There is No Single Source of Hire

March 1, 2017 | Chris Brablc | HCI
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Source of Hire is an important measure for organizations to understand how the attraction methods they use ultimately convert candidates into applicants and most importantly hires. It gives value to the sources that don’t just provide quantity in terms of applications, but quality in terms of your future employees.

It is no doubt an important metric to accurately measure and understand as it provides insight into how to best spend your finite recruiting budget and recruiter’s time. But as the talent market and the technology we use to engage and nurture candidates evolves, is the way we measure and evaluate also going to change? I would say undoubtedly, YES!


Many organizations rely on Source of Hire to justify and make decisions on the initiatives and strategy they have for recruitment marketing. However, if this metric is not captured accurately, it is not of much use in decision making.

Before we get into what “Source of Hire” typically measures for organizations, let’s get into some of the underlying issues in how we track it. In most cases, the source of hire data is reported through the ATS and there are a number of pitfalls that organizations can fall into when leveraging only the ATS to do this.

While most ATS provide source code tracking to pass the right source data into the ATS for each candidate, that doesn’t mean the technology is implemented to do this accurately by every organization. The two common mistakes are:

  • Relying on Candidate Self-Selection: Let’s face it, having the candidate say where they came from as opposed to relying on actual technology tracking leads to inaccuracy. This happens mostly if an ATS doesn’t provide source code tracking or a company chooses not to use source codes. Not the best decision in either case.
  • Source Codes not passed consistently: If you use source codes, organizations need to make sure they are passed for each candidate that completes an application. While this can be done on a one-off basis when a job opens and is marketed, this is the most time-consuming option and opens up the opportunity for errors. Most likely, organizations will work with recruitment marketing technology providers to ensure proper source code passing into the ATS for every attraction method and source they use.

In each case above, it leaves the organization with data that they can’t have absolute trust in and once you crack the foundation of data integrity, it’s hard to make any meaningful decisions of it. And this is the case at many organizations.

That’s not to say all organizations rely on these methods for tracking Source of Hire. Some organizations are working with their recruitment marketing providers to ensure data accuracy across all initiatives as well as the right data entering the ATS. That’s step 1 of understanding the quality of the recruitment sources you are using.

But is Source of Hire and how we measure it limiting?


The way that Source of Hire is measured today gives credit to the last source a candidate was on before they filled out a job application. What is flawed here is that we only measure ONE source as the cause for the hire or qualified candidate. And anyone that has researched to buy a product or service and in this case, searched for their next career move, knows that one source typically doesn’t lead to an application, multiple sources do.

But we are measuring a point in time, not the whole timeline of the relationship we have with each candidate. Now don’t get me wrong, Source of Application is useful and is a great start for better decision making. But we can go deeper.


Before we get into where we can go with our recruiting analytics, let’s first admit that the dynamic between candidates and employers is changing rapidly. With falling unemployment rates, increased job opportunities available, improved availability of content and information and ease of making social connections, it’s really put the candidates in control of the candidate experience.

The fact is that candidates have been trained to research everything like a consumer because they are consumers. Every purchase decision made requires multiple sources of information to make an educated decision from Google searches to Amazon reviews to asking social connections and a number of other sources. No decision is made in a bubble and the same can be said with what might be the most important “purchase decision” in a candidate’s life, where they are going to work.

We need to acknowledge the days of advertising spend without engagement in the candidate experience are long over. Candidates have choices and we need to stop acting like they don’t. That means we need to market our employer brand, our value and our opportunities in a way that is similar to the consumer experience. A strategy that requires content that isn’t just job descriptions.

It’s a new world, one where we need to adjust how we engage and build relationships with candidates before the apply process.


OK, so the industry has been talking about this for years now and while we’ve made some progress, there’s still a long ways to go. But the crux of the issue is how do we measure influence across the new candidate experience journey.

The point is that while not all sources have the same impact on the application conversion, there are many that influence a candidate’s decision to apply including the Career Site, social, LinkedIn connections, Glassdoor, email engagement and other sources. And not all sources will be converters, some just make more sense as influencers. Social, for instance, excels at informing and engaging candidates with content but very rarely will it convert a candidate via a job ad shared on Twitter or Facebook as the Last Source of Application. Job Ads and the Career Site on the other hand are incredibly adept at converting to applications. All are important and all should get credit.


It’s not like this isn’t being done in other functions. Marketing automation systems used by marketing organizations do this exceedingly well by measuring and reporting on every prospects interaction with the company. This provides marketers with an ability to better nurture potential prospects and understand when prospects are ready to move down the marketing and sales funnel.

Recruitment Marketing is taking a similar path. Organizations increasingly are looking at their attraction, conversion, selection and hiring strategy from a funnel perspective. The focus being on continuously filling the top of the funnel and improving on how the organization can better convert candidates from one stage of the funnel to the next through nurturing, content and recruiter relationships.

By measuring Source of Influence, it will help organizations make better process and spend decisions, improve identification of interested candidates and ensure more qualified candidates enter the hiring process.

If you want to learn more about source of hire and modern data-driven recruiting strategies, Join us for SmashFly’s upcoming expert panel on Talent Analytics on March 14, 2017 at 3 p.m. ET. Save your seat now!