How to increase your recruiting roi by mastering your candidate source data

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4 mins, 50 secs read time

When was the last time you reviewed the source data of your recruiting technology or applicant tracking system (ATS)? Have you reviewed the effectiveness of recruiting sources by the number of interviews and hires each source provides? What did you learn?

Source data simply refers to where a candidate originated from—how did they hear about your company and the job opportunity and how did they enter your interview process?

Given the critical role candidate sources play in shaping your recruitment strategies and budget, it makes sense to perform an in-depth analysis of the various sources you currently track in your ATS. Likewise, since source fields have a tendency to grow like wildfire with each new event or online marketing campaign (you know what I mean!), it is essential to create some structure around how new sources are created and how often the fields will be audited to ensure the field structure continues to make sense—and that sources can be accurately tracked and measured.

Having a strong handle on your source data leads to a more in-depth understanding of your hiring environment, which in turn will lead to improved recruiting analytics, more effective recruiting programs, and a stronger ROI on all recruiting investments.

Let’s explore how your company can achieve these benefits by getting on top of its source data:

Mastering the data

Even with the benefits called out above, source tracking remains an onerous process for many companies due to an abundance of source field options that continues to grow with each new hiring initiative. Many companies have embraced a data-driven approach to recruiting—which is great—but most of the metrics they’re tracking only tell them “what” they have accomplished in the way of hiring, not “how” they have made those hires (aka where those people came from). This is why accumulating accurate source data is so critical.

The number of source options can be endless. If you look at your list of sources and those listed don’t clearly tell you where the hire originated from, such as “careers fair”, then your source data is not doing its job in giving you valuable insight into where you should or shouldn’t be making recruiting investments or spending your talent marketing or employer branding budget.

So, to master your source data and reap benefits like a stronger recruiting ROI, you will first need to establish guidelines for defining “source.” This will ensure your team is aligned on what a source really is (and therefore what it isn’t). For instance, most organizations consider career sites, professional networking sites, internal referrals, and resume databases to be sources. Then, use these guidelines to determine exactly what will be inputted as a source into your system (i.e. what the actual name will be, such as “careers site”). Doing so will enable you to pinpoint which specific “sub-sources” will fall under each (e.g. “Indeed”), and thus you and your team will confirm with one another that “career sites” is the source, not “Indeed.” Depending on your organization, you may find it applicable (and beneficial to your data collection) to list individual career sites as the sources themselves. Speak with your team and determine what works best for you. If you’re a smaller but growing company, make sure, too, to think about scalability when devising your source list.

Rethinking active and passive candidates

To further optimize your source data, you need to consider listing sources that tie to both active candidates (those who are actively looking for new job opportunities, whether they’re currently employed or not) and to passive candidates (those who may be open to hearing about new opportunities but who are not actively seeking them out). Recruiting has evolved tremendously thanks to the social web. We’ve entered an era where the internet has empowered people to explore new companies and job opportunities anywhere, anytime. In fact, according to ERE, 83% of recruiters agree that the power has shifted away from the employer and toward the candidate. It’s given them alternative methods for finding jobs and researching employers, all before they apply to your jobs or respond to a message from you.

Further, the traditional theories of recruiting say that 80% of candidates are passive in their approach to job seeking (and 20%, active). However, we worked with The Harris Poll, a leading research organization, to determine the validity of this myth. We actually found almost the exact opposite to be true: 81% of candidates are actively look for jobs today. Case in point: not all sources in your system should be those that tie to passive candidates (such as methods carried out by your candidate sourcing team); you must think about those that relate to active candidates, too (such as your content and video-enhanced careers/job page and any pay-per-click (PPC) job ads you set up). With your recruiting strategy encompassing tactics that attract both active and passive candidates, your source data should be reflective of this.

Tying it all together

Once you have the right sources in your ATS, you can effectively track each candidate’s source and from there, you’ll be able to draw conclusions about which sources are resulting in the most interviews, hires, and long-term employees. From this, you’ll be able to determine exactly where you should be allocating your budget and efforts when it comes to sourcing and recruiting candidates. Overall, you’ll come out on top with a higher ROI on recruiting investment—and see exactly how obtaining and tracking accurate source data played a huge role in that.

But this all starts with having the right ATS—and an ATS in the first place! Check out our ebook, The Buyer's Guide to Applicant Tracking Software, for tips on sourcing the right ATS to fit your needs.