New Source of Hire Study Shows Job Boards Strong Performers

HR technology provider SilkRoad says jobs search site is the leading source of external hires for its 700+ customers, providing 42 percent more new employees than CareerBuilder, the #2 source.

Overall, the SilkRoad results show job boards accounting for a high percentage of hires that aren’t either internal candidates, referred by employees, or come through the company career site.

SilkRoad pulled the source of hire data directly from its clients’ OpenHire systems. Doing it that way, says SilkRoad, yielded data from “200,000 job postings, 9.4 million applicants, and over 100,000 hires.”

In reporting the results on the company blog, SilkRoad said that because its OpenHire system automates candidate source tracking, “The metrics in this study offer a uniquely accurate measure of source effectiveness.”

What SilkRoad found is that 55 percent of the total hires came from three sources: internal employee candidates, employee referrals, and company career sites. The balance of the candidates primarily came from job boards, which, in addition to Indeed and CareerBuilder, included Monster, Craigslist, LinkedIn, and SimplyHired.

SilkRoad noted that its data is more reliable than that used in other studies. “Prior research has been less than adequate, based on survey data from relatively small sample sizes,” the company says on its blog.

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Interestingly, the most recent source of hire study to be released — and the only one that has been publicly released for over a decade — tracks surprisingly well in some areas with what SilkRoad found. Released last month by the talent consultancy CareerXroads, the study found job boards provided a high percentage of all external hires.

CareerXroads principals and report authors Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler compiled their results from 36 responses to their survey. Yet, they found that internal candidates, employee referrals, and corporate career sites combined accounted for about 63 percent of the hires.

They reported their results differently, for instance counting employee referrals and corporate sites as sources of external hires and reporting the results individually. Still, when it came to job boards, their results show Indeed accounts for slightly more hires than does CareerBuilder, while Monster, Craigslist, and SimplyHired provide fewer hired candidates.

The numbers certainly don’t line up anywhere nearly precisely, but having as much similarity as exists between the results offers recruiters and HR leaders firmer ground for their own comparisons. And more results can be expected. SilkRoad says, “Stay tuned as we continue to dig deeper into this data to share more findings on source effectiveness”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


33 Comments on “New Source of Hire Study Shows Job Boards Strong Performers

  1. I like to think that at a minimum we’re learning that candidates are still using job boards. Not new news to anyone.

    But SIngle source of hire is dead. There’s no way to count for single source of influence. Once we stop trying to measure single source of hire, we’ll be better recruiters. Even if the candidate found the job through a job board, there’s a likely chance they were influenced along the way by some other source.

    And sure, you can pull source of hire directly from the ATS. But data coming out is only as good as the data going in. And how companies ask new hires how they found the job, when they ask them, and the choices they provide when ask all plays a huge role in whether this data matters. I’d rather we use the data to ask–is this really how we want candidates to find us.

  2. Doesn’t indeed spider the web – – kind of like an aggregate and pulls from all over so may gather the information for the job seeker but it may not be the true source from which it was pulled

  3. Susan – as usual — is absolutely correct. Our industry has taken huge steps forward in the past few years in actually attempting to track source of hire.

    Most employers do so exceedingly poorly as they rely on candidate self-identification despite research showing that at least 83 percent of candidates who click from one web page (the source) to the employer’s application page (the destination) fail to accurately identify their source.

    The employers who do a good job of tracking source of hire use fully automated tracking systems which assign unique web page addresses (URLs) to every source. Most of the leading ATS have this feature built-in although some of those ATS charge additional fees for this “add-on” and that dissuades their clients from tracking their sources of hire. It amazes me how many applicant tracking systems therefore do a terrible job of tracking applicants before the point of application.

    The next step for these employers is to track multiple sources of hire. If an employer posts a job to Careerbuilder, Careerbuilder crossposts the job to Indeed, the candidate sees the posting on Indeed, and then the candidate clicks to the employer’s ATS-powered page to apply, what’s the source of hire? If the candidate self-identifies in a somewhat accurate way, they’ll likely say Indeed as they won’t realize the job was posted to Careerbuilder. But the employer paid Careerbuilder for the posting so Careerbuilder should get credit if only one source gets credit. Better yet would be for Careerbuilder and Indeed to share that credit.

  4. I completely agree with Steven. It would be very interesting to see if Silk Road could break apart the Indeed source of hire data and determine the original source that Indeed ‘aggregated’. Until you do that, the Indeed number – while good for Indeed – is a bit meaningless for the employer.

  5. @Steven can I tell my future hubby that someone thinks I’m always right? 🙂
    Seriously though, I blogged about this last week. It’s frustrating that we all know single source of hire is a unreliable metric, and yet we continue to research, write and blog about new statistics on single source of hire.

    I would take it a step further though. While I think the ATSs that track unique web URLs is a good first step but we’re missing what influences the activity and choice. I’m not a researcher by trade, but if I was, I’d run a study on the job search process measuring for source inputs and influencer data along the way.

  6. @Jeff DickeyChasins – Jeff, you are completely wrong.

    Indeed aggregates jobs directly from OpenHire’s companies career sites, and sends candidates directly to those jobs to apply. Job board postings have nothing to do with the number of hires Indeed provides.

    Additionally, when Indeed drives candidates to Careerbuilder or any other job board, and then the applicant applies to the job, Careerbuilder or the other job board gets credit for that application, not Indeed.

    If anything, Indeed is under-represented in this data as an originating source.

  7. Sure, source of hire is critical to know where to apply your resources best…unfortunately, all of the current methods in play only track the activity once a job seeker action is taken. In a world where the volume of Internet content with 1.5B FB posts, 1.6M Blogs, 140M Tweets, 2M YT Videos, 10M Tumblr posts are added every DAY – it seems kind of silly to even bother tracking Job Post submit clicks. I could be wrong, but my guess is that there are a very small percentage of Job Post Submit clicks that aren’t influenced by some other factor beyond just seeing a job ad or posting…

    I would think that a survey of job seeker activity in what caused them to click the submit button on the Job Post is a much better indicator – and will provide a better understanding of where to allocate job attraction resources – no?

    In the Boston area there are a slew of companies working like crazy to unlock the “Big Data” door, in an attempt to provide Data Management tools that will answer some of the cause and effect questions of Internet behavior. To me, this is the area to keep a keen eye on for understanding why someone applies or not…

  8. @Susan, @K.C., @Jeff: I didn’t get into that part of the CareerXroads report in this post, but if you click over to my previous post about it, or go directly to the CareerXroads site, you’ll see that Gerry and Mark addressed the very issue you’re discussing here. They made the first, significant attempt I’ve seen to get at what influences a job seeker to look and apply from where an ATS says they did.

  9. Thanks John – I read Mark and Gerry’s report when you first wrote about it – and as the first page of the report states, it raises a lot more questions than they answer when it comes down to what is influencing job seekers to press the “submit” button…

    Both reports are very helpful nonetheless and I appreciate you bringing them to ERE so I don’t have to scrounge around looking for them!

  10. Hmmm. If we can’t yet figure out where candidates come from, maybe we at least can figure where they DON’T come from, and stay away from those sources…



  11. It is great to see where the ” job boards” are getting more credit this year. To add to this report analysis it would be to include the number of advertisements placed by source. In the allocation of resources for companies recruitment efforts, the perceived value in which they utilize other sources that rank lower in delivering a hire continue to capture over 60% of investment. As it relates to cost of hire of the top two sources listed, I would bet it is less the 50% of the average cost per hire. If these sources of Internet recruiting did not exist expect to ask for 75% more budget to recruit with no metrics to back up the request.

    Also remember that an active and a passive job seeker is only a matter of timing! A active seeker or a passive seeker is interested in 2 things … To get educated or get inspired about the opportunities that our out there. It is human nature to seek.

    The best place to get intelligence on the labor market and the beliefs, perceptions and behavior of talent is the one that has captured the most data points. I have found that careerbuilder has it. Get smart, get strategic, get rewarded….

    Think like a marketer and understand the consumer.

  12. @Jim Johnston – not sure you can put so much faith in Job Boards Jim…I’ve been told that the percentage of “native Job board hires” – ones that originate within the Job Board site with no other catalyst is in the low single digits (comes from Job Board insiders – names withheld to protect the innocent…). It seems to be way more common for people to use Job Boards as a final destination – as a tool to apply than anything else…ass an alternative to a company Career page that are frequently hard to navigate to…

    With the volume of content inputs off the charts, it would be hard to fathom that candidates wouldn’t have researched the company or heard about the opening someplace else before going to the Job Board site to put their name in the hat…

    I must say that I really do like the way you describe the core interests of job seekers “get educated or get inspired” – this is great!

  13. @KC not sure what is job board insider but some objective data would be nice versus a hear say. In basic marketing the AIDA principle still applies. AIDA is an acronym used in marketing that describes a common list of events that may be undergone when a person is selling a product, service or an employment opportunity. The reason everyone should have more faith in job boards is that the consumer can maximize their time and effort in gaining Awareness, Interest, Desires and most importantly take Action by applying. Job boards do all three still the best in the industry. Average applies have only risen in the last 2 years from an average of 32 to 57. The place marketing should place its resources is in the action as it can be validated for ROI. I do agree that there is other areas that needs a presence with so many options to consume content. For example, 63% of job seekers will look at social media to get an idea of employment brand. The thing is they go there to seek information but are not taking action. Companies need to grow the pie not just reallocate it.

  14. @ Everybody: Besides a job board’s resume bank( and sometimes an internet search), where else can you quickly and easily find a number of the people you’re looking for along with with their direct contact information?


  15. A recruiter told me recently that if given the choice, some candidates will identify a company’s web site as their source because they believe it makes them look better to the employer. And related, if this is the case, you have to wonder to what extent are candidates finding jobs on boards, bypassing the board to find the job on the employer’s website, applying there, and denying the board any credit? I realize this may not be a measurable phenomenon but do you have any sense that this is “indeed” happening?

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