Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Using Cost-Per-Application (CPA) Rates to Build Your Recruitment Advertising Budget

Brad Boggs AvatarBrad Boggs
August 10, 2023

We believe every student and recent grad deserves a great career, and hiring early career candidates should be simple and cost-effective. To that end, we want our customers informed of current advertising costs to create better recruitment marketing and hiring plans. Below you’ll find the market cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-apply (CPA) rates by job function, and an interactive calculator to guide you through creating an advertising budget based on key hiring inputs. 

First off, let’s review current CPC rates. According to Appcast’s 2023 Recruitment Benchmark Report, which highlights job advertising data from more than 1,200 US employers and 255 million job seeker clicks, the below represents the (highest) 75th percentile and (lowest) 25th percentile of CPC rates by job function.

To simplify the data, College Recruiter calculated the average costs by job function to show what you might expect to spend on a per-click basis to drive candidates to your job postings. The average click costs are shown in the middle portion of the bars.

Click and hover over the job function bars and the legend to interact.

For example, you’ll spend at least $.73 per click to drive candidate traffic to Healthcare roles. You might even spend $1.50 or more per click in some markets and for harder-to-fill roles. You’ll probably spend an average of $1.12 per click across all Healthcare roles, especially if your jobs are in several different markets.

That’s a good place to begin understanding the advertising costs for a job seeker to click your job postings from external sources like job boards and social media and land on your career site or applicant tracking system.

But what does it cost to drive completed applications? That’s what we highlight in the next graph – market CPA rates by job function. Again, we take the most and least expensive CPA rates according to Appcast and present the average in the middle bars.

Using the same Healthcare example, we see that employers are spending $45 on average for a completed application, and are likely spending $68 or more on applicants for more niche roles. Some companies may spend $400 for specialized nursing applications in highly-competitive locations, while others spend $15 per application in easier-to-fill roles and markets with an abundance of candidates.

It’s worth noting that the above rates don’t cover the cost to receive a qualified applicant, which is much more difficult to track and report back from the ATS. But we know the cost is often much higher when we consider many applicants provided by sources aren’t relevant or qualified for an employer’s job openings. 

With all these metrics in mind, how can you create a budget for recruitment marketing expenses? And how many hires can you expect?

We’ve built the below calculator to help answer these questions. Let’s start with your hiring goal.

  1. On average, how many hires do you expect annually? Enter that number in the first highlighted cell.
  2. Select the primary job function you are hiring for in the second cell. If you have multiple functions – like Healthcare and Engineering – you might consider running this a few times for a unique budget by job function.
  3. The average CPA is calculated for you based on the job function you selected.
  4. On average, do you hire something like 1 in 10 applicants, or is it more like 1 in 50 or 1 in 100? Make a selection from the dropdown and we’ll calculate your hire rate. Note: Recent Jobvite data across millions of applications this year shows the average application-to-hire ratio is approximately 3%, meaning 3 out of 100 applicants are hired. Is your average higher or lower?
  5. Based on those inputs, we’ll calculate your annual cost, break that down into a monthly budget, and show your Cost-Per-Hire (CPH).

It’s important to understand the budget necessary to drive enough applicants to produce the number of hires you need based on current advertising costs. And it’s just as important to partner with the best-quality sources to increase your applicant conversion rates by delivering higher-quality candidates to decrease your costs and reduce your time-to-hire.

Contact us if you need to drive qualified applicants to your job openings on either a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-application (CPA) basis to achieve your hiring goals. Our pay-for-performance model allows employers to only pay for the applicant results we deliver, which removes all risk of poorly converting candidate traffic. We’ll be happy to build a program for you that delivers higher-converting candidates at a lower cost than the market.

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