Build a World Class Campus Ambassador Program


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Campus Ambassadors: Doing It Right

college students

Campus Ambassadors have become a HOT topic and a differentiator on the campus recruiting scene. Lots of companies have attempted campus ambassador programs; however, VERY few companies do it well.

In my past, I helped build campus ambassador programs across the world in 12 countries. The concepts I’m going to share are not ground breaking; however, few companies are doing them well.


Campus Ambassador programs take a lot of set up, the right representatives on campus, a process/technology to connect their referrals into your recruiting process, and a team of managers to drive results.

The investment into this program pays off IF you have a lot of hires to make and you want to attract the crème de la crème students. Additionally, you want to consistently execute this program year after year so you gain momentum.

If you are ready to make the investment, use these tips to build a program from the ground up. I promise it works. It has been tried and tested around the world!

Use These 8 Tips to Build a World Class Campus Ambassador Program:

1. Choose the Right Schools

Don’t over extend your budget and go too big too quickly. You may want to build a test pilot Campus Ambassador program on just a few schools and ensure you have a great process before you launch nationally.

Pull source data from your ATS (applicant tracking system) to understand where the majority of your campus hires came from in the past. Do trending to understand number of applicants per school, interviews, offers, and ultimately hires. Look back at the last 5 years to identify trends and identify your top schools. You should do at least 20 hires from a campus to justify the investment.

2. Identify your Target Market

Understanding the type of student you are looking for by considering their education and extra curricular activities. Break down the population of these students on your target schools to ensure you are spending your sourcing dollars on campuses where your students can be found.

3. Hire the Right CAs

The best Campus Ambassador (CA) programs hire the poster child of their target audience to represent them on campus. Remember that birds of a feather flock together so your campus ambassador likely knows lots of people just like them.

If possible, use past interns or co-op students to represent you on campus. If a student has worked at your company they understand your culture and will represent you in a more authentic fashion. They can speak from experience.

If you do not yet have a new grad-hiring program, you may need to start from scratch. Connecting with some groups on campus and targeting high profile students can help you direct recruit the right CAs.

Ensure you dangle a carrot that they are interested in to help motivate them to apply and to deliver results throughout the program.

4. Define KPIs & Program Parameters

The best Campus Ambassador programs have clear targets and defined hours.

Align the set hours & months of work based on your hiring time frame.

However, I think having a year round presence helps keep your company top of mind year round for students. It is important to ensure you have positions for your Campus Ambassadors to promote.

Pre-define the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that matter for your program. Think about marketing pieces (like social networking) and referrals. Check out what Hootsuite is doing here.

Setting KPIs helps drive results and helps your managers coach your campus ambassadors against tangible goals.

5. Train. Train. Train.

Training is so important and is the official kick start of the program though you’ve been doing behind the scenes research and planning for months. Bring all of your Campus Ambassadors into head office and run a national training. Train them on your company culture, KPIs and direct recruiting.

6. Integrate CA Referrals Into your Recruiting Process

The Best Campus Ambassador programs help to generate target candidates for your recruiting team that meet your hiring needs. If you don’t build Campus Ambassador referrals into your sourcing and recruiting funnel, you are not maximizing this investment.

If possible, have Campus Ambassadors submit their referrals into your ATS (applicant tracking system) so the referrals are emailed a link through which to complete their application. Train recruiters to look at these referrals first and integrate them into the CV screening and interview process for any new grad roles.

Referrals are only useful if they actually apply. Thus, ensuring your CAs know the status of their referrals and follow up with anyone who hasn’t applied allows them to close their referral: application ratio. Work with your system administrator to make this happen.

7. Mentor & Provide Feedback

Don’t train up your campus ambassadors and then let them loose without touching base regularly. Programs I worked on required CAs to submit weekly reporting so I knew how they were doing on their KPIs.

A weekly call with their manager helps check in on targets and allow you to talk through challenges.

Have your Campus Managers get out on campus as often as possible to work with the Campus Ambassadors. This helps your team get better and ensures that back at head office, you understand the trends on the campus.

8. Reward Results

The mistake that a lot of companies make is they set lose last summer’s interns or co-op students with branded gear onto campus and hope they market opportunities at their company.

Build a program where you pay your campus ambassadors a competitive hourly wage for their hours/week and then pay for results on top of that. Thus, build a meritocracy program where Campus Ambassadors get paid for the results that matter – typically this means a referral bonus when a referral gets hired.

Putting It All Together:

Ensure that you connect your Campus Ambassador program into your EVP and your existing recruiting programming.

Showcase your Campus Ambassador profiles on your website as key contacts for students. Check out KPMG best practice here.

Have Campus Ambassadors market recruiting events like information sessions, career fairs, or guest speakers. This creates a great synergy with all of your recruiting programming.

What are you taking away from my Campus Ambassador tips?

  • What’s worked for you in building campus programming?
  • Where has your programming fallen short in the past?
  • Chelsea Newton
    Chelsea is known as a dynamic and engaging talent consultant and professional speaker. As a Certified Executive Coach, she is extremely passionate about helping people realize both their goals and full potential. Chelsea has worked in 12 countries around the world helping Fortune 500 companies recruit, train, develop, and motivate top talent using cutting edge communication techniques and social media. She is currently developing top talent in the oil sands and speaking across Canada as the founder of Talent Formula.

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