Alexander Hleb will be a name familiar only with ardent football fans, but this Belarussian midfielder possessed a skillset that, applied to advertising, highlights how recruiters can save money and make their attraction strategies considerably more efficient. Stick with me on this…

Hleb plied his footballing trade with Arsenal but his popularity amongst fans was mixed. He didn’t score many goals and, as an attacking midfielder, many fans thought he should have contributed more. For the manager and some suppoters, though, he was considered a crucial part of the team’s success. Why?

Although Hleb didn’t score often, he was always involved in the sequences that led to goals. His movement and passes would create the space for others to flourish and claim the glory. It’s why his departure to Barcelona in 2008 was mourned by many.

The goal scorer is nothing without his supporting cast

Keen observers knew that the goals couldn’t have been scored without Hleb’s involvement. His contribution was often overlooked in favour of fans’ focus on superficial statistics – namely, goals. This oversight has also afflicted the recruitment advertising industry. Much like a goal scorer takes all the plaudits for getting the final touch in football, so too does the job board or media that directly delivers a successful candidate. Advancements in tracking technologies means we no longer have to settle for that ‘goal’ statistic as the sole proof of a media’s performance. We can unearth the Alexander Hlebs of the advertising world and stop ignoring the value other channels add to the candidate journey.

Currently, the more conversions a job board or media delivers the more future spend will be allocated to that channel. What’s missing is the journey, the passing move, that led to that conversion. Smart analytics systems will track a candidate’s journey from the moment they interact with your brand – so the first time they are shown a job advert, for example – right the way through to the point they apply for a role, and even through to hire. At the risk of teaching you how to suck eggs, this tracking capability is enabled by a ‘cookie’ (a small piece of data) being deposited on your computer by a website, which allows advertisers to follow you around the web.

The benefit of seeing a candidate’s entire journey means we can see their route in context. We can see which job boards they visited, how many times they visited them, what adverts they were exposed to, which ones they clicked on, which ones they didn’t – but still saw, what content they consumed on your careers site, whether they navigated away (and at which point), and then how they were enticed back. These metrics systems can therefore provide you, the recruiter, with a complete picture, and smart algorithms can allocate the correct amount of credit for each media channel, depending on the role they played.

It's a complicated playing field, but data holds the answers

As such, instead of attributing 100% of the credit to a job board that obtained a user’s click through to your careers site (and then went on to apply), we can instead see what other channels helped influence that candidate’s journey and ascribe relevant credit to them.

We know from analysing millions of applications across hundreds of clients’ careers websites that the number of channels a candidate is interacting with before applying for a role is dramatically increasing (up to seven in some cases) and that can, in part, be explained by the explosion of the Tripadvisor-style review sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and Kununu, which is giving candidates a more transparent view of employers and encouraging them to find out as much as they can before deciding whether to apply or not. With more channels being consumed, smarter metrics hold the key to determining true ROI.

So, rather than hand all the glory to your goal scorer, a look at the bigger picture might reveal where the real gems lie. Adopting a more traditional ‘last click wins’ mantra could result in abandoning channels from your media plan that are actually working extremely hard for you in the background. You just need the right tools to interrogate the right data to realise it.

European Marketing Manager

Ross manages TMP Worldwide’s marketing efforts across Europe. He is responsible for all online and offline activity in the UK, France and Germany, including devising the agency’s content and social strategies. He manages all other online properties and is responsible for analysing performance across all channels, enhancing the agency’s offering accordingly.