Big Data is Watching You

In 2015, while working on his Master’s in computer science, Max Rosett Googled “python lamba function list comprehension.” What happened next was like something out of The Matrix – or that’s how he describes it in a frequency referenced article he wrote for The Hustle. According to Rosett, the Google search results page split open to reveal a text box that read, “You’re speaking out language. Up for a challenge?” Rosett clicked “I want to play” and fell down the proverbial rabbit hole into a series of time-sensitive coding challenges. After he passed six of them, he was prompted to provide his contact information. He complied, and shortly after, a recruiter from Google called him for his resume.

Google’s unique recruitment process is well-documented and somewhat extreme, yet the use of big data and analytics in HR isn’t reserved for Silicon Valley — it’s cropping up everywhere.

Almost every computer keystroke we make is traceable, offering a wealth of insight into the searcher —shopping habits, personal interests, email contacts and more — and creating a trail of information about our skillsets, preferences and values. At home, it’s easy to see the analytics at work when an afternoon of browsing online shops results in correlated ads popping up in Facebook sidebars. And yet even as we search the web, few of us think of how this trend infiltrates more than just our personal lives.

It’s no secret that many businesses have been using data points to match the needs and wants of their current and potential customers, but what happens when companies internalize this valuable information to help them find the perfect employee? This concept is actualized in what’s now known as people analytics.

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Kelly S Thompson
Kelly S. Thompson
Kelly S. Thompson is a former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, now a writer and editor near Toronto. She has a degree in Professional Writing from York and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.