effectively communicated to stakeholders, enabling data-driven decision-making.

What Is Descriptive Vs Exploratory Analytics?

Descriptive analytics and exploratory analytics are two distinct approaches in data analysis:

Descriptive Analytics

Descriptive analytics focuses on summarizing historical data to provide insights into past events and trends. It aims to answer questions such as "What happened?" and "What are the patterns?" without making predictions about the future.

Exploratory Analytics

Exploratory analytics, on the other hand, is used to investigate data to discover patterns, relationships, and hidden insights. It is more open-ended and often utilized when the specific questions to be answered are not defined at the outset.

What Is The Current Environment Of Descriptive Analytics In Recruitment?

Descriptive analytics has become an indispensable tool for recruiters and candidates alike in the modern recruitment landscape. Here's an overview of its current environment:

  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Recruiters now rely on descriptive analytics to make data-driven decisions in hiring, leading to more effective and efficient recruitment processes.

  • Enhanced Candidate Experience: For candidates, descriptive analytics ensures a more personalized and positive experience throughout the application and selection journey.

  • Integration With ATS Platforms: Major ATS platforms now integrate descriptive analytics features, empowering recruiters to access insights directly within their hiring systems.

What Is The Future Of Descriptive Analytics In Recruitment?

The future of descriptive analytics in recruitment is poised for continued growth and evolution. As technology advances and data becomes more abundant, organizations will increasingly leverage descriptive analytics to gain deeper insights into their hiring processes. This will lead to enhanced personalization in candidate sourcing, improved assessment of candidate fit, and more efficient allocation of resources.

With a focus on fairness and diversity, descriptive analytics will play a pivotal role in eliminating biases and promoting inclusive hiring practices, ultimately shaping a more efficient, equitable, and strategic recruitment landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How does descriptive analytics differ from predictive analytics?

Descriptive analytics focuses on summarizing historical data to understand past events, while predictive analytics uses historical data to make predictions about future outcomes.

Which industries benefit the most from descriptive analytics in recruitment?

Descriptive analytics can be valuable across all industries, but it is particularly beneficial in high-volume recruitment scenarios, such as retail and customer service.

What data privacy considerations should recruiters keep in mind when using descriptive analytics?

Recruiters must ensure that they handle candidate data ethically and in compliance with data protection regulations to maintain candidate trust and privacy.

What are some common metrics used in descriptive analytics for recruitment?

Common metrics in descriptive analytics for recruitment include time-to-fill, candidate sourcing channels, candidate demographics, and applicant-to-hire conversion rates.

How can businesses use descriptive analytics to improve employee retention?

By analyzing data on employee performance, engagement, and turnover, businesses can identify patterns that lead to higher retention rates and implement strategies to improve employee satisfaction.

Can descriptive analytics be used to optimize job postings?

Yes, descriptive analytics can help recruiters understand which elements of job postings attract the most candidates, leading to more effective and targeted job advertisements.

Can descriptive analytics be used for workforce planning?

Yes, descriptive analytics can provide valuable insights into workforce demographics, skill gaps, and turnover rates, assisting businesses in long-term workforce planning and resource allocation.

How far back should recruiters analyze historical data for descriptive analytics?

The time frame for analyzing historical data depends on the organization's hiring cycles and industry trends. Generally, considering at least one year of data is a good starting point.

Are there any ethical considerations when using descriptive analytics in recruitment?

Recruiters must be mindful of using data ethically and avoiding potential biases that could lead to discriminatory practices in hiring.

What role does artificial intelligence (AI) play in descriptive analytics for recruitment?

AI can significantly enhance descriptive analytics by automating data analysis, identifying patterns at scale, and providing valuable insights into candidate matching and sourcing.