Are you Tracking Source of Hire?

October 28, 2014

Regardless of department, most business processes can be broken down to:

Goals > Tactics > Deliverables

In the context of Human Resources, “deliverables” are obtaining and retaining the talent your organization needs to propel the company forward.

But “goals” are often a big, strategic, hard-to-quantify adage. “Set priorities for leadership development,” or “improve employee happiness and retention.” For internal hiring managers the goal may be slightly narrower, “increase R&D staff by 20%,” but a goal doesn’t explain how to do that.  Tactics do.

So let’s talk tactics for a moment. 

Steal Borrow Tactics from Recruiters

A shared goal of both staffing departments and external recruiters is to hire or place the best quality talent at the lowest cost. Tactically, what does that look like?

The web is littered with recruiting process flow charts, but the common points are:

  1. Source candidates.
  2. Attract candidates; compel them to consider the position or apply.
  3. Interview / qualify candidates.
  4. Send best suitable candidates to the client.
  5. Measure the efficacy of the campaign for each candidate source in terms of both volume and quality.
  6. Scale what works. Eliminate what doesn’t.

Internal hiring managers are very good at steps 1-4 but tend to overlook steps 5 & 6.

Track your Candidate Sources

If you’re working a table at a career fair, tracking source of application and hire is a fairly simple process – just aggregate names, resumes, and where you met them – separate by location. Same goes for employee referrals, contractor conversions, and applicants routed through a staffing agency.

But according to a CareerXRoads survey 51.4% of all responding employers do not use Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firms for US or Global recruiting. And that same survey reveals “approximately 60% of the respondents claim that they touch or track every F/T US hire –whether via internal movement or sourced externally.” Subtext being the other 40% aren’t measuring their source of hire accurately.

Which corroborates what we already know here at, a sizable percentage of companies are not using tracking links to attribute their web-based source of applications and, thus, can’t be measuring their Source of Hire.

Measure the Efficacy of your Efforts (or, Think Like Drucker)

‘What’s measured improves’. – Peter F. Drucker

Source of Hire, yes, can be a difficult thing to track and this post won’t enter the fray about “which source should get credit?” or defining influence. But the simplest way to improve your understanding of candidate sources and get much better data on your recruiting campaigns is to use an individual tracking URL whenever you post a job. Anywhere. That includes job boards like, Craigslist posts, and even emails sent through your CRM.

With a tracking URL linked to your job postings you can measure:

  • The total number of clicks sent to your ATS from each job advertisement.
  • The total number of completed applications from each job advertisement.
  • The Conversion Rate (# of applications / # clicks x 100) for each job advertisement.
  • Cost Per Application (Cost to Post Job / # of Applications) for each job advertisement.

Suddenly you know what works and what doesn’t – and have numbers to prove it.

And, from this set of data, you know things like “Where our highest volume of applications are coming from” and “Which candidate source gives us the our lowest Cost Per Application or Hire.” (Bonus: these are great statistics to have on hand at your next budget meeting.)

The real benefit, however, is that with these benchmarks in mind you can continue trying new candidate source pools and have a yardstick to measure their efficacy by. The ones that don’t measure up you simply eliminate, and reinvest the budget allocated to them into sources of hire that are producing high quality candidates.

The Massive Advantages of Thinking like a Recruiter

  1. Tracking acquisition sources gives you the information to intelligently scale future hiring campaigns.
  2. It saves you money.
    • You aren’t wasting money on sources that don’t convert or where the cost per hire is too expensive.
    • The more informed and capable you are as a hiring manager, the less you need to rely on external recruiters.
  3. When you do use them, your knowledge will help make external recruiters more accountable.

Of course, measurement doesn’t end with the first campaign. As you continue to launch, track, and try new candidate sources in the future – you will have much more data at hand to continue to iterate on this process.

Knowing what works, what doesn’t, and having the data to back it up is the difference between a good hiring manager and a great one.


Photo Credit: happy