5 Reasons Tracking Cost Per Hire Is (Almost) Impossible

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is that I don’t know which half.”

For virtually all carriers, the cost of recruitment advertising is a huge expenditure, and like a lot of advertising costs in other industries, determining what works and what doesn’t is difficult, and the results are sometimes counterintuitive. Here at Tenstreet, we’re big believers in metrics, but trying to quantify ad performance can often be extremely complicated, and there are many different confounding factors that need to be accounted for, which can otherwise skew or obscure your data. In light of that, we wanted to detail five of the more common “gotchas” you need to watch out for when you’re trying to calculate your true cost per hire.

1. Multiple Applications per Driver

Frequently you’ll see a lead or application from one driver come to you through multiple different sources, and depending on how you attribute drivers to various application sources, this can significantly impact how each source you use is rated.

2. Multiple Paths per Publisher

When you make a single advertising purchase with a publisher, you may end up with several different possible paths that a driver can take to get to you: they may submit a lead from a job board site, click on a banner ad and arrive at a landing page (or corporate website) where they submit a lead, or they may view your company profile on a third-party job board site and submit an IntelliApp from there. When all of these paths are available to you through a publisher, they should all be attributed to that one source, but often they are mistakenly calculated separately.

3. Different Time Scales

Typically, ad decisions are made at a faster pace than the recruiting process operates at. Often you’ll find yourself faced with making recruitment advertising decisions every month, but at the time you’re faced with making new or renewing previous purchasing decisions, you haven’t yet been able to determine whether the purchasing choices you made last month yielded sufficient value. One month is usually not long enough to evaluate properly if a particular source provided you with qualified candidates and hires.

4. Non-linear Progress through the Hire Process

It’s tempting to think that determining the cost per qualified lead or per hire is a reporting process, but it’s not quite that simple. A big complication is knowing when to draw the line in the sand on a given driver. Say, for example, that John Doe is one of the drivers who clicked on an ad that cost $1000, submitted a lead on Monday, and had his background cleared on Tuesday – that’s about 50% of the way through the hiring process. On Wednesday, a verification check may come back with an issue that moves the driver back to about 25% of the way through the process. Depending on what day of the week you evaluate that ad, you can end up with a very different result in how well you think it performed.

You might ask: ‘Well, why not just use the latest point in the process?’ A problem can arise when John Doe re-applies in the next quarter and his status changes. For most of our clients, re-applying drivers make up 30–40% or their active candidates. Do you then lose the analytics on that $1000 ad, and all of the ads that these re-applying candidates used to find your business? Clearly we don’t want that either. The truth is that sometimes we want to recalculate the successful progress of candidates every single day, and sometimes you need a permanent progress milestone determined so that you have a historical comparison that you can look back on. If this is starting to make your head hurt, you are starting to see why this type of tracking, as important as it is, can’t be a simple report in the usual sense of the word.

5. Wide Conversion Variations

Everyone agrees that the goal of recruitment advertising is to find drivers to hire, and that some sources are much more effective at attracting candidates that ultimately pan out than others. But because it’s so hard to measure conversions, many clients are left evaluating sources based solely on the application or lead cost. The true effectiveness of any given source is something that carriers are often left just wondering about, or forced to guess at.

"handles attribution cleanly, reflects real driver market behavior and captures the outcome of each candidate individually"

Obviously, measuring recruitment advertising effectiveness is important, but because of obstacles like those listed above, it’s a hard task to accomplish. To get accurate results, you have to have a measurement system that handles attribution cleanly, reflects real driver market behavior, and captures the ultimate outcome of each candidate individually (how far they progressed through the hiring process). We’ve seen many businesses try to come up with a solution for this problem, and most are pretty unsatisfying. They tend to leave out key elements while mistaking precision for accuracy; they can tell you the cost per lead to the penny, but can’t tell you how many hires or how many candidates in total came through a given spending item.


The good news is, Tenstreet has been working on a solution that ties all of these elements together to provide you with a simple, comprehensive, and accurate way to evaluate the true cost per hire for your recruitment advertising strategy. As a company with extensive industry experience and having developed integrated metric tracking tools that gives us the ability to track attribution data that other businesses simply don’t have access to. We have developed a solution that takes into account all of the confounding factors that have long plagued carriers struggling to determine their advertising effectiveness.

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