Cookies 101: How to Track Job Seekers Across the Web and Convert More Applicants

Cookies 101: How to track job seekers across the web and convert more applicants

As candidates become increasingly selective in the roles they accept, recruitment marketers know they must adopt an agile approach to hiring processes – one that’s constantly being refined and optimized. Today’s competitive war for talent shows no signs of letting up, and this demands that companies adapt and innovate with their hiring strategies.

Deloitte reports that although 75 percent of companies recognize the importance of HR analytics, only 8 percent feel they are strong in this area. Companies within that small percentage are ahead of the hiring curve, positioning themselves in an advantageous spot in the challenging hiring landscape. But how are they doing it?

The answer lies in the smart use of data. By adopting a data-driven approach to recruitment, recruitment marketers make their existing resources work for them. They’re able to constantly improve every stage of the application funnel, from candidate sourcing to applicant activation (when an applicant needs a gentle reminder to complete their application).

One helpful type of data for recruitment is found in web browsing cookies.

Cookies: The browsing data goldmine

Quiet but mighty, cookies first emerged from Netscape employees in 1994. They’ve since grown into an important tool for marketing professionals to better understand and target customers.

Cookies store unique user IDs (UUIDs), or all information about a browsing visitor, on a server. This information can be accessed, analyzed and turned into actionable insights for marketers.

Several common use cases for cookies include behavioral targeting and ad personalization, re-targeting, visitor profile-building and web analytics.

Reaching the right candidates: The role of cookies in recruitment marketing

Recruitment marketers stand to gain specific benefits from cookies – especially in the areas of analytics and retargeting.

Making the link from cookie use in traditional marketing to their use in recruitment marketing is both simple and intuitive. Let’s refer back to the general uses for cookies outlined above, and apply them to recruitment:

  • Targeting and ad personalization: Tailoring a job ad based on a user’s previous browsing behavior, searches and preferences
  • Re-targeting: Strategically displaying job ads to users at a certain stage of the conversion funnel (e.g. after they’ve begun filling out an application, but haven’t finished it)
  • Profile-building: Amassing of first-party data to gain an overall view of a candidate, and using this information for audience modelling and future ad targeting
  • Web analytics: Tracking and understanding job seeker behavioral patterns on particular websites and as part of the broader application funnel

Two types of cookies exist in web browsing today: session and persistent. Session cookies work only in a server’s temporary memory and get deleted as soon as a browser window is closed. Persistent cookies, also known as tracking cookies, are the useful kind for recruitment marketers. They allow for the tracking of behavior within an application funnel.

Persistent cookies expire on a specific date or after a certain length of time. For as long as a persistent cookie is active, it transmits information about a user every time that user visits the website affiliated with the cookie. Affiliated websites include resources and advertisements displayed elsewhere – including job ads. In this way, recruitment marketers can use persistent cookies to gather information about a particular job seeker’s online behavior over time.

Consider this example of persistent cookies in action: A company purchases sponsored ad slots on a job board and wants to track overall performance and ROI. Cookies are added to a job seeker’s browser from the moment they visit a website containing one of those sponsored ad slots. At that point, the cookie begins to track the job seeker’s behavior through the application funnel. Data is delivered in a customized, real time format to the hiring company, who can then use it to better understand applicants and improve recruitment processes.

Bottomline: Cookies are a key resource for recruitment marketers looking to optimize their investment.

Much of what allows companies to gain a competitive advantage today lies in the strategic use of available data. Cookies are one source of this data, and a means for recruitment marketers to better identify, analyze and target their audiences.

While it’s possible to manually set up a data infrastructure using cookies, a reliable recruitment DSP slashes the setup time and removes the guesswork of tracking and analysis. Activating a data-driven DSP ensures that a company’s application funnels are constantly running at an optimal level, freeing up more time and resources for businesses to make informed, productive hiring decisions.


Perengo is a programmatic recruitment platform.

High-growth businesses and Fortune 1000 companies use Perengo DSP to solve their recruitment challenges at scale. The platform provides tools for recruitment automation and business intelligence.

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