Being a recruiting nerd, I was excited when two separate talent leaders told me last week that they spend several hours each month in Google Analytics. During hundreds of conversations with talent leaders over the last two years, this has been a rarity. To have two in one week was refreshing. Refreshing because Google Analytics provides actionable insights to guide the growth of your careers site.
The high-level of interest these talent leaders have in Google Analytics got me thinking. There’s so much chatter across the HR blogosphere about “big data”. But how many talent leaders are looking at the “little data” that is sitting right in front of them?
The nice thing about “little data” is that it is much easier to find, understand, and evaluate. It’s not nebulous, and it gives you a baseline to measure progress. Not to mention, Google Analytics is free. Yes, Google Analytics can be complicated and you’ll likely need to tap your closest marketing analytics friend for help. But the results can be eye-opening (and downright addicting) as you evaluate the performance of your careers site.
Here are 5 “little data” metrics you should look at as you evaluate the performance of your careers site.
1. Traffic Sources
Most companies are paying for job postings. Your job postings are likely living on Craigslist, Dice, Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, or a myriad of other websites. The question is…how much traffic do they bring to your job pages?
Of course, most companies pay close attention to the hires coming from each traffic source. It’s obviously important to have information on hires. And you’re likely calculating the value of traffic sources by cost per hire. If this is the only thing you are measuring for value, you are not seeing the entire picture however.
What you are missing is how many opportunities each traffic source is bringing you. Candidates are clicking on your job postings because they saw something of interest or relevance. For this reason, it is important to know how much traffic these sites are bringing to specific job pages.
In Google Analytics, you can quickly find this information. In the image, you can see the first two steps in the left hand navigation. That brings you to a baseline report of your traffic sources. Once there, click a specific source on your list. In this case, I clicked Glassdoor. You can then drill deeper by selecting a secondary dimension. In this case, I chose region to see which state Glassdoor’s traffic is coming from.
It’s interesting to evaluate geolocation-data, but it’s just one example. Clicking on the secondary dimension provides many more options including: user demographics, type of web browser, type of device, etc. This is critical as you optimize the candidate experience for different traffic sources to your careers site.
2. Application Sources
Where traffic sources equal opportunities, clicks on apply equal a candidate taking action. This is a key step for your careers site. Knowing the next level of engagement you are getting from different traffic sources helps you tune your approach. It also helps you understand the candidate experience at a deeper level.
Obtaining this information is one of the trickier parts of Google Analytics. You’ll likely need the assistance of your webmaster to set up clicks on apply as “events” in Google Analytics. Once this is done, viewing the analytics is very easy.
For this example, the first step in this image was to click on Behavior in the left hand navigation. That is followed by clicking Top Events in which we have “apply” labeled as an event. This will pull up the aggregate view of your clicks on apply.
The third step is to click on a secondary dimension to view specific data. This is where you can look at analytics on: audience, device, geolocation, etc. In this example I looked closely at the source of clicks on apply.
Your sources of clicks on apply vary greatly based on the job category and geolocation of the job page. In this example, a global employer is opening a new market in Asia. They wanted to identify which sources of traffic were driving candidates to click apply on their job pages. The “little data” in this case allows them to decide where to pay for job advertisements in this new market.
3. Top Performing Jobs Pages
Do you have a “greatest hits of job pages”? If you do, you’re way ahead of the competition. In most cases, job descriptions have been treated as a commodity. They are part of the transaction of applying for a job.
Smart talent leaders know this is a missed opportunity. The job page is the last step in the candidate’s journey of evaluating your company. They either click apply, or they don’t.
The job page could also be the candidate’s first impression of your careers site if they clicked from an advertisement or social share on another site. First impressions influence how long they will stay, and how deeply they will engage.
The key here is to identify trends. Are there certain job pages that are performing well, and why? Do job categories and geolocations have specific trends of their own you can capitalize on?
Trends to look for include: high number of unique visits, high time on page, and a low bounce or exit rate (explained below). These criteria indicate which pages are getting the highest engagement.
Once you identify your “greatest hits of job pages”, you have an opportunity to examine these job pages performed so well. Are they simply high-demand positions, or is there something in the job advertisement or traffic source that makes it an outlier? Understanding these trends helps you replicate this candidate experience across your other job pages.
4. Free Candidate Acquisition
Go to Google and search any of your jobs, geolocations, team members, etc. Do you know what you’ll find? You need to, because candidates are doing these exact searches while researching your company. This is another big opportunity being overlooked by many talent leaders. In fact, most companies are paying third-party websites to take their search traffic to job-level pages. This heavily dilutes free candidate traffic to your job pages.
Here’s how this happens. As candidates search Google for relevant information on your jobs, traffic is sent to destinations like Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and the main page of your careers site. The bad news for talent leaders is that these destinations advertise jobs for other companies. It’s also bad news because traffic that does convert to your careers site is largely coming to the main page. That leaves the candidate searching again for the job page relevant to them.
The key thing to understand is that candidates are searching up to a dozen sites while researching your company. They want to know more about who they would work with, who they would work for, and what the culture is like. Understanding that, you can take measures to optimize how you job pages for ranking better in search results.
Optimizing search results to job-level pages is challenging, but the reward is free candidate acquisition. Start by understanding what your baseline of free traffic is today. Follow the three steps in the image, and you can see which of your job pages are being landed on from Google organic (free) traffic. You can now identify your highest valued job pages, and start following that recipe.
5. Candidate Drop-off
You likely know how many candidates are completing the online application through through the dashboard of your ATS. This is pretty common information for talent leaders. To take it a step further, start examining the drop-off rates earlier in the online candidate experience.
One way to spot trends in the drop-off rate is by looking at your bounce rate. These are visitors who come to your careers site and look at one page only. This happens for a variety of reasons, and it’s a good idea to figure out why. If candidates come to your careers site and bouncing after one page, it means they are likely not getting to the apply page.
The key is to see if there are trends in the bouncing. Perhaps it’s candidates on a specific browser or device. That may suggest a usability issue on your site. Perhaps it’s a specific geolocation bouncing at a high rate. This may suggest language or localization issues. It could also mean that advertising sources in a specific geolocation are underperforming.
Traffic bouncing is not always a bad. Don’t be alarmed if your job pages are seeing a 30%-50% bounce rate. Job pages are single pages often clicked on from another website. If it is a landing page on your careers site, that is a different story. That means 30%-50% of candidates are not making it to specific job pages where they can click apply.
You should also look at the exit rate of your job pages. This is an additional measurement which tells you the percentage of people exiting your careers site from a specific page. This is very helpful for further identifying trends for underperforming job pages.
Bonus: Desktop vs. Mobile Traffic
Along with ‘big data”, another other buzzy phrase in recruiting technology is “mobile recruiting”. You’ll hear trumpets blaring about the burgeoning onslaught of candidate’s searching for jobs on their mobile device. While this is one view of the candidate experience, it’s not the exclusive path. That’s why you need to take advantage of Google Analytics to identify what browsers and devices candidates are using to reach your careers site.
The truth is that job pages may actually be finding candidates on a mobile device versus the candidate always finding the job. Social news feeds, text, and email sharing are two big examples of this, and lend themselves to your referral campaigns.
You can identify which traffic is coming from desktop and mobile devices easily in Google Analytics. Simply click on the secondary dimension button for any data category you are viewing. Once there, click on the “visitors” tab and you’ll see options for browser and device. Clicking on either will give you the specific percentages of traffic, time on page, bounce rate, etc. for each job page.
This will give you more guidance on how to build a better mobile experience. First, determine where you need to be mobile and the audience you need to serve on that platform. This will make you more informed about the business case at hand with your mobile careers site visitors. You can also make sure you’re still serving a great candidate experience for your desktop users. For example, you may find the majority of clicks on apply are still from a desktop browser. Understanding that is of primary importance to driving a positive candidate experience.