Source of hire—its arguably the most important recruiting metric, yet often the least understood.

In fact, 96% of recruiters say source of hire is an important metric, but 60% of them rated the metric as less than 90% accurate.

So that begs the question, why is source of hire so important– and why do so many recruiters get it wrong? And, how can we improve the accuracy of our recruiting sources data?

Keep reading! Today’s blog post answers your most pressing questions about source of hire and explains why it is one of the keys to successful recruiting.

What is source of hire?

According to one definition, source of hire is a metric that shows what percentage of your overall hires entered your pipeline from each recruiting channel or source (e.g. job boards, referrals, direct sourcing) (source). In other words, it answers the question, ‘Where do my hires come from?’.

Source of hire is often split into two categories:

Internal source of hire: This term refers to any candidate hired from within an organization. Examples include promotion, transfer, and referrals.

External source of hire: This term refers to any candidate sought and hired from outside an organization. Examples include job boards, social media platforms, or thirty-party recruiting agencies.

Why is source of hire so important?

On the surface, source of hire tells you where your new hires come from. That information is useful, not only to understand the journey of past hires but also to inform your future recruiting strategy. Analyzing your recruiting source statistics will help you accomplish the following goals:

Measure the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts:

When you advertise for a job across a dozen platforms, they won’t all yield the same results. Much like marketers track the results of each campaign, recruiters can use information about recruiting sources to discover which platforms they’re using properly and which ones require a different strategy.

Allocate resources to the appropriate channels:

Given the wide variety of channels and tactics available to recruiters, it’s difficult to determine when and where to spend the most money. Source of hire data allows you to spend smarter.

Improve the quality of future candidates:

The channels that deliver the most candidates don’t always deliver the highest quality candidates. Source of hire data doesn’t just tell you where you find the most hires, but also where you find your best hires.

Why are recruiting sources often inaccurate?

As we touched upon earlier, source of hire data is rarely accurate. Here are a few reasons why:

1.    It’s not an organization’s priority.

If a company doesn’t stress the importance of source of hire, recruiters, particularly lower level recruiters, have no reason to seek out or record accurate data. In other instances, seasoned recruiters swear by certain sources and don’t see the point in exploring other options. Other recruiters may feel threatened. Think about it: With automated recruiting software and job boards, they feel replaceable and, as a result, misreport source of hire.

No matter the reason, if an organization doesn’t make an overt effort to prioritize recruiting source data, the metric will remain inaccurate.

2.    There isn’t a set system.

While many organizations recognize the importance of source of hire, very few have a set process to collect and record the metric. It’s often left up to candidates and recruiters to interpret for themselves. This leads to inconsistencies, misunderstandings, and blank spaces on applications.

3.    Lack of segmentation.

Consider this scenario—you hire a new employee and ask them for source of hire. Later, you take a look at their form and it says, ‘job board’. Well, which one? Did you find them on a job board and reach out? Or did they see your listing and apply? Even if you had those answers, there are more ambiguities to sort out—like, will they become a valued employee? Will they be fired in a week? Will they quit in a few months?

As you can see, open-ended questions lead to open-ended answers. Without specific data, you have very little to work with.

4.   Multi-touch recruiting processes.

It’s not uncommon for a candidate to learn about a position through one channel but then apply through an alternate one. So, what is their source of hire—the first or second? By forcing a candidate to choose one recruiting source, you’re forcing them to give you bad information.

5.   Technological limitations.

When faced with a drop-down menu in an online application portal, most candidates will pick the first option. Those who don’t choose the first option are faced with one-size-fits-all responses that don’t necessarily fit their answer either. Because it doesn’t really matter to the candidate, they’ll pick whichever answer seems like the closest fit.

How to Improve your source of hire data

Although we cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, there are several steps you can take to ensure more accurate source of hire data. Aside from our recommendations above, we suggest these best practices.

1.    Ask for source of hire after you’ve hired the candidate.

After you’ve offered a candidate a job, they have no reason to lie. In fact, they may even feel obligated to provide a thorough, accurate answer to their new employer. It’s also easier to collect and record a candidate’s recruiting source in person—where you can ask clarifying questions and have an open conversation about the hiring process.

2.    Incorporate recruiting source into the onboarding process.

Whether or not you own the onboarding process, you should work with all involved departments to collect recruiting source during this time. Ideally, this would happen in person, but if that’s not possible, a written survey will often suffice. If you choose to go with a written survey, be clear with your questions and don’t be afraid to follow up with candidates about their answers.

3.    Ask the right questions.

The key to getting the right answers is to ask the right questions. If you don’t communicate clearly or fail to ask the right questions, you won’t get the information you’re after. Here’s what we recommend:

What outlet first made you aware that our company was a great place to work?

What was it about our company that made you want to work here?

When and where were you first made aware of this job opening?

Was there something specific that made you take the plunge and submit an application for the open position?

Was there anything that made you hesitant to apply? This may include a specific platform, something about our company, or an aspect of the interview process.

How many times did you hear about the job opening before applying?

Using recruiting sources data

Once you’ve formalized a process to collect recruiting sources data, you must also implement a way to use this data. It’s not enough to simply eyeball these numbers—you must analyze them closely and find ways to apply them to your work. Here are a few items to pay close attention to:

  • What channels led to the most successful hires?
  • What channels led to the most valuable hires?
  • Which factors lead applicants to apply for open positions?
  • Which factors prevent applicants from applying for open positions?
  • What channels are spreading valuable information about your company?
  • What channels are spreading negative information about your company?

Use this information to develop actionable strategies to improve your recruiting strategy and manage your brand reputation.

Final Thoughts and Keys to Identifying Recruiting Sources

Source of hire is a valuable recruiting metric, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. No one recruiting metric can tell the full story– for this reason, it’s important to track other metrics as well. Consider time to fill, time to hire, quality of hire, and more.

Remember, bad data is often worse than no data at. So, don’t take your recruiting sources data for granted or assume it’s 100% accurate. Take a step back and examine the way you collect your data. The more accurate your source information is, the faster you’ll find your next great employee.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how we can help you source high-quality candidates. Our business database is the tool you need to scale your recruiting efforts in the upcoming year.

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About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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