Unfortunately, job seeker behaviour can be difficult to track because the typical candidate journey today crosses multiple job boards, aggregators and review sites on the way to each application.

In this blog, we examine how you can understand which of the multitude of sources job seekers use are yielding results for your recruitment campaigns and resulting in applications for your open positions.

Attribution is a term that comes from the performance marketing world and now applies to the recruitment space as it becomes more and more data driven. Essentially, it is a means of giving credit to the touch points in a candidate’s journey that resulted in an application (conversion), so you can decide where to invest your recruitment dollar in future campaigns.

The battle for top talent is higher in some industries than others. For example, in the tech industry, the shortage of professionals requires recruiters to use inventive and new strategies to attract candidates. Most recruiters nowadays have to have certain marketing skills to make job postings stand out and yield results. That’s why attribution has entered the recruitment sector; companies need to know which campaigns are producing more conversions.

Consider the following recruitment marketing funnel.

The funnel starts with discovery or awareness (impressions) and works down through exploration and consideration (clicks) and further to action (applicants who ultimately become hires). For the purposes of getting a better understanding of how attribution works we’ll mostly focus on the top of the funnel through to application.

Attribution for recruitment marketing works by setting rules that assign credit for applications or hires to specific sources of traffic. This, in turn, allows you to understand costs, source performance, traffic types, medium and other important information about the way job seekers are interacting with your job ads.

Consider the following scenario:

Jen the Job Seeker is a bit fed up in her current developer role, but not actively looking for something new. However, on Monday she logs on to Facebook and sees a social media post, by your company, shared by one of your employees, about open developer positions at your company, but doesn’t click on the link. On Tuesday, she logs on to LinkedIn and is presented with a sponsored job at your company. She clicks on the job and reads the job description, but doesn’t apply just yet. On Wednesday, she visits Glassdoor to check out your company in more detail and looks through your ratings and reviews. On Thursday, she receives a push notification from Haystack recommending she checks out a job at your company that matches her requirements. She does that and then navigates to your website, ultimately finding your careers page and applying for the role.

So, which sources caused Jen to apply for your job? Often companies will think their careers page is performing amazingly well (and a good careers page is vitally important), but this is not the source of your applications. All of the touchpoints before Jen landed on your careers site are what led her to apply for your job.

There are different attribution models in recruitment marketing that work well for different businesses, so let’s take a look at the most common and how credit would be attributed to the example above under each.

Single-Touch Attribution

First touch: This model gives full credit to the first interaction of the candidate with the job opening. It doesn’t provide detail on how the candidate finally applied for the role. In the example above, all credit would be given to LinkedIn and none to Glassdoor or Haystack. In recruitment, this isn’t the most used model.

Last Touch: This model is similar to the first-touch model, but all of the credit is given to the last touchpoint. As before, it doesn’t provide much information on how the user was driven to submit the application. In the example, all credit would be given to Haystack, but would Jen have submitted her application without first seeing the LinkedIn sponsored job or researching your company’s Glassdoor page?

Single touch attribution is useful, but limited because it doesn’t provide much insight into improving recruitment performance.

Multi-Touch Attribution

Linear: This type of model gives equal credit to all touchpoints the candidate made until conversion. It gives more information about the candidate’s interaction with the company, but, because it gives equal credit to all channels it doesn’t help to decide which one was most effective. In Jen’s example, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Haystack would receive equal credit.

Time Decay: This model also distributes credit between all the touchpoints, but instead of doing it equally, it gives more credit to the ones that are closest in time to the conversion. In the case above Haystack would be given the most credit, followed by Glassdoor and then LinkedIn.

Position-Based: This model is an excellent option because it gives credit to all of the touchpoints, but the way it distributes it is different to the other models. It provides 40% of credit to the first and last interactions and 20% to any other touchpoints that the candidate made in the middle of their journey. To use Jen’s example again, 40% of credit would be given to LinkedIn and Haystack and the other 20% to Glassdoor.


Recruiters should use the model that works best for their goals - each one is better depending on the situation. What is certain though is that recruiters have to use attribution to gain insight into the campaigns and sources that produce more conversions. That way, you can make more accurate optimisation decisions on your marketing campaigns and garner more applicants per pound spent on advertising.

If you would like to understand how Haystack’s tech insights and careers platform can add a touchpoint to your candidate journey and increase awareness of your company to your target audience of techies, hit “find out more” below 👇

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