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May 3, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

I am sorry. I regret to inform the leaders, the dozens and hundreds of talent leaders who tracked Source of Hire, called “Soo” by me. To the many analysts that have written white papers on the adventures of Soo. To the suppliers and vendors that recruit HR leaders to summits and consortiums to talk about Soo. To all the leaders that I admire that stood at the front of the room talking about Soo. To the thousands of recruiting leaders that have filled out surveys collecting information on Soo. Our friend has left us, has retired, and is gone on indefinite holiday.

When you have a relationship like the one I had, when it’s so familiar, and you lean on it, it’s hard to let go. In August last year, I woke up and the house was quiet, quiet like the night after a loss of a loved one. I walked into the dining area, and there on the mantle was a letter. The envelope said, “Dear Andy,” a name reserved for those very close to me.

Soo told me of an amazing life, and how the time we had spent together over the years was appreciated. Soo was blunt, stating “the time of Soo has passed.” The ask was for me to stay away, to not contact or chase. “I will come to you, ” Soo said. Soo couldn’t bear all the hurt being brought in the name of Soo. The letter was so sweet. Soo talked about all the people who deeply cared over the years. All the surveys Soo has been in. All the PowerPoint presentations. How every ATS and CRM made Soo center stage! That is why Soo slipped away silently. Soo doesn’t have shame about leaving but needs some time to grow and move on. Apparently, Florida and the French countryside are Soo’s next adventure destinations.



I was not sure what to do. I had lost my friend. Soo’s wishes were clear, stay away. With courage and support, I came to grips that wanting for Soo would be playing the victim. I needed to survive. Better yet, I need to THRIVE. Do better. Soo was right; it was time to go and make progress. Soo’s retirement was out of necessity, not desire. So how did I move on?

It took an entire support group to replace Soo. My new friends, called AEIOU, helped me move on, and Source of AEIOU was born. By tracking the source of applicants (A), then who was evaluated by recruiting and submitted to hiring managers (E), who was then interviewed (I), who was offered (O), and who was left unwanted, dismissed, withdrawn, or abandoned (U) – I had clarity and happiness that Soo never gave me. I didn’t know that was possible.

Now I see so much more and feel much better. My confidence is overwhelming. Source of AEIOU creates that funnel we all like and enables for a visual breakdown showing progression through the various stages of candidacy. I recently went to Lever’s presentation in NYC on benchmarking, and they did a pretty nice job showing the data in this way. They have this cool Little Grey Book of Benchmarks. You have to pick one up.



When you breakdown AEIOU (and this a little trickier and takes some pretty good candidate data), you start by breaking the A (applicants) into three categories, looking at the data source.

Ask yourself this question – “based on the data I have available, was this Applicant brought in through a branding method, a sourcing method, or did they apply because they feel they know us?”

These categories are labeled as Inbound, Outbound, and Familiar respectively. I could call it Branding, Sourcing, and Familiar but so many people have their definitions of what Branding and Sourcing already is. I decided to stay away from that noise. A cure for lost love does not include adding bad relationships.

Now Inbound, Outbound, and Familiar are slightly different in each employer. Think of it this way:

  • Inbound. We did not know the candidate’s name, our brand messaged to the market, and we got a response back IN from a new candidate.
  • Outbound. We somehow identified a candidate, we messaged OUT to them directly, and we got a response back.
  • Familiar. Regardless of whatever messaging we did, the real reason they engaged is they feel as if they have a relationship with us, one way or another.

Back to my recovery. Now look at an Applicant, and justify which is the driving force, and track it all the way from A to the what remains, the EIOU. The graphic below does a nice job making some hard and fast rules on what is Inbound, Outbound, and Familiar. A big shout out to my friend and colleague Allison Kruse at KForce (and ATAP board member) for co-authoring this with me over a year ago.

With your tracking down, you can do something Soo could never let me do. We both can quickly assign expenses and human/augmented/artificial intelligence efforts right into a standard cost of recruiting model (preferably using the ANSI cost per hire standard).

We can now see how Inbound, Outbound, and Familiar methods provide a return on investment (ROI).  There are 11 related expense categories that match up well to Inbound, Outbound, and Familiar. These categories, in no particular order, are advertising and marketing, campus recruiting, contingency fees, employee referral awards, job fair/recruiting events, sourcing costs, technology costs, third party agencies, cost of recruiting staff, cost of sourcing staff, and secondary management cost for time.

It would be customary for an employer to match up Inbound with advertising and marketing, campus recruiting, certain technology costs, part of third party agencies (like employment branding vendors), and job fairs. Outbound would be likely matched with sourcing costs, another part of third party agencies (headhunters), and cost of sourcing staff. This leaves contingency fees for contractors, employee referral bonuses, and marketing and recruiting expenses for special initiatives to the Familiar category.

In my next article, I will break down WHY I got here. It took time for reflection. Then it took Soo’s help to understand more. After a long talk many months later, Soo gave me the closure I needed.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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