If you happen to recruit for a company that budgets enough money to spend on paid job board advertising, then you’re no stranger to the potential challenge of selecting the job posting sites that are most likely to offer you an intriguing return on investment (ROI). However, in this era of “Big Data,” a decision that used to be closer to a crap shoot is now a more palatable exercise in reviewing site analytics available in your applicant tracking system (ATS).
Now, more than ever, it is simple to run reports that generate data detailing which of your ad sources are referring the most site traffic to your careers portal; and, which sources are resulting in conversions such as completed employment applications. However, you should be aware of factors that may influence your tracking data; specifically, how job aggregators and the use of direct job links can impact your analytics.
What Are Job Aggregators?
Also called job search engines, job aggregators such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com seek to “aggregate” job listing content from as many different (typically electronic) sources as possible. And, with the exception of job listings that your organization may sponsor on these sites, the organic (or unpaid) job listings that are revealed to job seekers who do keyword searches on them are generally compiled because those jobs are originally hosted or featured on another job board.
One of the ways in which aggregators collect job description information is to utilize spider applications that crawl the internet looking for job posting sites so that the content from these sites may be indexed on the aggregator, typically in summary format, and then linked to the original posting site. In this manner, jobs that individuals first encounter on Indeed or GlassDoor.com, for example, might have landed there because they were “scraped” from a paid site such as CareerBuilder.com or Monster.com.
Job Board Scraping Considerations
Job board scraping isn’t new, and some aggregators will even offer to regularly go to the jobs page of your careers portal and scrape all of your active job openings. While this approach requires little to no involvement on the part of the recruiter or employer, it does mean that you don’t really have a say in which specific content from your job descriptions is featured in the search results on the job search engine, either.
The other impact of scraping is that it can sometimes skew the information you are using to determine which job boards are giving you the most bang for your buck (or time). You may have even had this conversation with your account representative for a major paid board, already. It goes something like this…if a job seeker sees your listing pop up in search results on Indeed, and then decides to go to your corporate website to do some research before applying…he/she might never go back to Indeed to follow the apply link which perhaps originated on a Monster or CareerBuilder ad, for example. Instead, having deemed your organization worthy of his/her potential interest, he/she just decides to go to the jobs page on your site and apply directly within the portal. The crux? When asked on the application how he/she heard about the job listing…the answer might be Indeed (even though Indeed wouldn’t have featured the listing without CareerBuilder first posting it).
So how do you make sure you are getting to the bottom of how applicants hear about your jobs? Since applicants don’t always remember (or even truly know) where they see your job opening for the first time, then it is ever more critical to rely on the quantitative data available to you in the reporting and analytical area of your hiring software–rather than applicant answers.
Big Data & Tracking Referrals With Unique Source IDs
Instead of relying on job aggregators to scrape the open positions from your corporate employment page, you can proactively dictate which job-related content is shared with job aggregators by utilizing an XML (eXtensible markup language) feed that controls which fields of data are pushed externally. Applicant tracking software can provide you with this type of resource so that you may automatically push all of your job listings to external job aggregators. This saves human resource professionals time that would have been otherwise occupied by manually postings jobs (that have already been posted once to a company careers portal) to a host of other third-party boards.
While this resource is a great time-saver, its not always completely safe from “scrape skewing”; though, it is certainly much better than relying on source information that is manually entered by applicants during the application process as long as you look at a report that shows the full referring URL for each applicant. This referring URL field can be included in a report using HireCentric’s report building tool. Since accurate reporting derives from unique URLs being used for each ad source for each job listing, the only way to ensure 100% accuracy in source reporting is by using direct job links.
When Should I Use a Direct Job Link?
Also known as a job permalink, direct job links allow an organization to proactively track traffic generated by a specific referral source for each individual job listing. As mentioned earlier, if your paid job board account rep. is concerned about his/her organization possibly not getting credit for all the traffic his/her specific paid board is generating for your organization (undoubtedly due to concerns related to your positions being scraped off the job board by an aggregator), then utilizing permalinks can further uncover the truth in tracking.
The URL address generated for a direct job link will include an ID number that matches up with the ID number associated for a specific job referral source within your applicant tracking system. An especially practical use for the permalink might be when you wish to advertise your new job openings via distribution channels such as social media and email. To track the effectiveness of an email campaign to previous applicants, for example, you might designate “Email” as a source within your ATS, note the ID generated for that source, and then use the direct job link feature to create a unique URL referencing that source ID that will be used within the email messaging.
The result? Email recipients who click on the job link within a message will automatically be recognized and tagged with the “Email” source ID within the ATS. And by running a report within your hiring software application, it will quickly become evident whether enough traffic and eventual applicants were generated as a result of the email campaign to justify assembling future email campaigns with the same structure/parameters.
So, while unprecedented transparency into your recruiting process ROI is now available to you, it’s still critical to understand how the metrics being presented are generated as that is key to bringing either clarity (or cloudiness – hopefully not!) to your decision making process when budgeting for future recruiting expenses.