Speed: The Hidden Driver of Candidate Quality

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Oct 13, 2017

Data from 6,600 hires across 10 industries suggests that there’s an intriguing link between a job offer and the timing of a job seeker’s application. Specifically: the early bird gets the job.

This research looking into hiring behavior found that:

  • 27 percent of hires came from candidates who applied within the first two days after a job was posted
  • 50 percent of hires were from candidates who applied within the first week; and
  • 75 percent of all candidates hired applied within three weeks of the job posting.

For job seekers, there’s an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this data — anytime you can get your application in early, your chances of being shortlisted for interview skyrocket.

But if you flip the data around, and look at it from a job board perspective, there may be another big take away. Specifically, any job site that delivers applications aggressively early in the life of a job posting has a higher likelihood that their candidates will get hired or viewed as “quality.”

A Breakaway Leader

To test this theory, we analyzed all the applies driven by the different candidate sources for one of our advertising agency partners.

We measured how much of each sites’ candidate delivery was ‘front loaded’ — by that, meaning what percentage of a sites’ total applicants were delivered in the first two days, seven days, and 21 days after the initial job posting.

The table below (click to enlarge) shows the percentage of their total applies that job boards deliver, on average, within these intervals.

Across the board, the delivery percentages were fairly consistent with minor variation between the job sites. For example, the majority of jobs sites delivered between 3 and 16 percent of their total applications within the first two days of a job posting.

One job site stood out from the crowd. Head and shoulders above the rest, this site delivered significantly more applicants early in the process compared to the other job sites we tracked.

Days after job posting Amount of candidates delivered by leading job site, compared to other major job sites
2 days3X more
7 days2X more
21 days1.3X more

This leading site also consistently ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 source of hire for the organizations that were apart of the study.

Why is this source so good at delivering applicants early in the process? One reason is that it is a job aggregator; it organically grabs jobs from all major and minor employers, when and where they pop up, and makes those jobs discoverable on the platform in real time. As a result, this firm doesn’t have to wait for a company to make the decision to actually advertise the job, nor does it have to wait the 24 to 72 hours for a job to make its way from a career site to an online job board. Arguably, this is why it is returning candidates so fast compared to the other job sites.

Interesting Data. What Does it Mean?

We know there’s a causality between an early apply and getting hired. As to why this causality exists, we theorize that it’s just a matter of recruitment workflow. On a practical level, faced with many applications on their desk, recruiters start at the top of the resume pile and work backwards. That’s the way that all ATS systems work; you assess candidates in reverse date order until you have enough applicants to fill the interview slots. In the U.S., recruiters have to work this way for government compliance reasons. And it massively tips the scale towards the candidates — and the job boards — who get their applies in early.

For employers, the message is simple: a job board that returns candidates early in the apply process is more likely to deliver the candidate that gets hired. You can take this piece of data two ways: either you want to focus your buying only on “quick draw” sites that get your jobs out in the wild super fast; or you should take steps to ensure that all of your paid sources get your jobs simultaneously … allowing the intrinsic quality of the site to be measurable without the bias of speed.

For job boards, this research is an interesting data set and a prompt to think about the delivery model in terms of how quickly you deliver applicants. The data suggests that you’ll get better results when you focus on delivering applicants fast, so there’s value to reviewing speed in terms of getting credit for a hire.

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