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Here at Stack Exchange, we care a lot about metrics. Even though we just hit our goal of breaking into the Top 50 U.S. Networks, not a day goes by without us asking, “How can we do better? What can we tweak to help us get to #40?” As a result, we experiment a lot. We’re trying to make it easier for users to find us, we’re going mobile, we’re localizing in different languages, we’re making teenie-tiny fixes and testing the results to improve in any way that we can. As an organization, we’re committed to constantly refining our site to attract even more traffic, even more engaged users, and even happier ones. As a recruiter, your goal for candidates should exactly the same: When’s the last time you tested the performance of your job listings?

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Reporting tools for recruitment metrics work a bit differently: It’s not simply organic traffic that you’re looking for – it’s applications from qualified candidates. Keeping a close eye on your recruitment analytics can vastly improve the way you move candidates through the application process and increase the number of individuals in your talent pipeline.

Last year, we built some pretty slick reporting tools into the “my account” section for employers who use Stack Overflow. We wanted to make it easier to measure the success of each product so you can make more informed decisions about your recruitment tactics. If you haven’t dug into this section yet, we encourage you to take a look. Not sure where to begin? Here are three things you can do today to use reporting to your advantage while recruiting—whether you’re keeping track of the data on Stack Overflow or through another platform.

Perfect your job listings.

Putting up job listings may seem like a passive way to recruit: You post jobs and you wait for candidates. But if you’re advertising the wrong way, you’re never going to improve the candidate quality, engagement level, or number of applicants. Instead, think of job listings as a continual work in progress. If you’re not receiving applicants who meet your criteria, take this as a sign that you need to change the way you’re advertising to them.

Remember: This is a developer’s market. There’s always another job available for each candidate. Unless you stand out along every step of this process, you’ll miss out on invaluable talent. That’s where reporting can help. When analyzing the performance of your job listings, take a look at the number of views, total applications, and the percent of candidates who applied after reading your listing.

Here’s what this looks like on Stack Overflow:

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Great, so you received 44 applications at a click-through-rate of 2.48%. What does this even mean? Well, as standalone data, it doesn’t mean anything. However, if you click the “Show Company Average” checkbox, you’ll see a gray line that compares the performance of this particular listing against the metrics of your past listings on Stack Overflow. Now, what do you notice? Your current listing is performing way above average.

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Once you’ve come up with a few hypotheses, test them out. Try changing up the content to see how it affects the performance. Our reporting tools let you view metrics on a month-by-month level or down to the most recent week. In other words, if you change a listing this week, you can see how that affects the performance the following week. If you find yourself with 20% more views and applications next week, you may be onto something.A basic rule of any reporting is to be careful about what you compare. You can’t base your performance against that another company—you’re in different markets, you’re looking for different candidates, and you offer completely different benefits. But when you compare against your own jobs, all of those variables are now constants, which means that there is something really interesting about this particular listing. It’s your job to figure out what makes this particular listing stand out from the ones you posted in the past. Is it written in a different tone? Are you looking for a very different skillset? Is there something about the title that made it stand out a little bit more on our job board? Did you recently set up a Company Page and link it back to your listings?

Job listings are no longer simply a “cut and paste” activity. As an employer competing for talent in this market, you need to fine-tune your listings on a regular basis they attract the type of candidate that you want to hire.

Optimize your outreach.

If you tend to take on an active approach in recruiting, you probably already know that there’s an obvious, bad way to send candidates cold messages. But what about the very best way? Again, because your company and the jobs that you’re looking to fill are so distinct, it’s impossible to compare (or copy) cold messages from one company to another. So how do you measure success?

You can’t compare your message or response rates against other companies, but you can see who on your team has the most success with their candidate outreach. On Stack Overflow, we collect information about the number of searches you make, how many profiles you view and save, and how many messages you send and receive. As an admin of a Company Account, you can see how the “reply percent” compares among your entire team, as shown below.

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Test out your branding.

In the same way that you would measure views-to-applications from job listings, you can use reporting to learn what outreach resonates best with candidates. Using this dataset, you can see that the average reply percent for this company is 59% and an average reply time of 4 days. However, there are a few people here who have higher success. Take a closer look at the messages from your team members who have found greater success and dig into what makes their messages unique. Are they being more selective about the candidates that they message? Are they pulling out more personal details from their profile? Does one of your colleagues have a better way of describing the perks of your workplace? Each change that you make will help you refine your candidate search even more.

Even if you’re not hiring right now, it’s still important to continually promote your company as a great place to work by making developers aware of your employer brand. Developers won’t come to you, so you need to put your company in front of them wherever you can. Hosting offline events, encouraging your developers to blog about the industry, or sponsoring hackathons can get you exposure, but it’s very difficult to measure conversations. Online reporting tools help you to measure the reach of your brand so you can get a feel for how engaged candidates are in your company and your job opportunities.

On Stack Overflow, our reporting tools show you the number of views that your Company Page receives as well as determine the percent of those that are converting to things like interest in your job listings or actual applications. You can see the effect of advertising on the left—which in turn led to more awareness and applications.

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Whether you’re promoting your company culture and job openings on Stack Overflow or another platform, make sure to take a look at where your traffic originates. You’ll see where your major champions are coming from, and you may also learn a thing or two about what else your target candidates live in their free time—and how to reach them. For us, the personal blog of one of our developers has fueled a lot of traffic to our Company Page. Just goes to show the power of leveraging the team you’ve got.

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At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what tools you use to track the metrics of your recruitment campaigns, but it is important to keep some record of each initiative. The more you know about what tactics work and which ones don't, the better you'll be as recruiters, and eventually, the caliber of your entire organization will increase as well.

tech recruiting 101

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Recruiting Metrics

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