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Using Applicant Reports to Help Your Company During an OFCCP Review

Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of this series, we noted that it’s a different world out there for companies going through OFCCP reviews. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) continues to closely examine the hiring of federal contractors and subcontractors to determine whether there is any discrimination based on race or gender. However, OFCCP is also heavily focused on issues concerning veterans and persons with disabilities. Much of the focus concerning veterans and persons with disabilities is centered on the outreach efforts that companies are making to find and hire members of these protected classes and the documentation available to demonstrate this outreach.

The continuing interest on the part of OFCCP in regard to disparities in hiring and the new emphasis on measuring outreach mean that applicant reports produced for OFCCP are one critical key to the success of a review. An effective applicant report should be able to demonstrate the following things:

  1. That all classes of applicants were properly considered for open positions.
  2. That there was sufficient outreach associated with open positions to draw minorities, females, veterans, and persons with disabilities into applicant pools.

We covered the ways in which companies can use applicant reports to determine whether all classes of applicants were properly considered in part 1 of this series. We now turn to the ways that applicant reports can be used to demonstrate outreach.

Determining Whether Sufficient Outreach Was Conducted

One of the most neglected fields in applicant tracking systems is the field used to gather information on referral sources. Candidates are typically asked to complete this field themselves (when the field is even available). Since referral source has little meaning to candidates, they often choose the first or simplest option when selecting a referral source. Recruiters and other persons reviewing applicant records typically do little to ensure that candidates have selected a meaningful referral source. Thus, most applicant reports suggest that candidates primarily found out about openings through sources like “the internet” or “newspaper advertisements” or “company website” or “other source.”

OFCCP clearly expects companies to make outreach efforts to find minorities, females, persons with disabilities, and veterans. OFCCP also expects that companies are documenting their outreach efforts and can demonstrate that specific outreach efforts were made for every opening. Further, OFCCP is expecting that outreach efforts produce results. As OFCCP head Patricia Shiu said in July of 2011, “Affirmative action can no longer be measured by good faith efforts.”

The easiest way to demonstrate that outreach efforts have been successful is to show that there are minorities, females, persons with disabilities, and veterans among the individuals who have been hired. However, there are times when companies will be unable to hire members of these groups. In this case, it is helpful to have an applicant report that demonstrates that there were specific candidates who found out about openings from recruitment sources that were aimed at targeted groups.

The first step in using an applicant report to demonstrate effective outreach is to ensure that there is an appropriate listing of referral sources for the candidate to choose. If the only referral sources a candidate can choose are “Internet Posting,” “Advertisement,” “Employee Referral,” “School,” and “Other,” an applicant report will be of no use in showing outreach has occurred. Candidates should have the option to choose specific referral sources that represent the organizations companies have contacted to provide candidates. Thus, a list of referral sources should include organizations such as “NAACP,” “Helmets to Hardhats,” “Local DVR Office,” and “Women in the Trades” if these were among the specific organizations contacted about open positions.

Helpful tip no. 1: Allow candidates to pick from a longer, more specific list of referral sources that were used to find candidates.

The next step in using an applicant report to demonstrate effective outreach is to avoid the use of generically named referral sources. Referral sources such as “Internet Posting” should be eliminated in favor of a list of specific sources such as “” or “”. Referral sources such as “Newspaper Advertisement” should be replaced by “Chicago Tribune” or “Sacramento Bee.” Certain referral sources such as “Company Website” may be useful so long as positions are actually posted on the company website and candidates routinely find positions by looking on the company website.

Helpful tip no. 2: Avoid using referral sources for candidates that are too generic and thus provide no meaningful information.

The converse point to the above is that companies can create lists of referral sources that are too long and unwieldy for candidates to use. A candidate who is asked to provide information on referral source is unlikely to scroll through a list of 50 sources to find the perfect fit. Typically, candidates will search through a limited set of referral sources before making a choice. If the first referral source in a list is “,” many candidates will choose this selection and ignore other options. Thus, placement of a referral source in a list becomes critical. In order to get information on whether targeted outreach sources are viable, companies may want to place specialized recruitment sources targeting minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and veterans at the top of the list of possible recruiting sources.

Helpful tip no. 3: Place specialized recruiting sources at a point in the list of recruiting sources where candidates may be able to see and use them effectively.

After creating a viable set of referral sources for candidates to use, companies must be able to run applicant reports that show information on the sources that have been able to provide candidates. It is helpful to be able to run a report that shows the total number of candidates who indicated they were referred by particular sources. It is especially helpful to be able to view the referral sources attached to each requisition. That way, companies can evaluate their specific recruitment strategies for particular positions and determine where to focus their recruitment efforts.

Helpful tip no. 4: Companies should be able to run applicant reports by requisition that display referral source for each candidate.

Finally, companies should review applicant and hire reports to determine which referral sources were able to produce the candidates who were hired. It can be useful to approach minorities, females, persons with disabilities, and veterans who are hired to see how they learned about an opening and to see whether the information they provided on referral source matches what appears in applicant reports. If certain referral sources have been especially helpful in finding minorities, females, persons with disabilities, and veterans, the company may want to ensure these sources are used more often and may want to ensure that these referral sources appear at the top of the list of referral sources that candidates can select.

Helpful tip no. 5: The company should work with new hires to determine which referral sources directed these new hires to the company.

What does all of this mean for your applicant reports? It means that an applicant report should help you analyze your company’s outreach efforts by providing you with the following information:

  1. It should show you the specific recruitment sources that referred candidates for each open position.
  2. It should allow you to determine the number of candidates who were found through any particular recruitment source.
  3. It should allow you to determine the specific sources that were able to refer candidates who were hired into your organization.

For more information on OFCCP’s affirmative action regulations and on approaches for creating effective applicant reports, please contact me at [email protected].



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