The One True Source of Hire

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November 7, 2013

Obviously in this day in age, there are many sources of hiring in the recruiting world. Here’s how one director of recruiting determined which source is most beneficial to her.

By Peter Weddle for

A director of recruiting for a major employer made a bold statement the other day. She said, “I don’t care about source of hire.” Then, she went on to explain.

First, it’s important to understand the context of her statement. While there are many dynamics shaping today’s job market, three are of particular importance when considering source of hire:

  • Number 1: Recruiters have an increasingly visible and important fiduciary responsibility to spend their employer’s ad dollars wisely.
  • Number 2: The applicant source data provided by today’s applicant tracking systems is inaccurate at best and misleading at worst.
  • Number 3: In today’s multi-channel information environment, job applicants seldom arrive at an employer from a single source.

The last two of those dynamics mean that the quest to rely on technology to identify THE source of each candidate is a futile endeavor. The state of the art may alter the situation in the future, but for the present, it is the reality with which recruiters must work.

Given the first of the three dynamics, this reality threatens the performance and ultimately the career of recruiters. They have a responsibility to fulfill and no resource with which to do so. And, that’s the reason the director of recruiting made her statement and, equally as important, it is the reason she changed her paradigm for making recruiting investments.

Stop Thinking Source, Start Thinking Sequence

This director of recruiter knows that, while there may be no single source for an applicant, there is a range of possible sequences. The majority of candidates may have:

  • Been notified about the opening by a job board job alert, then visited the employer’s site to read the ad, then gone to LinkedIn to see if they were connected to anyone at the company, and then applied for the job through the job board. or
  • Heard about the job while networking at an association meeting, then done a search on Google to learn more about the employer, then gone to the association site to check out the job posting, and then visited the company’s Web-site where they applied. or
  • Seen the job posted on an aggregator site, then visited the employer’s Web-site to get more information, then visited Ziggs to see if they knew anyone at the company and then emailed their resume to an employee they know who referred them.

How does she determine which sequence(s) are proving most beneficial to her? The old fashioned way. She sits the finalists down and asks them.

Now, obviously this approach also has its shortcomings. It is labor intensive. And it relies on human memory which is far from infallible.

She minimizes the labor by posing a small number of carefully crafted questions that ask applicants to retrace the steps they took from discovery of the opportunity to their application. She asks them to be as specific as possible about what they did and where they did it.

She minimizes errors by increasing the size of her sample and getting answers while they’re still fresh in candidates’ minds. She conducts these surveys with all those who are deemed qualified for the job and before interviews, assessments or other interventions have narrowed the field.

Her goal is not to find what can’t be found: a single “best source” or even a handful of single “best sources” for her applicants. Instead, she deals with the reality of our multi-channel reality by searching for the sequence of channels that led the majority of applicants to her organization. That sequence is the one true source of hire and the key to meeting recruiters’ fiduciary responsibility.

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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hold Onto the Job of Your Dreams Get them at and today.

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