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Fundamentals of Recruitment Analytics: Getting the most out of the basic KPIs

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This article looks at some of the most critical sourcing and recruitment analytics and provides some tips on how to use them together to provide greater context and deeper insight. While this was written specifically for those who are new to the industry and may not be familiar with these concepts, it also acts as a good refresher for seasoned TA veterans who might be stuck in analysis paralysis. These data points might seem basic, but they are the fundamental building blocks for analyzing sourcing and recruiting efforts.

The metrics included in the piece are by no means an exhaustive list of what you can and should be evaluating. Good analysis and insight comes from understanding things conceptually and then using the proper data points for the situation. Great analysis then leverages these data points and others to get a full picture of what’s happening, informing actionable strategies to solve the problem. 

Open Jobs

Open jobs should always be your starting point since the volume and types of open jobs will impact many of your downstream performance metrics. We’re defining an open job as a unique job requisition that’s actively being distributed to your career site, job boards, and other media. Essentially, it’s a vacant seat that you’re actively trying to fill. 

It’s important to understand the volume of open jobs across your organization. But it’s even more valuable to understand the locations and types of open positions. The volume, location, and types of open jobs impact everything from your career site traffic to your marketing ROI. Suppose you get a report that shows application volume is down 20% quarter over quarter. That might be cause for alarm, but not if you had 20% fewer open job requisitions last quarter. Or maybe you’re seeing that your cost per application is skyrocketing. But could that be because you’re trying to staff a large team of highly skilled engineers in a remote market?

The volume, location and type of open jobs provide a lot of context for other sourcing and recruiting metrics you’ll be using. 

Labor Market & Job Competition

Related to the volume of open jobs is the volume of available workers. This metric also needs to be thought of in terms of location and type (or skill set) of the worker. There’s no point in fishing in a dry pond. So it all starts with the volume of available labor in a given market for a given job type. Before you think about a sourcing and recruitment strategy, you need to think about the available talent pool. 

Just like in traditional marketing, there are tools available to measure your potential audience and competition for sourcing. There is a wealth of free information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but it can be difficult to navigate. A more simple tool is the Job Postings Dashboard by Emsi. While this doesn’t give direct insight to available talent, it can be an indicator of competition for a given role in a given market.

Career Site Visitors

Your career site should be at the core of your sourcing strategy — a rich, branded experience with integrated content and a job search customized to your needs. Ideally, it houses both your job posting and employer-branded content so you can gauge active and passive user volume and behaviors over time. While there is a vast wealth of information in web analytics, don’t overlook the seemingly basic metric of visitors. Monitoring this simple metric provides insight into the top of the funnel and, if used properly, acts as a proxy for measuring interest in your jobs and in you as an employer.

If you host your job postings on your career site and drive all of your paid recruitment media to your career site, then you have a solid understanding of interest in your jobs. This is far easier than getting reports from publishers and aggregating them to understand the volume of people clicking on your job postings and job ads. And, if you’re hosting your employer brand content on your career site and driving your branding efforts back to it, then you have a consistent measure of interest in you as an employer, even for passive job seekers.

That being said, you’ll likely need to use the visitors metric alongside other data points to fully understand what is happening. Career site traffic can fluctuate based on numerous factors, one of which is job volume. So, you might want to think about visitors per open job and monitor that trend over time. Imagine a scenario where you open your career site reporting and see a dramatic drop in traffic:

A 25% drop in visits may initially be alarming, but if you think about visitors to the site in relation to job volume, the monthly change may be nothing to worry about:

You can apply the same concept to other factors, like the amount of content of the site, the amount of paid media driving users to the site, economic factors, and a variety of other metrics that can impact site traffic.


You hear the term conversion used a lot in marketing. A conversion can mean many things to many different people and organizations. By definition, a conversion occurs when a person completes an action that you’ve defined as important to the success of your business. This can include completing a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or simply viewing a piece of content.

There are a few considerations with conversions in talent acquisition. First and foremost, you need to understand each party’s definition of a conversion. A publisher may consider a conversion as someone who clicks on the apply button on a job posting on their site. A brand marketer might consider a conversion as someone who engages with a piece of social content. In comparison, a recruiter may only consider a conversion as someone who completes an application. Each of these people may be providing data and reporting related to sourcing and recruiting, but you’ll get a very different story of conversions from each.

Once the definition of a conversion is established, you need to consider the measurement of the conversion. Let’s take completed applications as an example. Many publishers have conversion trackers that can be added to the applicant tracking system (ATS) to count completed applications. And each publisher will report on conversions from their tracking. But if you have an applicant who interacted with a search ad, a job posting, a social post and a display ad, each individual vendor will take credit for that single application, duplicating your results. Not to mention that it’s difficult to cobble together disparate reporting from each publisher. That’s why we recommend using a single tracking platform for your recruitment media. With a unified platform, your definitions and measurements of conversions will be consistent and accurate.


At the end of the day, we’re all working toward the same goal — filling open vacancies. Open vacancies can be extremely costly for a business (more on that in future posts). So filling them quickly, and with the right person, is a critical task. Determining if you’ve hired the right person for the job is a long-term measurement with many nuances, so we’re not going to get into that here. But we should be looking at hire volume as one of the basic success metrics.

A hire is most often defined as someone who has been offered a position and has accepted a role with your company. Some companies opt to use job offers as a performance metric in place of hires, given the many factors that could influence a candidate’s decision to accept the position. Either can be used, and companies should use the one that makes the most sense for their needs.

While hires are an important metric to watch, they’re not the be-all and end-all KPI. Internal and external sourcing efforts may be wildly successful and deliver the right candidate for the job, but other factors may influence the candidate’s decision to move forward. Maybe the position is grossly under-compensated for the market, or other companies offer better benefits, or their current company countered and they decided to stay. Whatever the reason, you should always look deeper and not take hire volume at face value.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment is not a singular measure. You can calculate your ROI in many different ways. That’s why it’s important to establish your definition of “investment” upfront and make sure all parties understand what is included in the metric.

Unlike product marketing, we don’t have sales figures to calculate a percent return. Instead, in recruitment marketing we often think of ROI in terms of cost per conversion, or the amount of money spent on marketing divided by the number of conversions from marketing. The most common metrics for this are cost per application (CPA) and cost per hire (CPH).

  • Cost per Application (CPA) – the amount of money spent on trackable media divided by the number of trackable applications, represented in currency.
  • Cost per Hire (CPH) – the amount of money spent on trackable media divided by the number of hires from trackable media, represented in currency.

Of course, these metrics on their own are missing context, and not super helpful unless used comparatively. You can compare CPA across media to determine if a specific media site or strategy is less efficient than others. Or you can compare CPH from media to CPH from other sources of hire like staffing firms and candidate databases. But each of these still has limitations. Looking at CPA and CPH across media assumes you’re using the same strategy and recruiting for the same roles across different media executions, and that’s not often the case.

The best approach to measure ROI is to segment out your audiences and ad spend by market and job type. This is not often easy given the limitations of some media, but if you can do it, the results will be much more impactful. Which narrative would you rather take to your stakeholders:

“We got a $5 CPA on Indeed and a $6 CPA on Glassdoor, so we’ve allocated more budget to Indeed.”


“It’s costing us about $6 per apply for our retail positions, which is what we typically see. But applications for our data analyst positions are $100 each, which is much higher than normal. Job postings for data analysts are up 60% in our target market, so there is more competition, which is driving up the CPA. We should look at other tactics to recruit for data analyst roles, and we should evaluate our EVP specifically for our tech positions.”

Putting the Numbers to Work

The data points discussed here are just a starting point. And even these may not be the answer to your questions. In fact, many of the singular metrics you’ll come across don’t actually answer any questions. A single metric may tell you what is happening, but you’ll need a combination of other data points to tell you why something is happening.

To accomplish this, you’ll need an integrated talent acquisition platform that measures and reports on these and other important metrics. You’ll need additional data from third party sources to put your numbers in perspective. And you’ll need a team of savvy thinkers who know your business and understand what your data is really saying. We offer all this and more at TMP, and we’re committed to delivering the talent acquisition results you expect and deserve.

Want to see what we can achieve together? Connect with us today.

About Tim Sodko

Tim joined Radancy in 2009 as an Analyst and has worked on and/or managed various teams in the Media and Analytics departments. This has provided him with a well-balanced view of customer challenges, and how Radancy data can help solve those challenges. In his current role, Tim acts as the driving force behind Radancy’s analytics and reporting offerings. He has redefined the way we collect data and present information to our customers. Through client consultations, market research, and an innate curiosity, he can find a solution for nearly any reporting challenge.

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