Corporate Eye

Information, Please

In It’s not the R, it’s the I, I opened a consideration of how ROI analysis applies to online recruiting in general and social media investment in particular—and I planned to follow up with posts drilling down on these topics. This has turned out to be much more of a challenge than anticipated!

So I’m falling back on an old journalistic trick: make the story the story. And the story is . . . there is very little information or analysis to use in discussing these aspects of recruiting expenditure. Although there are many software products, consulting companies, pundits, and industry associations that refer on their websites and in their literature to metrics (aka “analytics”), online recruiting, electronic recruiting, and so on, their commentaries and presentations seem to be long on rhetoric and short on facts.

I did not find any up-to-date, in-depth case studies or white papers. Maybe they are out there (and please share any knowledge you have!), but I couldn’t find them—and not only could I find no free information, I couldn’t even find anyone selling expensive reports that seem to promise illumination. This is true for HR and recruiting in general, not just the online aspects, as confirmed by experts:

Noted HR commentator Dr. John Sullivan starts off an post on Talent Management Analytics with the sentence “the subject of analytics is often discussed but rarely executed well, even in the most well-established talent management functions.” He continues with a long discussion about why this practice lags (short version: it’s too hard) and how new techniques like predictive modeling and text analytics will be revolutionary—except that “unfortunately, leveraging new and emerging tools often requires that users step out of their comfort zone.” So it seems we will have to stay tuned a while on those developments.

Ray Schreyer (Program Manager of Interactive Recruiting Channels for IBM and co-author of The Employer’s Guide to Recruiting on the Internet) observes on his Corporate Recruiting Blog that the “big three” job boards experienced a 35% drop in traffic during 2008, explaining that “2009 looks to be the year of Job Aggregators and Job Distribution Networks. The Job Board destination model is near dead, and seems only perpetuated by HR Recruiting folks who are lacking metrics and an ‘in the tank’ Wall Street crowd who does not understand the dynamics of the online recruiting marketplace. More to come in the weeks ahead.” But (again) unfortunately, twelve of the weeks ahead are now in the past, and there’s no further word from Schreyer.

In their Hiring and Recruiting Challenges Survey 2008, well-known consulting firm The Adler Group included a section on how recruiters and recruiting managers rank their use of specific recruiting metrics. An article by Bryan Johanson explains the findings, and notes among key conclusions: “Even with all the talk and focus on metrics over the last few years, recruiting departments and recruiters still struggle to implement real-time metrics.” (Though the survey information dates to 20007, it’s worth browsing Lou Adler’s summary of the findings.)

Of course the connection between internet recruiting in general and the Careers website specifically is another topic—one which also is noted by many as (a) very important and (b) not given sufficient attention. I’ll turn to that in the next post, and in the meantime, will keep looking for hard data to support the discussion.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.