Improving (or Building) Your Employee Referral Program

By Adam Robinson,
December 26, 2012

We haven’t spent much time discussing employee referrals, but it’s about time we do. Seeking candidates outside the sphere of your company’s world is an effective way to find great talent, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the employee referral program your company has set in place (that is, if they do actually have one). In 2011, employee referrals were ranked the number one source of successful new hires. Yep, you read that right – hires stemming from employee referrals outranked both job boards and career sites. 

Now before you walk away assuming that you won’t have to rely on any job boards for hiring in 2013, think again. But pairing a well-oiled employee referral program with traditional recruiting practices will lead to great sucess. 

So, what goes into having a well-oiled employee referral program? 

1. Make it simple

Don’t make your employees jump through hoops in order to share open job information with people. Having too many steps in the process is a huge turnoff for employees because it’s time-consuming and a downright pain. 

Put your referral program documents in the cloud so employees have access to everything they need without having to track you (or the HR team) down. This way, when someone pops into their mind that they believe would be a great fit for any given position, they can get the process rolling right away. 

2. Use social media

Using social media sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter to share job opening information makes it easier for both your current employee and potential new employees. This way, if an employee sees an opening that would be great for someone they know, they can share the link right on their social media page. It’s simple and free – what could be better than that?

3. Provide an outstanding candidate experience 

Any time someone submits an application, they should be recieving a confirmation email outlining the steps in the hiring process. If you’re not already doing that, it is imperative that you start…especially when you are dealing with candidates who have been referred by your employees. Email them back in a timely manner and be sure to return their phone calls. If you treat a candidate poorly, they will without a doubt tell the employee who referred them. If this turns into a pattern, you can count on never getting a referral from that employee again. 

4. Incentives!

Get your employees excited and motivated quickly by offering a good incentive(s) for making great referrals. It can be as simple as a cash-bonus or something work-related such as a better parking spot or free lunch for a week. Offering a reward is a great way to encourage employees to refer candidates they know would strive at your company. 

There’s no doubt that employee referral programs are beneficial when implemented properly. If you want to fill a position with the best of the best talent, and traditional recruiting methods don’t seem to be helping, employee referral programs are a great alternative.

Don’t let a lacking company culture drive away your employees. Learn how to turn turnover into retention! 


About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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