How to Use Quality Applicants as a Measure of Success

How to Use Quality Applicants as a Measure of Success

Do you want more applicants or more quality applicants? Ask any hiring manager that question and they will no doubt answer confidently with “quality applicants.” Follow that with asking them, “what is a quality candidate?” and you will likely get a different answer from each hiring manager.

Completed applications are universally defined events that have a clear, measurable outcome. This is why the total number of completed applies is a standard metric by which talent sources and hiring companies measure success, but if quality is the true goal, what can you do to make progress towards using the number of “quality applicants” as a measure of success? To get started, you need to complete three important steps: define, measure, and optimize to get more quality applications.


Define Quality Applications

First, define what quality means to you. It must be a measurable event, meaning one that is standardized, consistent, realistic, and a secondary event to apply. An event is something that takes place, has a clear outcome and that results in a single that can be counted or measured.  For example, an event can be a status event following an application in your ATS.

It should not be something elusive and left to interpretation based on the user. It should also not be so specific that it only applies to candidates that would make it to the final selection for hire. Consider, for example, a quality applicant could be someone your organization would hire, but maybe not for the specific role to which they applied. “Quality” standards for one type of role should not be vastly different from quality standards for another type of role.

For example, if two candidates applied for a JavaScript developer role and both had experience in Java, but one more than the other, would the one with less experience be of less quality? Would defining them as “not quality” prevent them from being considered for future opportunities, like another role in the organization that they are perhaps more skilled for? They should still be considered a quality applicant in this example. The progression of the candidate with more experience is about selection, not quality, so use caution to avoid confusing “unqualified” candidates with candidates you would not select as the final choice for the role.

Examples of well defined quality:

  • Responded to initial recruiter email with continued interest in consideration. 
  • Completed background check - not whether they passed or not, but that they even did it.

Both these measure quality based on candidate engagement with the process and would eliminate any candidates that ghosted you after they submitted an application. This will help you understand what sources provide more engaged candidates that are more likely to be hired as a result of engagement. 

Examples of poorly defined quality:

  • Quality candidates are only the ones I would present to the hiring manager for consideration.
  • Quality candidates are the ones I interview.
  • Quality candidates are the one that pass a phone screen.

All of these are subsequent events after the measure of quality. You want your measure of quality to be something that can indicate where you should invest more effort or budget to drive meaningful impact. Therefore, it needs to be something that follows shortly after the apply event. It also needs to be a fair expectation of what a vendor may be able to deliver. It is not reasonable to expect a media source to only provide engaged candidates that can all pass a background check, but it is fair to expect that a percentage is engaged enough to complete them.


Measure Quality Applications

Measuring quality requires a clearly defined event that is in the critical path of the hiring funnel. An event is a status or an outcome that provides a single data point that can be counted or measured. For example, when someone completes an application, that completed apply is an event that can be counted, and adding all of those events will give you a clear measurement of total applications received. The same type of clear measurement needs to happen for quality so that you can answer the question of how many quality applicants you received.


Optimize for Quality Applicants

The longer it takes between the events of completed apply and confirmation of applicant quality, the less effective quality will be as a measure of automating your media sources. You can reduce this turnaround time between receiving an application and validating a quality apply by optimizing your process to improve the likelihood that those who manage to complete your application will be qualified candidates.

Three ways you can optimize for better quality:

  • Media Vendor Feedback and Signals - Pixels are best, but at least communicate trends.
  • Job Description - Content is important. A job description optimized for quality applicants will strike a balance between providing too much info and too little, clearly communicating which factors are “needs” and which are “wants.”
  • Candidate Expectation Videos - Candidate progression can be improved simply by sharing information with them that sets the right expectations.

"Detraction" has also become a hot topic around optimizing quality and controlling who does or does not apply for a job. Companies have started to be more upfront about the factors that will disqualify a candidate from consideration, with some moving to address disqualifying factors within the content of the job description.

For example, a job description might say "Anyone who does not have at least years of experience with {SKILL} need not apply," OR "Candidates without a certification in {software} will not be considered for this role.”  This is can be an effective and more direct method of discouraging candidates who do not meet the minimum qualifications from applying.


Need help getting more quality applies?

At Recruitics, we partner with our clients to define and measure quality events as well as other down funnel metrics such as interview and hire. This helps our customers understand their data and improve the effectiveness of their recruitment marketing efforts in order to maximize ROI. We believe in leveraging data to make informed decisions that have a meaningful impact on your ability to hire great talent.

We are here to help, so let’s connect!


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