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Originally published on Cornerstone’s Rework Blog

As a writer, social media-centered millennial and marketer working in the talent acquisition industry, I’ve learned to take comments left on social media with a grain of salt. Some are useful, but the majority are from people with too much time or, simply, spam.

But there’s one comment I do remember. It was left on a SmashFly blog post about source of influence in 2015, and I’ve cited it a handful of times since:“There is rarely a single source of hire in today’s hyper-connected reality. Single source of application, maybe.”

Cue swirling clouds, rays of light and that “aha!” instrumental. YES! Someone gets it!

In a 2016 survey from The Work Place Group, 96 percent of respondents said source of hire is an important metric for making recruiting strategy decisions. Here’s the issue: 60 percent of those people also rated the metric as less than 90 percent accurate. (If I presented my annual strategy and budget based on metrics I had less than 90 percent confidence in, my boss would point to the door.)

Yet almost three years later, this is still what talent acquisition leaders are doing: Relying on a single source of application as a benchmark for investing millions of dollars and resources into certain channels and strategies.

 

The Candidate Journey Doesn’t Start at the Application

This is a problem for two main reasons:

  • Source of hire is largely tracked through candidate self-selection in the Applicant Tracking System (think: Where did you hear about us?). Human error (or apathy) makes this method too risky.
  • Source of hire is a single point of your candidate’s story. In fact, it’s not even the point of hire. We all know that more applicants doesn’t mean more quality hires.

SmashFly customer data shows that the average person interacts with 15 touchpoints before applying. And it doesn’t end with application, it ends with acceptance. By not tracking each point and channel of influence candidates touch before and after they apply, you’re missing the bigger picture: the unique paths of your potential, and best, hires. 

 

A Look at Source of Influence

So what does tracking source of influence look like? Here’s how a person might interact with your employer brand in their career search:

  • Visit your career site to learn about people, projects, benefits and opportunities
  • Search Google for news on your company
  • Check out your careers or corporate blog to read stories about your mission or people
  • Follow your Twitter handles (recruiting, corporate, employee, etc.)
  • Search for employee reviews on Glassdoor
  • Talk to a LinkedIn connection who previously worked at your organization
  • Sign up for your talent network
  • Sign up for job alerts
  • Check job boards to see your open positions
  • Open and click on your email newsletter after joining your talent network

That’s 10 potential touchpoints. Does that mean that your career site or a certain job board influenced or compelled them to apply? Most likely, no; the decision was already made. It’s just the mechanism for action.

With the right technology that integrates with your ATS, you can see these actions and interactions in key data points that tell a more complete story, like:

  • How many visitors come to your career site, and what content do they engage with before applying?
  • How did your latest college recruiting campaign perform in email opens and click throughs, and how many converted into qualified candidates?
  • Which channels are bringing in leads that convert the quickest, and which channels are bringing in leads who convert to hires?

 

Marrying Source of Influence and Source of Hire

This, cumulatively, is the story of how your talent finds and chooses your brand. When you can track the candidate journey and marry source of influence with source of hire, you gain the insight to understand and improve the candidate experience. Data for data’s sake is extra numbers; data that tells a story and drives insight is a competitive advantage.

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