How to Use an Employee Referral Program for Recruiting

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Would you like to tap into the power of an employee referral program? A referral program that emphasizes potential employee referrals from current employees is a method employers use to find superior employees. This definition includes potential employee referrals from social media and social networking, too.

Employees are keen to refer their friends and associates to their current employer if they are happy with their current employer. They want to work with people whom they like and respect. They also want to work with associates whom they believe and trust will get the job done. And they want their company to succeed. So referrals of great people by current employees contribute to their company's success and their own job security.

Sharing a Positive Work Experience

Additionally, if your employees love their work and respect your company as a workplace, they will want to share that positive experience with the people they care about the most. Why not share a good thing with friends and family members? Employees want the respect and admiration of the people that they know. They will earn more of it by thinking of them and including them in an excellent organization.

Few employees are willing to put their own name and stamp of approval on an individual if they aren't convinced the referred person will do a great job. Current employees also have a solid picture of the organization's culture. They know which friends will fit in with your current crowd of employees.

You can ask employees for referrals for specific jobs or, generally, to develop a pool of special, talented candidates before you need to hire a person for a specific position.

Social Media Contacts

In this world of online social media and social networking, an employee referral program has even broader potential to locate qualified candidates. Each person you employ probably has wide-ranging friendships on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Your employee referral program allows you to tap into these valued contacts with everything from personal outreach to posted job ads.

When an employee posts an open job on LinkedIn, their associates see the ad and inquire about more details from the employee. These are a legitimate source of employee referral candidates, too. Any interaction that the employee does to bring the referral to your door is eligible to count as an employee referral.

Special Treatment for Referrals

The most important factor in expecting employee referrals to continue is that you provide speedy feedback to the referring employee. Too often in organizations, employee referrals are sorted into the current pile of resumes and treated the same as resumes that came in across the transom. This is a big no-no.

You need to treat employee referrals differently. They deserve special treatment, and the referring employee deserves feedback about what you have decided about hiring the referred candidate. They are expecting feedback so that they can update the individual they referred and because they have invested their personal recommendation.

Let the employee who made a referral know if you don't currently have a suitable job opening for the referred candidate; inform them that you have placed that person in your pool of candidates for future openings. Providing that information will recognize the employee's extra effort and will provide a message they can pass on to their referral.

Rewards and Recognition

An employee referral program solicits the referral of qualified job candidates from current employees who know your workplace culture and understand your job requirements. With or without a referral bonus or incentive, a referral program is in your best interests for recruiting superior staff.

Successful employee referral programs range from programs that substantially reward employees for critical position referrals to referral programs that provide no incentives at all for an employee referral. Referral bonuses range from a token of appreciation to a $10,000 check for the right employee referral.

Other companies rely on building a company culture that encourages employee referrals so that employees get to work with great teammates. Recognition and appreciation are demonstrated to employees who send their organization qualified employee referrals.

These programs gain widespread support because the employer has effectively built in enough employee recognition to make the referrals worth an employee's energy and time.

Why Employee Referral Programs Fail

Despite their great potential, many employee referral programs fail to attain their program goals: superior employee referrals. They fail for many reasons that include:

  • Failure to provide a reasonable incentive reward and appropriate recognition
  • Failure to keep referring employees informed and up-to-date on the status of their referral
  • Failure to publicize the referral requests to employees who can help recruit
  • And the biggest fail of all? Failing to provide a culture and a workplace into which employees want to make referrals

There are several things you can do to make an employee referral program successful, including encouraging all employees to make referrals regardless of the position they hold and providing training to employees in improving their networking skills.