August 18, 2022

3 Reasons You Should Use Data in Early Careers

By Majida Begum

Early Careers is, in any organisation, a complex system. It has interdependent parts, competing priorities and is at the leading edge of fast-moving change. It is also facing a series of challenges that are equally complex: the skills gap, digital acceleration, high risk of an upcoming recession, and the ongoing pandemic.

In a system as complex as this, how do you know where to focus? How can you ensure you are optimising your Early Careers function? How do you know you are attracting and retaining the best talent and gaining ROI?

Here are three ways data can optimise your Early Careers function.

1) Data can provide a holistic understanding of your business

Whether you are a global organisation with a mature Early Careers function, or a small organisation new to investing in the next generation of talent, having a holistic understanding of your system as a whole is critical for setting effective strategic direction. Put simply: you need to know how your system is performing across the Early Careers lifecycle and across geographies, functional areas, or any other silos within your business.

Once you have that data, you can begin to identify how to structure your Early Careers function globally or locally, to meet your objectives and business needs. Organisations with an integrated approach to talent generate 26% higher revenue per person, they have less turnover, and are less likely to downsize during a recession.

Early Careers is a complex system and working within this complexity requires systems thinking. That is what data can unlock for you, through a holistic understanding of your Early Careers system.

2) Data can create focus

Data-driven focus is critical for Early Careers: no Early Careers function can be good at everything, and no Early Careers function should attempt to be. In the delivery of Early Careers, the key is to know where you excel, where you might want to improve and, of course, where your blind spots are. Time and time again, at the base of any successful change is focus.

Early Careers is complex and being a jack-of-all-trades may not be the best approach for where your business is now, and where it wants to be. Data—for example, on retention, on strategic alignment, on ROI—can help you identify where to find your low-hanging fruit, and where you might want to invest for longer-term returns.

Put simply, data can help you identify where to get the greatest return on the next pound/dollar of spend, or hour of your time invested.


3) Data can drive better-informed decisions 

In any organisation, effective decision making is key and in a complicated system like Early Careers, blind spots can hinder effective decision making. Knowing where to focus and having the right data foundations and systems in place is crucial. Without it, we are spending a lot of time making decisions ineffectively. On average 37% of a manager’s time is spent making decisions and over 50% of this decision-making time is spent ineffectively.

In a dynamic and moving system like Early Careers, using data provides objectivity, value and improves the clarity of communication to sway decision makers.


Looking for more on data-driven Early Careers? Drawing on behavioural science, strategic foresight, and award-winning best practice, The Smarty Train’s on-demand webinar “3 Tips to build a high performing Early Careers function” contains the frameworks you need to drive high performance using data in your own Early Careers function. Watch it here.


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