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Getting Source Tracking Right

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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Aug 28, 2006 4:16:00 PM

Source tracking is one of a short list of primary reasons to use an applicant tracking system. Knowing which job boards and recruiting firms are delivering quality--and how much they are really costing you--is the sort of problem that should be solved in software. Unfortunately, the "solution" provided by most vendors is anything but.

Today nearly every commercial ATS gathers applicant source information through the use of a voluntary response form, like a drop-down list on the company website asking the candidate "where did you hear about us?" It seems so simple, so straightforward, that it's hard to imagine where it could go so wrong. But in reality, this approach fails consistently and badly, for specific reasons:

1. It requires the candidate to apply through the company website. If they don't, you don't get to ask the question. If they do, chances are they will say they heard about the job on the company website, and not Monster or wherever they actually came from. 

2. The applicant needs to answer the question. Questions on your website are like speedbumps--the more you put up, the more people will simply click the "back" button, especially in today's job market.

3. The applicant needs to answer correctly. It sounds simple, but in most cases, they don't. Since there's no incentive for the jobseeker to "get it right," they either pick the first choice (especially if the list is long) or select "company website" because they think it makes them look better.

Garbage in, garbage out. If you only get source tracking data on 50% of your candidates, and of them 50% respond incorrectly, then the smartest thing for you to do is to ignore what the reports tell you. This is what I define as an anti-feature: something you pay money for, but would be better off not using. 

Don't just take my word for it, either: This article by Nicheboards.com was published over a year ago, but nothing much has changed. The way most ATSs today implement it, the results you get are simply not likely to be very useful.

That's why I'm so excited about the new SourcingPlus package we released this weekend as part of Resume Direct 2.0. One of the earliest things we did differently in our system was our 100% email-based application process. With SourcingPlus, we're taking this a small step farther so that each source you get candidates from is assigned its own unique email alias. The result is a system that:

- Works with any applicant source, including job boards, recruiting vendors, and "unconventional" channels like MySpace or LinkedIn
- Adds no "overhead" to the application process, so candidates don't flee at the sight of a registration form
- Ensures 100% accuracy since the tracking process is entirely automatic

Even better, we've made the whole thing almost embarassingly easy to use. We've integrated the source tracking with our automatic job board posting, so all the recruiter needs to do is enter the requisition details in Resume Direct, choose the boards to post to, and we take care of the publishing. 100% coverage, 100% accurate, and 100% easy.

This level of integration has never been offered before at anything close to our rates, which start at $3000 annually for everything I've described here, with no per-job posting fees. So it's not just better than the competition, it's also less expensive. Pretty soon you're going to need an excuse tonot buy HRMDirect.

Warning: This is Just the Beginning
When we launched Resume Direct almost two years ago, we included a long list of standard features like apply-by-email, resume parsing, and automatic grading that were revolutionary for their ease-of-use and low cost. Since then, we've spent most of our time building out the overall product with lots of detail features we learned our clients needed. This release puts us firmly back in the innovation track. The next six months are going to be very exciting as we have a list of features under development which will make this an absolutely jaw-dropping product.