Recruiters and hiring managers receive innumerable resumes each year, spending an average of only a few seconds reviewing each one, and may spend thousands of hours on the phone working to source viable candidates. This is an especially onerous task in high-demand careers where the potential employee pool may be slim. By sourcing from the inside out through employee referral programs, however, recruiters and hiring managers can rely on the networks developed by current employees. Employee referrals are filling more jobs than ever, with up to 72% of hiring managers now looking to internal sources first.. Before incentivizing employees to refer trusted contacts, however, learn how to best leverage your internal referral network to produce consistently great results.
Employee engagement is more than just an HR industry buzzword — it’s a key component of hiring and retaining great employees. For your employees make qualified referrals or recommendations for open positions, they must want to remain a member of your organization. After all, if they are dissatisfied, why would they recommend you as an employer to anyone else?
Employee engagement begins from the top down — buying into the overall mission of an organization depends on great goals, inspiring leadership, and employee empowerment. The Society for Human Resource Management defines several paradigms that drive employee engagement:
- Clear-cut direction, modeled by leadership
- Unified focus on customers
- Performance-related compensation, benefits, advancement, and rewards
- Open communication at all levels
When you model engagement from the inside out, more employees are willing to put their personal reputation on the line and recommend candidates for open roles.
Quality Before Quantity
Do you want current employees to suggest everyone they know for particular job openings, or just those people in their network who are the best fit? Obviously, the latter is of much greater benefit both to your organization and individual careers. To ensure that employee referrals are of the highest quality, the way you describe and showcase an open role must take center stage.
This means every single job description and list of desired candidate aptitudes must be developed individually and not regurgitated from a sample or nonspecific source. The more tightly you define what you (a) want from a candidate, (b) expect a candidate to do within a role, and (c) give back to the candidate as an employee through compensation, benefits, and career progression, the better your candidate pool will be. Without those three specific areas receiving due attention, your candidates may not be the right match for the job or may become disengaged shortly after joining your organization.
Clear-cut and tightly written career collateral lets your current employees really understand a role’s needs and recommend the best possible matches from their own networks. The Small Business Administration provides a great guide on the best ways to write job descriptions to net great candidates.
Now that you’ve made your workplace desirable to current and future employees, and your career literature is aimed at filling a highly qualified candidate pool, you’re ready to fully incentivize your employees to make terrific referrals. In a recent article, LinkedIn shares how it ramped up its own employee referral program, and following those same steps may benefit your organization as well.
- Help employees understand what you need from candidates — something you can accomplish by tightly describing open positions
- Brand your referral program so that it stands out to employees. Ensure referral program awareness and create program participation excitement
- Specifically target internal employees with marketing designed to elicit referrals.
- Ensure recruiters and hiring managers are easily linked to employees during the referral process
- Give public recognition when an internal referral leads to a great external hire. This recognition ensures more great referrals in the future and gives gratifying praise to those making referrals. That gratification can be as meaningful as any financial incentive you offer for employee referrals
When you optimize your workplace, use targeted career collateral, and design and deploy a program that is engaging, your employee referral pool can lead to terrific hires. Candidates can see the quality of your organization through the recommendations of their referrers, and they will be building careers in-house before you know it.