Metrics for Assessing College-hire Effectiveness and ROI

It would be pretty hard to throw a stone in most HR organizations without hitting someone who manages an antiquated process. Despite significant changes in how people live, work, and play, many HR practices continue on as if they were operating in 1960. For years employment advertising specialists relied on channels with shrinking audiences, simply because that’s how it was always done. Now, as more and more newspapers fail, the award for most antiquated recruiting practice looks like it will pass to college recruiting. Like employment advertising, college recruiting is an activity bound by tradition. While numerous studies demonstrate that an increasing percentage of students no longer engage on campus career-related services/events, such channels remain the focus of most corporate practices.

Like all practices that augment the capability and capacity of the organization, college recruiting needs to run more scientifically, with decisions based on data and research. If you are looking for metrics to assess the effectiveness of your college recruiting practices, consider a few of the following:

A+ Level Business Impact Metrics

The most important metrics are those that demonstrate that new college hires positively impact the business. Possible metrics include:

  1. Observed Job Performance: In roles where it is possible to capture real data on job output, consider comparing performance of recent college hires to existing employees in the same role or to college hires from previous time periods. Selecting a market basket of such roles across the organization to evaluate should serve as a decent indicator of overall practice effectiveness.
  2. College Hire Retention: Getting great college hires is one thing; keeping them long enough to produce a positive return on investment is another! Calculate your retention rates at six-month intervals for three years.
  3. College Hire Diversity: You don’t need to prove that increased rates of diversity in the workforce positively impact business results; numerous studies have already done that for you. Instead, measure and report how well your practices are doing at increasing the rate of diversity hires you produce. Compare actual rates to either pre-established targets or rates from previous time periods.
  4. % to Plan: How successful are you at recruiting the right number of college hires by the target time desired?
  5. Termination Rate: Percentage of college hires that must be terminated during the first two years of employment.
  6. Training Failure Rate: Percentage of college hires that fail during initial training.
  7. Total College Hire Compensation Recruited: The total compensation including all one-time bonus payments for college hires generated during a specific time period.

Supplemental Ways to Measure New Hire Performance

In addition to measuring on-the-job performance, there are some other measures that indicate program performance. They include:

  1. Bonus Compensation Rate: If your organization uses a variable reward structure, look at the average bonus compensation rate of recent college hires compared to hires in previous periods, adjusting for changes in the size of the bonus pool.
  2. Promotion Rate: Great hires advance rapidly, be they college or experienced hires. Look at the rate of college hires promoted at six-month intervals for the first two years of tenure.
  3. Training Scores: If your organization requires new hires to attend a battery of training events, considering aggregating individual scores from training assessments into a single new hire training score. Compare this score to past college hires.
  4. % of College Hires in Top 50% Ranking: While some in HR consider forced rankings harsh, a true measure of whether or not your college programs are producing great hires is the percentage of college hires managers place in the top 50% when forced to rank their downstream organizations.
  5. 360° scores: Average 360 scores of new college hires after one year.

Process Efficiency Metrics

The following metrics measure whether your college hire program is efficient and effective:

  1. Stakeholder Satisfaction: Manager, applicant, and new-hire satisfaction with the process.
  2. Employer Brand Ranking: Firm ranking scores from the Universum brand survey.
  3. Applicant Quality: Percentage of applicants that exceeded the minimum qualifications. Alternatively, average GPA, or SAT of new hires (within grad and undergrad categories) or average final interview scores assigned to new hires by hiring managers for firms that use a numerical rating system.
  4. Intern Conversion Rate: The conversion rate of top-performing interns to permanent hires.
  5. Offer Acceptance Rates: Percentage of offers accepted (note: without looking at the quality of the candidates who received offers, the statistic can be misleading. You can get a very high offer acceptance rate because you’re making offers to low-quality candidates who no one else wants. Instead, look at the offer acceptance rate of highly desirable candidates who have offers from other firms, in order to see how competitive you are).
  6. Head-to-Head Hire Rate: Percentage of hires that accepted an offer over offers from key talent competitors.
  7. Cost per Hire: The cost per college hire (compared to last year and the cost of an experienced hire). Be careful, because a cheap hire may or may not be a quality hire).
  8. Top Schools Percentage: The percentage of hires from “top-10″ targeted schools.
  9. Local Schools Percentage: The percentage of hires from “local” schools (local hires frequently have higher retention rates and lower salary costs).

Internal Program Effectiveness Metrics

After you assess you program using a sampling of the metrics listed above, you should also look at program metrics which have an internal focus and generally are not reported outside of HR. Those program metrics include:

  1. Goals Met: The percentage of program goals that were actually met.
  2. ROI: ROI (benefits minus costs) of the program.
  3. List Rankings: What percentage of recognition type ranking applied for were received. Include local, state, and national rankings like BusinessWeek’s Best Place to Start a Career ranking.
  4. College Career Site Effectiveness: Monitor statistics related to raw hits, hits to event specific landing pages, duration of stay, and conversion (completion of application, registration for newsletter, etc.).
  5. Number of Attendees: Percentage of targeted attendees at info sessions, career fairs, and interviews (note: it measures volume but not the quality of the attendees).
  6. Critical Incident Count/Cost: Number and cost of EEOC/legal issues resulting from college hiring practices challenged.
  7. Online Comment Ratio: The amount of both positive and negative information about the firm that can be found by applicants online.
  8. Number of Applicants: The overall number of formal applications received each year (note: volume doesn’t indicate quality).

Final Thoughts

The time has come for college recruiting programs to raise the bar and to demonstrate their effectiveness and impact in the same ways that normal recruiting programs do. In tight economic times when college hire budgets are being reduced dramatically, now is an ideal time to demonstrate just how effective college hiring can be.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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