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What is a reasonable cost-per-hire for college students and recent grads?

Posted September 22, 2020 by

One of the biggest changes that we’ve seen at College Recruiter over the years is how more and more of our talent acquisition customers are embracing metrics and truly being data driven, meaning that they’re now largely using metrics to drive their decisions, rather than using metrics to justify their decisions.

A key metric that many use to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of their college hiring programs is cost-per-hire. In short, how much does it cost them per average person to hire someone? There are a number of ways to calculate the cost-per-hire for students and recent graduates who are being recruited for part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level jobs. Most of them are wrong.

To properly calculate cost-per-hire for college students seeking part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level jobs (or any others) an employer must include ALL of their related costs, including staff time and travel expenses, and then divide by the number of hires attributed by the school, job board, or other source. The mistake that many (most?) employers make is to include only their variable costs like career fairs and job posting ads. But if your college relations department has a team of three with a combined salary (with benefits and taxes) of $250,000 and you hire 50 people per year, just your staffing costs adds $5,000 to your cost-per-hire. Spend another $100,000 on travel? That adds another $2,000 to your cost-per-hire. Spend $100,0000 on career fairs, job postings, swag, booth, etc.? Add another $2,000 for a total of $9,000.

The average cost-per-hire for on-campus recruiting is $6,110. I’m pretty biased as an owner of College Recruiter job search site, but what we hear from our employer customers is that they’re typically spending five to 10 percent of that when they advertise their jobs on-line, including with us.

When I first started to hear about that kind of huge cost-saving, I anticipated that the employers would then say that the quality of hire was much better on-campus, but I actually heard the opposite from the employers who were actually tracking productivity data. Why? Because the employees they hired on-campus tended to have far shorter tenures. They’d work for a year or two, quit, and go to another employer. The employees they hired on-line, including through College Recruiter, tended to stay for five or even 10 years. That made them far more productive than their on-campus brethren.

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