If there's one thing that corporate America drills into your head again and again, it's ROI. Especially during budget season. And while I don't miss those complicated Excel models, I'm constantly reminded of the importance of measures. You need an argument for making one investment choice over another. As a former boss always reminded me, "data drives decisions." The problem in our line of work? The data is often flawed. For example, human resources has been relying on "source of hire" for years  and it's one of the most imperfect measures in human resources. I have long argued there is no such thing as a single source of hire and thus no accurate way to measure one. Even pre-Internet, job seekers may see an ad in a newspaper but were informed about the job from friends, family, college professors or career offices.

If recruiters want to continue to rely on flawed data, that's their choice. But let's be clear--these measures should not, and cannot, be applied to employer brand. Source of hire, quality of hire and time to fill (among other common recruiting metrics) are operational metrics. Supply chain. They're not brand measures.  Here's one that is: we're introducing source of [employer] brand.

exaqueo has coined the term "source of brand" to apply to recognition of an employer's brand: where you're first made aware of the brand, and where you continue to build a brand relationship.  A strong employer brand builds a honest relationship where the actual employment experience delivers on the brand.

Why does this matter? Recruiting and brand strategy are two different things. When it comes  job searching, job boards are still dominating job search internet traffic and social networks aren't resulting in hires.

"I know that many [job seekers] use Google+ as part of their job search, but when I see surveys saying over 15 percent use it as key part of their job search I have to believe that many and probably most of those are incorrectly saying they're using Google+ when they're actually using Google's main search service," says CollegeRecruiter.com's Steven Rothberg.

Of course that's the case. There are so many sources, job seekers are confused. And social networks are part of the marketer's toolbox. They're not good at serving as a source of hire. When I was at Marriott, I refused to post jobs in our [at the time] emerging HR-related social media channels.  Those channels were for engagement and building relationships. And I've said it before: don't recruit on social media.

As a result, it's no surprise that candidate experience continues to dominate recruiting conversations. The applications for the popular Candidate Experience Awards have surged this year with over 24,000 survey responses from candidates across a suite of blue-chip, Fortune 1000 brands. Job seekers care about the experience--including the information they glean along the way. And companies are starting to realize they need this data.

We don't need more channels to post jobs-- career sites, job boards and aggregators do a fine job of sharing open positions. What candidates need--and want--are better, stronger and more informed relationships with the brand.  Job boards and postings are like ecommerce--they 're the sales channel. Consumers don't need another link to buy the product. They need reviews, data about it, other customer perspectives and a better understanding of the brand.

And that's what source of brand does. It measures where job seekers begin their relationship with your employer brand and how deep and strong that relationship is.  Don't confuse this with brand equity (a business definition of the value of a brand in the marketplace)--that's complicated to measure for a consumer brand let alone an employer brand.)

Instead, consider this an employer brand measure. Employer brand is marketing. It's engagement. It's not process or supply chain.  That's recruiting. And recruiting measures are important but don't confuse them with your employer brand.

Source of brand =

sum of where candidates begin their relationship with your employer brand*depth of engagement with each source.

Let us know if you want to be a part of an emerging, important, trend in employer brand.

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