Goal Setting: How to Properly Set Targets for Recruitment Campaigns

Goal Setting: How to Properly Set Targets for Recruitment Campaigns

Any effective marketing campaign is built around targets, and the same goes for recruitment. Just as a captain sets sail on rough waters after carefully charting a path, a smart recruiter navigates a competitive talent landscape using goals as guideposts. Without goals, recruiters risk losing value, resources and, of course, applicant conversions.

Recruitment goals should always loop back into the high level goals of a company, but they also typically depend on more immediate contextual factors:

  • Urgency – How quickly does a position need to be filled?
  • Importance – How crucial is it to find the perfect candidate for the position?
  • Competition – How challenging is it to source applicants from the desired talent pool?

Keeping these factors in mind, recruiters can choose the types of goals they will set. Their chosen approach will help them chart the right course toward hiring conversions.

Cost-based, Volume-based and Blended Goal Setting

Recruiters should begin a hiring campaign by asking themselves how much they are willing to put into it, and what they are looking to get out of it.

The answers to these questions help determine what types of goals to set for any given campaign. If a hiring budget (input) is tight, for example, campaign goals will look wholly different than they would if the budget was unlimited. Similarly, targets will vary depending on whether a specific number of hires is required by a certain date or if the campaign is more flexible.  

Setting targets for cost (input)

Those managing a strict or specific budget will likely work best with a cost-based goal setting model. This involves setting the target maximum spend for your recruitment efforts.

Recruiters may find it helpful to take these common cost metrics into consideration:

Cost-per-Click (CPC) – The target spend on a click-level. While this is easy to measure, it’s more time-consuming and trickier to tie back in with overall conversion metrics (hires or applicants).

Cost-per-Applicant (CPA) – The target amount per applicant. CPA is a solid metric when it comes to sourcing channels, but it too must be compared to the total hire conversion rate.

Cost-per-Hire (CPH) The target amount per hire. This is both the clearest metric and most difficult to measure. It’s a key factor for determining the overall success of a campaign, but recruiters may have trouble tracking it with suppliers such as job boards and agencies.

eCPH: Smallest common denominator across different pricing models [own figure]
eCPH: Smallest common denominator across different pricing models [own figure]
It’s important to look at all cost factors carefully to avoid any missteps or false assumptions. In addition to tracking any of the above metrics, recruiters should incorporate best practices for cost evaluation. These include:

End-to-end tracking and multi-touch attribution – Data such as number of users at a given touch point, time spent by the user at that touch point and the drop-off rate at each stage of the application funnel can shape cost analysis for goal setting.

Optimization – This involves a/b testing, iterating and improving all stages of the applicant funnel to ensure successes are being maximized, and shortcomings are being eliminated.

eCPH and LTV metrics – CPH may not be enough to get the clearest cost evaluation of a campaign. Effective CPH, or eCPH, takes into account varying cost factors related to applicant sources or external costs. Lifetime Value (LTV) factors in the quality of a candidate beyond the hiring process and is highly customizable.

Setting targets for volume (output)

Volume-based goal setting puts the emphasis on total number of conversions, which implies that costs will vary.

Key metrics to track when targeting a specific number of conversions include:

Clicks – An easy to measure metric that doesn’t depict much about the total success of a campaign or the number of conversions.

Applicants – This is customizable depending on how a recruiter defines an “application event” within the funnel. Examples may include submitting contact information or a resume.

Hires – The total number of onboarded hires and crucial metric for recruiters to track.

Example of a recruitment funnel [own figure]
Example of a recruitment funnel [own figure]
Even when setting volume-based goals, recruiters should always keep the eCPH in mind and collect more sophisticated insights (market saturation; supply & demand economics; etc). This is especially important for businesses that have an unlimited hiring need (example: ride sharing companies such as Uber/Lyft which are trying to grow aggressively across multiple cities in a country). In such a scenario these businesses are obviously looking to generate the maximum amount of hires given the ‘local’ supply of available talent. Adding more hires beyond the point of maximum market saturation would incur a disproportionally high eCPH.

Hence, even with volume-based goals businesses still need to monitor additional data points (cost; availability; competition; etc.).

Setting blended targets

Cost and value goal setting do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, recruiters can utilize a mixed tracking strategy to optimize both values. With some planning and analysis of available data sources, they can effectively keep costs in check while maximizing possible levels of conversions.

Bottomline: The right goal setting strategy depends on the company and the specific hiring context.

Whether done through a cost-based, volume-based or a combined model, recruitment goal setting helps to illuminate and optimize the path toward quality hires. Companies can utilize available technology to track both costs and volume data in real-time, and using very few resources like programmatic recruitment platforms.

Recruiters can’t afford to miss out on opportunities related to sourcing and converting candidates any longer. Seizing these opportunities makes the difference between falling behind or plowing ahead of the hiring competition.


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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