Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Need for Standardized & Comparative University Recruiting Data

The National Association of Colleges & Employers surveyed organizations about their spring 2015 hiring plans.  Respondents reported plans to hire an aggregate of 9.6 percent more students this year as compared to the previous year.  

The NACE (and even SHRM) data is predictive in nature.  It is what employers expect in the short term. The university data opens the door on the actual recruiting that is in progress or completed.  The student employment reporting provides the overall outcome.  (Diagram)

We can report numbers many ways.  But, they must be meaningful to users. The challenge is for universities to present their data in such a way that it can be easily bench marked to comparable universities.  The NACE survey data should be matched against employment outcomes, not recruiting data - although it could be informative in setting expectations and business development plans.  

At this point, no standard exists for bench marking data across universities. In fact, an opportunity exists in the reporting space for technology vendors who can facilitate data collection, analysis and reporting for recruiting and employment outcomes. Given the emphasis on "big data" in organizations across the U.S., this simply makes good business sense. 

Given the increased importance of return on investment (ROI) via the administration's scorecard, the reporting of data is becoming increasingly vital.  In April 2015, Sam Ratcliffe (Virginia Military Institute and NACE Board of Directors) penned an article for the NACE Journal entitled Building Relevancy and Influence: A Game Changer for Career Services. Although the content is for NACE members, his principle assertions are that university career offices need to be transparent and tell the university's story to outside parties.
Building relevance and influencing decisions requires powerful communication strategies that enable stakeholders to understand what we are doing, why we do it, the differences it makes for those we serve, and how it advances institutional needs and priorities.
Mr. Ratcliffe further makes the argument for granular data and year-to-year comparisons to tell the story of the educational institution.  I am under the impression that universities need a common language (data set) and time frame in which we can make comparisons across universities. 

Universities are making strides in standardizing their employment data through NACE and MBACSEA organizations.  Now, we need to look deeper into recruiting information. 

  • How many organizations recruit at a university and what type of talent (degrees, majors, skills...) are they seeking for their organization?  Did this change over time?
  • Where are the organizations located?  What is our footprint?
  • How does this compare to other universities?  
  • Are there trends that we can identify over time?  
Universities need tools to compare the quality of their student preparation to other universities in the wider marketplace.  After all, universities provide a product. "Buyers" need the tools (standardized data that tells a story) to compare a given product against others.  We have work to do in the metrics space.  As the cost of higher education rises, we will need to to speak to our value and justify our existence. 

Please leave me a comment below if you have any additional thoughts, suggestions, or even objections. My email can be found on the main page. 

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