Job Advertising Definitions, Terms, and FAQ’s

Get up-to-date on the current job advertising terms, definitions & frequently asked questions.

Job Advertising Definitions & Terms

A person who is actively looking for new employment opportunities, sending out applications, and accepting interviews.

A person who has completed the first formal steps of expressing interest in an open job. This could be completing an online application, an in-person or kiosk application, or sending a resume to a recruiter or hiring manager.

The amount of time it takes a candidate to complete a job application, in minutes.

Software that recruiters, staffing firms, RPOs, and companies of all sizes use to manage the hiring process. While traditionally tailored to larger hiring organizations, ATSs now serve the entire market with industry and business specific functionality.

A term that characterizes the people who a source will interact with. For example, a job site may have only technology candidates, therefore it would have a technology audience.

A practice where a company measures its recruiting effectiveness and efficiency to understand if any changes made to the process are having a positive or negative impact.

A metric established, either through internal or external data, that helps a company understand how they are performing. Typical benchmarks include cost per application (CPA), apply rate (AR), and cost per hire (CPH).

The amount of money agreed to be paid, often in the form of a cost per click or cost per application, if a job seeker completes a predetermined action.

Job seeker and candidate are not interchangeable; rather, they are linearly connected, whereby a job seeker can become a candidate for a particular hiring organization once they have submitted their job application for an open role. Like job seekers, there are also various types of candidates (such as qualified and unqualified candidates) that your recruitment organization will have to sort through based on the predefined qualifications for each individual job.

Software that helps organizations build a candidate pipeline for future open jobs. With a CRM, recruiting teams often manage people who are not yet candidates. Many CRMs capture a name and an email of a job seeker and in some cases a resume as well. CRMs facilitate sending new jobs to qualified candidates whose information is in the database.

The percentage of job seekers who click on a job ad and then complete a full application to become candidates. A high click-to-apply rate paired with a high click rate suggests that you will get a lot of candidates for a job whereas a low click-to-apply rate could indicate a lengthy, complicated process, or one that is not mobile-friendly, not browser-compatible or potentially just too long in terms of time and number of questions asked.

The percentage, usually of time, that it takes between one action and completion of a second action. Conversion rates can be calculated across any number of things, such as the rate between a click and an application (click- to-apply rate) or the rate between an application and a hire.

A dedicated section of a company’s website that helps a job seeker understand the company culture and values, mission, employer brand, organization accomplishments, and – of course – it includes open employment opportunities.

A payment model in which companies pay each time a candidate completes a job application for a job ad. CPA is also a metric that helps a company understand what they must spend to acquire a single candidate.

A payment model in which companies pay each time a candidate clicks on the “apply” or “start apply” button on a job site to transfer to the application on the company’s career site.

A payment model in which a company pays each time a candidate clicks on their job ad on a job site.

A metric determined by the amount spent in order to acquire a qualified applicant (or candidate). The definition of qualified is up to the discretion of each hiring organization. Most companies select a step in the ATS workflow as the designation such as Recruiter Accepted, Submitted to Hiring Manager or Interviewed.

A metric determined by the amount spent in order to acquire a new employee. The definition of hire may be determined by the offer being accepted, the new employee reporting to work on the first day or even the employee still being employed on day 90. Whatever the definition, measure it equally to understand your costs and if they are changing.

A job ad posting model in which companies pay a predetermined and fixed price for a job ad, that is accessible on the job site for a fixed amount of time, typically 30 days, but can also be for shorter periods of time.

A newer type of employment, usually facilitated by an app on a mobile device, whereby a person who needs a job to be done can connect with a person willing to do that job —  typically, but not always, on demand. Examples include being driven from one place to another, having food or groceries delivered, performing tasks such as picking up dry cleaning, assembling furniture, or other things.

A job ad posting model in which companies purchase a set amount of spaces purchased from a job site, for a fixed price. A company can then move job ads in and out of the job ad slot at any rate, provided that the company does not post more jobs than the number of job slots they have purchased.

A job ad posting model in which companies pay each lead that responds to a job ad. Oftentimes, all that’s required for a lead registration is an email address, but the job seeker also may provide more information or may be interested in being more than a lead, such as by signing up for job ad alerts.

A method that makes your career site, job postings, and application process fit nicely onto a mobile phone screen and makes it as easy and reasonable for a candidate to apply for your jobs on the mobile device. Typically, this means removing cover letter and resume requirements, and limiting the number of questions and the time it takes to complete the application.

A person who is not actively looking to make a career change, but may be receptive to a job opportunity. Often passive job seekers are currently employed.

A job site where a company posting a job pays the job site for each action such as a click, an application or some other measurement.

Taken literally, how much return (in the form of whichever job ad type is chosen) results when money is invested in recruitment advertising.

Job Advertising Sources Definitions & Terms

An online network of job sites (large, small, and niche), consumer sites (news, industry and interest), and social networking sites where hiring organizations can automatically post jobs to many places simultaneously, track results, and make automated adjustments to what they are paying and where the jobs are posted. 

A method where companies keep in touch with their former employees to rehire them in the future or leverage their networks to find future employees.

An event, in person or virtually, that allows a company to meet with a number of potential job seekers all at once.

A form of advertising that uses an image as a primary tool to engage potential candidates. Often used to attract a large number of people for a higher volume job or for new location openings, when a company may need a lot of people all at once.

A method where companies leverage their current and former employees’ personal and professional networks to find new candidates for open jobs.

A method for grouping similar recruitment advertising vehicles such as job sites, social networks, display ad networks, email lists, and others.

Typically an email that contains a number of open jobs that may be of interest to a potential candidate. Job alerts are used to engage candidates and get them to return to a job site or career site.

A website that collects and aggregates job postings from the internet, typically from company career sites, often providing free candidate traffic to the hiring organizations.

A website where a hiring organization pays to post their open roles. This is often a sought-out destination for job seekers that are actively looking for employment.

Software that allows hiring organizations to easily post their jobs to multiple job boards.

A job board that specializes in posting jobs in a certain industry, job type or for a specific type of job seeker, such as recent college grads, white collar or blue collar workers, technology workers, underrepresented groups, restaurant workers or others.

A form of digital advertising that re-engages people on the internet who have interacted with your website or career site. Retargeting ads appear as advertisements with the goal of reminding people of their initial interest and encouraging them to revisit your website, product or job ad.

Advertising on search engines, such as Google or Bing, that allows your ad to show up when it 1) matches the terms entered in the search bar and 2) has the highest bid. SEM can be used to target job seekers, typically when a company is looking to hire a large number of people for a similar job.

Method that leverages the order in which a search engine displays its results. Generally speaking, individual companies have a difficult time getting their jobs on page 1 because job sites have more unique content (jobs that match the search) and those jobs are able to get higher placement on the results page.

Social networks offer a way to get your jobs to job seekers, rather than waiting for job seekers to go to a job site or your corporate career site. Many social networks have large and engaged audiences. They also often have job posting capability where job seekers can interact with job ads from within the social platform.

A recruiting communication method to 1) alert job seekers of potential jobs, 2) engage with job seekers after they apply to your job, 3) remind job seekers of interview dates, times, and locations, and 4) remind new employees of paperwork, first day information, and so forth.

Any places or methods that may attract and engage candidates. Typically, sources are very specific, such as an actual job site, social network or type of referral (internal, alumni or external). A company tracks by source to understand the efficacy of each of these places and methods.

A platform that collects minimal candidate information and is not subject to EEOC guidelines so that an employer, recruitment agency or hiring organization can utilize it for recruiting for a specific job at an undetermined later date.

Metrics to Track

A metric used to understand if the average cost to engage a candidate is going up or down. Cost per click is the amount paid out when a job seeker clicks on an advertisement to view it from the job listings page. Keeping track of this metric is essential to navigating the majority of job sites, as most offer a CPC consumption model. To calculate CPC or eCPC, divide the total amount of  money spent by the total number of paid clicks.

A metric used to understand the amount of money it costs to acquire an application (or candidate). This metric allows you to easily compare different job sites and advertising models from your various sources against one another by looking at a valuable outcome, candidates. To calculate CPA, divide the total amount spent by the total number of applicants.

A metric used to understand what it costs to hire a person. While cost per hire doesn’t capture all the factors of hiring for a role or account for a position long unfilled, it does provide a good barometer of what the company must spend in order to continue to hire people. To calculate CPH, divide the total amount spent by the number of hires made. As with CPA, you may want to consider CPH through different lenses, but you may also want to consider things such as the use of third party recruitment or staffing firms and associated costs.

A metric used to figure out how much money it takes to generate a qualified candidate. This metric is particularly helpful to understanding the balance among the market costs to engage candidates, your requirements, and your application process. If the CPQA goes up, it’s usually an indicator that one or more of these are preventing you from finding candidates you need. To calculate, divide the amount spent on candidate attraction by the number of qualified candidates.

A metric that helps you know how many candidates you have to put in front of a hiring team to get a hire. This metric helps you know if hiring managers provide accurate and realistic job requirements and if recruiters are responsive and keep top candidates engaged. To calculate, divide the number of people interviewed by the number of hires. It is often good to consider this metric through the lens of hiring managers, job families, and corporate division.

A metric that helps you understand the ease or difficulty of hiring. Longer time to fill typically correlates to a more expensive cost per hire, as the time and effort associated with filling the role extends.To calculate, add up the total number of days the open job is available and unfilled.

A metric that measures the responsiveness of your recruiting teams.  Data shows the longer it takes to connect with new candidates the less likely they will engage with you and ultimately get hired. To track, calculate the number of days, or better, number of hours between when an application is received and when your recruiter first reaches out.

A metric that measures the number of applicants, per each open requisition. Applicant volume is an indicator of how far-reaching and effective your job advertising is. To calculate, divide the number of hires you have made by the number of applicants.

A metric that helps you understand the percentage of qualified applications received from each of your sources. The ability to understand where qualified applicants are coming from is pivotal for managing and allocating job ad spend. But perhaps most pivotal is defining what “qualified” means and ensuring that it is applied across your recruiting practices. To calculate, divide the number of qualified applications from a particular source by the total number of applications.

Job Advertising FAQ’s

Q: What is programmatic ad buying for jobs?

Programmatic advertising utilizes data, rules, and a clear set of delivery targets (such as applications) to automate the distribution of jobs and tracking of applicants in a scalable and repeatable process. This, in turn, allows for optimization of advertising spend against measurable and impactful outcomes.

Q: What are pay for performance (PFP) job ads or performance recruitment media?

Pay for performance is a method by which job sites and other destinations can charge for engagement at some level with company provided content, typically job ads. By leveraging this model, hiring organizations can invest in and manage their recruitment advertising budgets in a way that aligns their interests with the job sites and results in candidate conversions on their job ads, such as clicks on these ads or completed applications.

Q: Why do conversion windows matter in job advertising?

The time between when a candidate first engages with your job and when they complete your application is referred to as a conversion window. Typically, this window is an agreed amount of time that allows for a source to take credit for being the originator of the candidate.

Once a candidate interacts with your job, the conversion window “opens” – which means if the candidate completes the application within that window the source that candidate originated from gets “source attribution.”

Conversion windows let programmatic systems choose the original source “winner” when a candidate starts an application, stops, and then reengages. Without a conversion window, corporate career sites would falsely get attributed as the source of the candidate.

Q: Why can a higher cost per click (CPC) bid lower an overall cost per applicant (CPA)?

Cost-per-click bidding is a method to get your jobs to show up on a job site’s results page. Bid too low and your jobs won’t show up or will only show up deep in the search results. Bid too high and they will show up on every results page, even ones that aren’t relevant. The key is to bid in such a way so that you match all the relevant searches and don’t show up on the irrelevant ones.

These factors are considered when a job site decides which job to show to a candidate.

1)    Location of the candidate’s search vs. location of the job

2)    Relevancy of the candidate’s search to the job title

3)   The remaining budget on that job/group of jobs

4)   The age of the job

5)    In some cases, the device (mobile, tablet or computer) that the candidate is using

6)    The price or bid per action (impression/click/apply click)

 There are three other factors to consider.

1)    Relevancy of the job site’s audience (does this job site have the candidates you’re looking for)

2)    Size of the job site’s audience (does the job site have enough of the candidates you’re looking for)

3)    How the job will get to the audience (email distribution, real-time search results, push notifications, SMS, etc.)

A combination of these factors can have an impact. A higher CPC on a highly relevant audience in real-time can generate applications at a lower eCPA (effective cost per applicant) because the job will more effectively match the candidate’s interests, resulting in a higher than expected conversion rate.

Learn more about CPA bidding in the blog post, ‘Job Ads: If You’re Doing it Right, Your CPC Bids Should Be Going Up.’

Job Advertising Technology FAQ’s

Q: What is extensible markup language (XML)?

XML is a method to quickly move your jobs from one system (like your ATS) to another system (like a job site). XML is the standard in the jobs space. 

Q: What is application programming interface (API)?

API is a method that allows two computer systems to pass information to each other. It provides a system of rules for computers to exchange data, and allows for real-time data exchange. While not as popular in the jobs space as XML, it is quickly gaining traction.

Q: What is site scraping?

A method whereby a computer visits a webpage and takes a copy of the information contained on that page, such as job ads. This is an option when more sophisticated methods, like XML or API, are not available. It can be problematic on occasion because of scrape failing due to changes to a site or other technical errors.

Q: What are tracking tags?

Tracking tags are code that sit on websites and typically allow another application to track certain site activities. For example, Google Analytics uses tracking tags to track the number of unique visitors on a website, how long they stay on the website, and what they click on.

Q: What do pixels do?

Pixels are a type of tracking tag, originally characterized as an image that tells another application when the page is rendered. Today, pixels also encompass tracking tags using Javascript and other languages that tell another application that the page has been rendered, as well as providing other limited information.

Q: What are the different types of pixels for job advertising?

JavaScript Pixels: These pixels allow for detailed tracking on pages and enable tracking of key information, such as job ID and candidate ID.

Image Pixels: The simplest form of tracking pixels, image pixels record events as tiny images are rendered on pages.


Looking to further expand your knowledge? Download the Appcast Guide to Recruitment and Programmatic Terminology.