The Right Metrics – Where to Start and What’s in it for YOU?

You may think metrics are boring. They are! But metrics can help you “tweak” your UR program, and make your leaders take notice and say, “Good Job”.

The answer to the question, “What are the right metrics for me?” may sound like a typical refrain: metrics need to be customized.  That’s because they do! Let’s take a step back before we dive headlong into traditional metrics that measure steps to the hiring funnel, look at college hiring as a whole, and ask what we need to do and why.

Why metrics?  We need to manage university relations with metrics just like a business, because it is common for most other business functions to use metrics for strategic planning and improvement initiatives.  University relations can be thought of as a program: a series of business processes comprised of inputs and desired outcomes with a specific vision and mission that are tied to the company’s business goals, strategies, and values.  Metrics will help you rationalize your university relations program and build a business case for changes to your UR processes, which may mean adding more resources.  And who doesn’t want their UR program to be recognized as strategically aligned with the organization’s needs, well staffed with people throughout the company involved in the UR process, and adequately supported financially?  

What are you trying to accomplish?  We can start at a 50,000 foot view of college recruiting with more questions to be answered:

  • Why do you need a college recruiting program in the first place?  The purpose of your program could simply be to backfill for attrition (butts in seats) or for company growth.  You could also be trying to develop your own talent pipeline, rejuvenate your organization with fresh ideas and perspectives, or build your workforce of the future.
  • What is the strategic impact of college hiring?  Ideally, the answer begins with strong workforce planning processes.  Workforce planning identifies the gaps for strategic roles that can be filled with new college graduates.  This establishes a long-term plan for how the UR program will help sustain and grow the organization. It may also supply some high-level goals for college hires that are tied to the overall strategic talent acquisition plan, such as a targeted mix of college vs. experienced hires.
  • What else do you want/need to know?  It could be answers to questions your leaders are asking.  Of course, you’ll need to consider how you will measure success, where you will focus your recruitment efforts, how you evaluate individual campus performance, and refine the list of current schools selected for recruiting.  

What are you trying to measure?  The bottom line is that metrics need to measure effectiveness (how well did you do) and efficiency (how well you did with what you had).  

Think of this sports analogy to understand how to measure effectiveness:  

You need to keep track of the score of the game while you are still playing it and then recap the game after it is over.  Knowing “the score” of your hiring status during recruitment allows you to make adjustments as necessary. A post-game recap “box score” might be used at the end of the recruitment season (your year-end report) to show important statistics and provide analysis of how well you performed.

Efficiency metrics may include things like cost-per-hire or quality-of-hire measures such as retention, new-hire performance, and satisfaction surveys.  These metrics tend to accompany process improvement initiatives and typically occur between recruitment years.

Note:  Data for data’s sake is like jogging in place – you may get exercise, but you don’t get anywhere.  Metrics should be used to drive actions. Metrics should also be used in an internal or external comparison.  Internally, you might use a trend analysis to measure your performance against yourself over time. Externally, you measure your own performance against other companies through established standards or benchmarking studies.  For those who say, “I don’t have time to call other businesses to compare UR metrics”, please note that Campus Strategic Partners performs cost-effective benchmarking studies for many companies in a large variety of industries. We answer complex or simple questions that help frame direction in various aspects of the UR program – all to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of your program.

What other metrics are helpful to measure?

The time difference for an experienced professional hire accepting an offer and starting to work is relatively short.  However, in the college recruitment world, you may be starting your hiring process in the fall for students who may not actually report to work until the following summer after they graduate.  The lag time between “accept date” and “start date” dictates that we should look at actual “accepts” as a measure of progress towards our hiring goal. With the college graduate lag time to job start, it is critical to keep the prospective new hire engaged with the company.  Measuring accepts vs. hiring starts can also be a testament to the quality of your UR efforts or a signal of an area for improvement.

Standardization.  In order for your metrics to be valuable for internal comparison across business units, you must be measuring the same thing, the same way, all the time.

  • What is the definition of a “recent college graduate”?  Okay, so that’s a silly question.  Hopefully, we’re recruiting students before they get their degree and start soon afterwards.  However, what about students who take a break or another job before they come to their senses and go to work for you?  How long after graduation is a candidate considered to be “recent”? If they gain practical experience in their degree field before joining your company, does that factor into your definition?  How you answer these questions is less relevant than the act of defining your standard and sticking with it.
  • What is your college recruitment year? – The academic cycle does not align with annual or most fiscal calendars and therefore requires some standardization for what constitutes a “hire”.  I have seen client hiring managers who wanted to flip-flop back and forth between the academic calendar and the annual calendar as it suited them for meeting their hiring goals.   It is important to establish a standard and communicate it.

A final thought on “why?”.  You may have heard the old adage “what gets measured gets done“, but I prefer John H. Jones’s addendum – “…what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated“.  Yes, this is true. Use metrics to drive your program’s performance, feedback the results to your leaders, continuously improve your program, and gain recognition and reward for those who participated.

There are lots of moving parts in UR, so It is important to communicate your results to everyone involved in the college recruiting process (especially those who lent a hand, like Senior Execs).  With the Right Metrics, you will continue to build your UR program to be an effective performer for your company.  The Right Metrics can provide concrete proof of your UR program’s great value and that of your leadership.

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