For accurate recruitment metrics, don’t rely on Candidate Self Selection

One of the most common themes of the HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference last week (you can see my recap here) was the need for recruitment metrics as part of any recruitment strategy.  Capturing data on your talent acquisition process is integral for a variety of reasons, here are the most common I heard last week:

  • Smarter Decisions: Actionable knowledge from the data enables you to make smarter decisions on where to use your limited recruiting budget (as you know what’s working and not working.)
  • Tell a better TA Story: Senior level management speaks in numbers and the better you can have data to back-up decisions and tell the talent acquisition story, the more they will listen.
  • Identify Critical Roles: Use the data to understand and identify the critical roles that require more effort and work to find qualified talent.  This helps the recruiting team determine where they should spend their time and where they should be proactively building relationships prior to a job opening.

I think any recruiting professional would agree that metrics would help them do a better job and is a focus for their organization. They want the data to make these smarter decisions, improve time and resource allocation and better communicate talent acquisition’s value to the business.

The thing is, however, in talking with many organizations, they are still relying on outdated methods to capture data on where candidates are coming from.  With the dreaded candidate self-selection being at the top of the list.

Why is Candidate Self-Selection Bad?

For those that do not know, candidate self-selection is the moment during the application process that the candidate is asked “How did you hear about this Job opportunity?”.  The candidate then selects from a drop-down list that includes their Career Site, Referral and other sources.  This source is then passed into the ATS for reporting properties.

There are several problems with this:

  • Limited Accuracy:  At this part of the application, the candidate is less caring about reporting the correct source and more focused on submitting the right resume and references.  And it’s been reported that 80% of candidates select the wrong source when asked.
  • Playing the Game: A candidate may select something because they think it will help their application being selected for an interview.  Most common answer in this regard is “Referral”.
  • One Source: Candidates can only select one source and that means that you only can track one source in your system.  The fact is candidates will often interact with multiple sources prior to applying and you need a flexible solution to capture this.  If you are interested in tracking this, let us know.
  • Candidate Confusion: Also with tracking just one source, a candidate may not understand which one to choose.  Do they chose the job board they found the job on or the Career Site where the job board directed them right before the application?
  • Not Every Source:  In many cases, not all sources where candidates can find jobs are accounted for in the choices.  This greatly limits a candidate’s ability to input the right source even if they want to.

When using candidate self-selection for your source tracking you are condemning your source data to be inaccurate.  And this can severely limit your ability to make educated and smarter decisions on the sources you use to attract candidates.  Most importantly, this leads to sticking with the status quo in terms of your recruitment marketing mix ensuring you are not able to get more out of your recruiting budget and the sources you use.

Steps to ensuring Accuracy of your Source Data

So I hope at this point you understand the need to ensure the source data that is flowing into your ATS is accurate.  The next obvious question is how do we do this?  If you are interested, here’s what I suggest:

1. Talk with your ATS provider.

  • Most prominent ATS solutions provide the ability to do source code tracking.  This ensures that the correct source automatically gets passed into the system for candidates that apply without candidate involvement.
  • The way it works is that you create sources in your ATS and then can append the given specific source codes at the end of the specific job URL.  For any job posted with the source code, the ATS will not ask for candidate self selection in the application process but will instead apply the source based on the incoming source code in the URL.
  • Your ATS account manager should know how to do this and can explain this process to you.

2. Talk to your Job Distribution provider

  • Many organizations use job posting solutions in coordination with their ATS to distribute their job ads to the various job boards and other recruiting channels they use to attract candidates to apply.  This helps them save the time and effort required to manually post all these jobs to the various channels so their recruiters can focus on screening and finding qualified talent.
  • You also use this type of solution for the metrics.  Job posting providers can help capture important recruitment funnel metrics including views, apply clicks, contacts and applicants so you can better understand your drop-off rates and how effective your messaging is.
  • Most important for this conversation, job posting solutions can also ensure accurate data is entering the ATS by automatically appending the correct ATS source codes to each posting.  This will ensure good data is entering the ATS so that the reports you create have accurate source data.  It also eliminates human error and the need for your recruiters to remember to add the correct source code to every new job post.

No matter if you add the ATS source code manually to your job ads or via a job distribution solution, it’s important to make this a part of your process as the source data you pull from your ATS cannot be trusted unless you ensure the accuracy of it.

Accurate Data leads to Smarter Decisions

In order to get more strategic with your recruitment marketing strategy, it’s important to have accurate actionable data.  This means ensuring that the data coming into your systems is correct and that all the initiatives you utilize for recruiting are measured for performance.  As an industry, we need to begin doing things not because it’s what we’ve always done but because it works in attracting qualified candidates.

And this all starts by ensuring we have the most accurate data possible.


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