The ROI of Candidate Mapping: What the Numbers Say


As a recruiter do you ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels, chasing after every candidate like it’s a numbers game? I’ve been there. Early in my career, I was all about flooding my clients with resumes – or at least attempting to. Then one of them hit me with some wisdom: “Murray, I don’t need a sea of resumes. I only need one: the right one.” That’s when the light bulb went off: quality beats quantity. And nothing delivers quality like referrals. Don’t just take my word for it; Harvard Business Review backs this up with a hard stat:

For every 100 applicants, referrals generated 70% more good hires than non-referrals.

The ROI Revelation

As the owner of an RPO business I used to obsess over ROI. For our largest accounts, every quarter we’d break down the costs of each sourcing channel. Referrals were the golden ticket, making up over 40% of hires. The ROI to the client was just insane when compared to direct sourcing (where they paid us fees) or to external agency hires (where they paid full market rates). Referrals were a no brainer for the client. Forbes dives deep into why referrals are your best bet.

Even for us as the RPO provider, referrals were easier to deliver than direct sourced candidates and while the fees paid to us were low, the sheer volume made them attractive. If only we could generate more, but we lacked the tools and processes.

Candidate Mapping: Your Secret Weapon

This is where candidate mapping comes in. It’s like having a treasure map, but instead of ‘X marks the spot,’ it’s ‘Referrals mark the hire.’ With a complete candidate map these candidates come pre-vetted, saving you time and money as every search starts with a warm, ready-to-go short list. The faster you can fill a role with the right person, the more cost-effective your process becomes. 

Maximum Efficiency

Looking beyond referrals, let me share a story that illustrates the power of recommendations that come out of candidate mapping.

Several candidates had been recommended to me during my time working in-house, but at that time we were unable to bring them in. When an important client was introduced by my old boss, I found two of these high performers on LinkedIn and reached out. Wouldn’t you know it? Timing was right and my client was a strong fit to their goals.

Both candidates got hired and went on to become the companies top sales reps – one was quickly promoted to sales director. This is the power of focusing on “recommended” high performers. If it were not for candidate mapping and collaboration, I would never have identified these particular individuals.

Tenure: The Longevity Factor

Here’s the kicker: referral candidates stick around longer. Job board candidates? They’re like butterflies, flitting from one job to the next as recruiters never let up on them, sending job after job. Referral candidates have a sense of loyalty that keeps them grounded. They don’t come with the entire agency market at their heels, and as high performers they tend to be very committed once they move. They are more likely to grit it out than to quit. 

Candidate mapping is like having a treasure map, but instead of ‘X marks the spot,’ it’s ‘Referrals mark the hire.’

LinkedIn: A Great Tool, But There’s More

LinkedIn is a beast; it’s the world’s largest professional network. But it’s not the end-all-be-all for referrals. This is why we built Referable. It takes LinkedIn’s “You May Also Know” feature and makes collaboration easy so that recruiters and hiring managers have actionable insights. It’s like having a supercharged LinkedIn, enabling a laser-focus on the high quality candidates that get hired.

High Performers

If a recruiter is able to focus their attention on high performing candidates and avoid the rest of the pack, they not only impress everyone downstream in the hiring process but they save massive amounts of time. Instead of chasing 100 candidates, doesn’t it make sense to only chase the 10 that count? I would take 10 “probables” over 100 “possibles” any day of the week.

The Missed Opportunity

LinkedIn should be used to exhaust all internal channels before an in-house recruiter looks for agency help. On our largest RPO clients we found that about 25% of placements made by external agencies had public LinkedIn profiles and had worked with an existing employee. That’s a lot of missed opportunities and wasted money.

To make some simple estimates, with 100 hires in the year made through agencies that means that 25 could have been sourced directly if we had been able. Perhaps half of those candidates may have preferred to go via their agent representative, but the other half either through a former colleague in the company or the talent acquisition team. With an average salary of US$100K and average fees of 30%, that could result in $30,000 x 12.5 = US$375,000 cost savings.

If we had it at the time, Referable’s candidate mapping and collaboration features could’ve been the game-changer, confirming relationships and suitability before these prospects became applicants. Factoring in the annual Referable subscription cost for this size of company, conservatively that is more than a 5X return on investment.

By the way, if you’re new to the ROI game, SHRM has a killer guide to get you started.


So there you have it. ROI isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the metric that can elevate your recruiting game. And candidate mapping? It’s not just a trendy term; it’s the strategy that can supercharge your hiring process. By leveraging both LinkedIn and Referable, you’re setting yourself up for a win. So go ahead, make your life easier and your ROI sweeter with quality mapping and referrals. There is no excuse for leaving candidates behind!

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