Mastering the Data: Using Your ATS to Optimize Your Recruiting

When was the last time you reviewed the source data in your applicant tracking system (ATS)? 94% of talent executives reported they’ve successfully used big data to “moderately or extensively” identify new candidate sources.

Given the critical role sources play in shaping your recruitment strategies and budget, it makes sense to start with an in depth-analysis of the various sources you currently track in your ATS. Having a strong handle on your source data leads to a more in-depth understanding of your hiring environment, which in-turn will lead to improved recruiting analytics, more effective recruiting programs and a strong ROI on all recruiting investments. But first you have to master the source data in your ATS.

Here are three recommendations to get started:

1. Clearly define your sources

Source tracking remains an onerous process for many companies due to an abundance of source field options that continues to grow with each new hiring initiative. Therefore, it’s essential to put some rigor around how new sources are created and how often the fields will be audited to ensure the field structure continues to make sense.

If you look at your list of available sources and the ones listed don’t clearly tell you where the hire truly came from, then your sources also aren’t telling you where you should or should not be spending budget or making other recruiting investments.

I would argue that if a source category can’t answer the question of where a hire came from, then you shouldn’t consider it a source and include it in your analysis.

—Barb Bidan, VP of Talent Attraction, Indeed

One way to establish guidelines around defining your sources is to ensure the entire team has a general understanding of what a “source” really is, and have internal alignment on that definition. For instance, most organizations consider career sites, professional networking sites, internal referrals and resume databases to be sources. Then, use these guidelines to determine exactly what will be input as a source into your system (i.e. what the actual name will be, such as “careers site”).

2. Track metrics that lead to relevant insight

As companies have embraced a data-driven approach to recruiting, many have adopted simple metrics as their primary performance indicators. By simple metrics, I mean data points like number of hires and time to fill. The problem with most simple metrics is that, while they effectively report “what” you have accomplished, they do little to tell you “how” you have made those hires. Likewise, simple metrics lead to overly simplified cost per hire calculations which ultimately lead to misleading ROI calculations.

3. Use data to make strategic decisions about your sources

While the conversation around source data isn’t new, many organizations still struggle with understanding the data to select the right inbound and outbound channels to best serve their needs. When you truly understand how a source plays into a particular category of hire, you can spend more on what works and less on what doesn’t. A good source mix for one company for one type of position may be primarily focused on online job postings. For another, it may include referrals and social media. Accurate source data will give you the insight you need.

Understanding your source lets you fully understand where your hires are coming from, all while optimizing for performance. To learn more, download Uncovering the ROI in Your Talent Attraction Strategy.

Having a strong handle on your source data leads to a more in-depth understanding of your hiring environment and a stronger ROI on all recruiting investments.