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Drop-Down Glitches Undermine Accuracy

August 2, 2007
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Related Topics: Career Development, Candidate Sourcing, Employee Career Development, Workforce Planning, Featured Article
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Rule No. 1 for those counting on accurate source-of-hire information: Don’t assume that applicants will remember how they found your company.

    Aimee Brizuela, senior vice president of Aon Consulting’s RPO practice, knows that issue firsthand, and offers an example from consultations with a client on its applicant tracking system.

    The company had hired several new employees and asked where they learned about the job vacancies to help determine future ad spending. Three of the new hires said they learned about the job openings through radio advertisements. Problem was, the company had stopped its radio ads three years before that.

    "It was an embarrassing incident that let the company know there were glitches in its source-of-hire data," Brizuela says.

    There are measures that companies can take to protect the quality of its data, Brizuela says. Employers need to pay particular attention to online drop-down boxes. Applicants often mistakenly enter information, either because they forgot where they learned of the job or are careless about supplying the answer.

    Companies can get more accurate data by regularly updating drop-down boxes so they reflect the media where vacancies are being advertised. An employer that advertises on BusinessWeek’s site and doesn’t add it to the drop-down box will have a difficult time gauging its effectiveness.

    "If you are not diligently updating, then you may as well not bother collecting the data," Brizuela says. "Companies spend millions of dollars on ATS platforms with all of the bells and whistles, but they fail to understand these systems require maintenance to perform their job properly."

    The drop-down boxes should be timely, but they should also be succinct, because job applicants can easily become overwhelmed with exhaustive lists. Companies can help candidates by limiting the number of responses they can choose.

    If the company is dealing with online applicants from the Northeast, it should configure its ATS to display only the advertising tools that are used in their geographic market, such as newspapers.

    "Don’t bombard them with menu choices that they never would have come in contact with, because it makes the process more daunting," Brizuela says.

    There are other measures employers can use to safeguard the value of their information, says George Ozenne, principal consultant at Mercer Human Resource Consulting in New York. He believes companies should make a point of using identification numbers tied to specific advertising campaigns.

    When all else fails, Ozenne says, there is also a common-sense approach: cross-verification. An employer can ask candidates to name the source of hire at the time of an interview. If their response corresponds with the choice that they made on the drop-down box, a recruiter can be fairly certain the information is correct.

Workforce Management, July 23, 2007, p. 40 -- Subscribe Now!

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