Budgeting Basics for Campus Recruitment4 min read

October 19, 2018 Campus Recruiting

Campus recruiting can’t be a solo effort. To recruit top talent from leading schools, businesses need a well-thought-out university relations program to achieve their recruiting goals while staying on budget. Whether you’re starting from scratch or bolstering your existing efforts, here’s a look at how to budget a successful university relations program.


Recruiting students on campus can be a daunting task. That’s why organizations choose to assemble university relations programs, bringing together teams of campus recruiters and managers to successfully execute recruiting goals across campuses nationwide.

But between the costs of travel, lost productivity from being out of the office, and higher-ups who may not see the full value of robust campus recruiting efforts, it’s crucial to build a program with a clear purpose and a set budget to avoid hiccups down the line.

Our recent webinar, “College Recruiting 101: Budgeting Basics,” broke down the components  every successful university relations program budget should — and should not — include. Read on for key points from the webinar.  

Start with a strategy

Are you recruiting on campus to build a long-term talent pipeline, to get extra help with a special project or something else? Deciding you want to hire more college grads isn’t a strategy — you need to have specific reasons for these hires. Establish a long-term vision for your university relations program to ensure your campus recruiting efforts have specific goals in mind. In the long run, it’s okay to re-assess and adjust these goals when necessary, but operating with a plan in mind is critical to success.

Identify roles that can be sourced directly from campus

Take stock of the positions you’re hoping to fill through your university relations program. By understanding your organization’s specific hiring needs, you can determine a proper headcount for the number of candidates you hope to recruit and establish an actionable metric for yourself.

When identifying these positions, also keep in mind that undergrads aren’t the only candidates on campus. Between students pursuing non-MBA Master’s degrees, MBAs, PhDs, and former students connected to their alumni organization, there’s a wealth of talent on every campus within your reach.

Budget first, budget early

Planning for university relations programs should start at least six months before budgets are finalized. You might book an event in February that doesn’t take place until the summer, meaning those expenses won’t come up until sometime in July. If you’re starting to put together a program right now, make sure hiring managers understand that your program’s budget and potential headcount needs to be built into their FY19 budget planning. It’s challenging to hire five or six interns without anticipating their hiring costs in advance.

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Understand the true cost

Budgeting for campus recruitment isn’t only about direct expenses: it’s about soft expenses, too. When a member of your team is away from the office to attend a campus hiring event, there’s a cost associated with that. The same goes for including a senior member of your team rather than a junior member: is taking a high-level employee out of the office better than an employee who’s as familiar with your company’s day-to-day operations? It very well may be, but it’s wise to incorporate the price of lost productivity when determining the true and total cost of your university relations program.

Anticipate the unexpected

In an ideal world, your budget would account for and predict the cost of every single one of your recruitment expenditures. But we don’t live in an ideal world; we live in a world where flights are canceled, appointments get rescheduled and your booth runs out of supplies. Do your best to account for the things you can understand, like timing and business practices and leave yourself some budget wiggle room to take care of the things you weren’t expecting.

If not tchotchkes, what else?

It might seem fun to give candidates phone cases, stress balls and whatever swag-of-the-moment is available to make your recruitment brand more memorable, but do these giveaways actually go the extra mile in gaining more recruits? Instead of dedicating a portion of your budget to Happy Meal toys, find a more creative solution that keeps candidates engaged for the same cost.

For instance, invite candidates who stop by your campus recruitment booth to vote on a charitable cause to receive the amount of what you would have spent on swag. After your event, follow up and share the winning cause. It’s a win-win: not only will you have an opportunity to authentically engage with interested candidates, you’ll also demonstrate the the positive value of your employer brand.

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Gain greater insights into the campus recruitment budgeting process with Yello’s latest webinar, “College Recruiting 101: Budgeting Basics.”

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