“Big data” is the new employment buzzword, as employers are increasingly being approached by third-party recruiting agencies and search firms offering big data analytics as the next talent acquisition solution.

Indeed, over the last several years “big data” has found its way into personnel matters in an effort to predict employees’ or applicants’ future employment performance, success, or even retention prospects. While the upside of being able to accurately make such predictions is clear, federal enforcement agencies are already considering the potential discriminatory consequences big data may have on the bases of race, sex, or other protected characteristics.

So what is big data analytics, and what are its implications for employment practices? In this first of what we anticipate will be a series of guides on the topic, we answer the question, “What is big data?,” and offer some preliminary considerations regarding the equal opportunity and compliance implications of using big data in employment.

Members of the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC) can read more here.