Sometimes HR Tech can take a long time to evolve.
I found this old “Source of Hire Protocol” that I published back in January 2004.
14 years later, and we’re still talking about the same things… “How do you track the inbound source of candidates?”

Fortunately, we’ve moved forward, but it surprises me sometimes that even some of the largest volume hiring entities in the world, still have no real valid data on their “Source of Hires” or “Source of Applicants”.

**** Original Source of Hire protocol and article listed below ****

Source of Hire Protocol
Originally released January 4th, 2004
By Jonathan Duarte, Founder,

“Source of Hire” reporting is becoming critical for any company utilizing metrics to efficiently recruit.

More and more employers are electing to push job seekers to their corporate career websites, to apply for open positions. Unfortunately, these same employers are learning that while the “recruiting process” might have been become more efficient, the ability to accurately track the inbound “source” of the job seekers is being lost.

Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler, of CareerXRoads, recently released their “2003 Source of Hires” report. In the report, Mark and Gerry conclude that “source of hire” information is not being tracked as efficiently and effectively as it can be.

Why do we need a “Source of Hire” protocol?

The definition of a protocol is “a standard procedure for regulating data transmission between computers”. By creating an industry standard protocol for transmitting “source of hire” data, the Internet recruitment industry as a whole will benefit; including, job boards, applicant tracking companies, ad agencies, and employers.

The “Source of Hire” protocol that GO Jobs has released is inexpensive to adopt, non-proprietary, and can be used by any entity.

Of course, the real value of a “standardized protocol” is when it is recognized as a “standard”. For this to happen, ATS vendors, job boards, and third-party entities must adopt and maintain the standard.

A call to ATS vendors to adopt the protocol:

At this time, very few applicant tracking companies have implemented a tracking solution. Employers are quickly realizing the fact that their current “source of hire” data is inaccurate, or otherwise, “suspect”. By offering an automated, accurate “source of hire” your clients would have accurate reporting and place a greater value on the data being retrieved from your software.
For any ATS, considering a tracking solution, GO Jobs recommends recognizing the following protocol.

A call to job boards to adopt the protocol:

Currently, most job boards do not send “referral” or “source” information to the Apply Online URL provided by the employer. By appending the protocol fields below, any company website or ATS that adopts the protocol, will start recognizing job board source information immediately.
Most Fortune 1,000 company career centers are hosted by third-party applicant tracking companies. If the applicant tracking companies adopt the protocol, their clients will immediately gain from having accurate reporting.

If ATS vendors do not conform to a standard protocol, the job boards will suffer the greatest, as the job boards will lose the ability to justify their “value”. If each ATS vendor creates their own query strings and protocols, it will be unbearable for niche and smaller job boards to adopt to the standards of each ATS.

There are over 10,000 active job boards. By quickly adopting the below protocol, the job boards themselves stand to gain significant leverage, by moving together as a group.
Job boards that adopt the protocol, can start providing “source of hire” information to their clients with a nominal development expense.

Source of Hire Protocol:

(The protocol information provided below is intended for a technical audience who has an intermediate or above knowledge of website development tools.)

The “protocol” is made up of three query string values that can be passed to an employer’s website. If the company career site is compliant with the protocol, and therefore recognizes the query strings and the associated values, the employer will automatically and efficiently retain accurate “source of hire” data.

The protocol query string values:

A numeric value representing the job board where the job seeker found the job listing
The name associated with SourceID
A string representing an intermediate, or third party, such as GOJobs


Let’s say a recruiter wants a job seeker to visit their corporate website, to apply to a specific job.
The Apply Online URL the recruiter wants the candidate to link to is as follows:
When the job is posted on a job board, such as DICE, the recruiter adds the Apply Online URL above to the specific field on CareerBuilder.

Currently, when a job seeker finds a job on a job board, he or she, clicks on the “Apply Online” button, or link, and the jobseeker is redirected to specific URL on the company website.

In this example, both DICE and the employer loose valuable tracking data. DICE can no longer track the job seeker, and the employer has virtually no way to automatically track that this specific candidate came from DICE. As a result, both the job board and the employer lose.

If Applicant Tracking Companies (ATS), job boards, employer career center development teams, and other web design companies, utilize the above querystrings, everyone wins.
The employer receives accurate “Source of Hire” information. Job boards are recognized as the inbound source. Recruiters don’t have to maintain another “list of sources”.

Any job board, can utilize this query string protocol directly.
For instance, if DICE chooses to implement the protocol, instead of submitting the job seeker to the “Apply Online URL” provided by the recruiter, above, during job entry, DICE can Append the “Source of Hire” querystrings and the values related to DICE, to the clients Apply Online URL.
By appending the following string, DICE would automatically be recognized by the company website as the “Source of Hire”.

The complete URL would look like the following:”SourceID=1&SourceName=DICE&RoutedBy=DICE

The case for a centralized list of SourceNames and SourceIDS:
The are many reason for maintaining a centralized list of job board “SourceIDS” and “SourceName”s:

  • ATS companies, or web developers, can query a centralized, maintained list of job boards to receive updates to the “SoureIDS” and “SourceName”. By querying a centralized list, neither ATS vendors, or their employer clients need to maintain a “list of sources”.
  • Job boards can add themselves to the list at any time.
  • The list is publicly available.
  • A maintained, centralized list, will eliminate duplicate or outdated job board names and therefore SourceNames and SourceIDS.
  • There is no cost to retrieve the list of job board “SourceIDs” and “SourceName”.
  • As a job distribution service, and an Internet Recruitment Ad Agency, GO Jobs already maintains this information.

For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Duarte