employee referrals
Featured Recruiting

4 Steps to Tap Into the Benefits of Employee Referrals

Since May, unemployment has slowly decreased, but there are still more than twice the number of job seekers on the market than at the beginning of this year. That means there is a lot of talent to tap into, but it also means just about everyone knows someone who is out of work.

Now is an excellent time for recruiters to look at employee referrals for the best-fitting candidates. 

For starters, it will save you both time and money. According to a 2020 study from Clutch, 55% of companies say hiring based on an employee referral is less expensive than hiring a non-referral job candidate. Plus, nearly half of companies report that employee referrals shorten the recruitment process. 

Additionally, 49% of businesses reported that employee referrals typically stay at the company longer. This means you’ll save time for your recruitment team in the long-run.

Based on the data, it’s a no-brainer. Your recruitment strategy must tap into your employee referrals. Here are four tips to make the most of referrals right now:

Make it Easy for Employees

To maximize the talent you recruit from employee referrals, you need to set employees up for success. Start by establishing a straightforward employee referral program where you give your employees the tools they need to refer people from their networks:

  • List the top roles you need help filling
  • Provide advice for how to reach out to their networks
  • Create clear instructions for submitting referrals

If your company has dozens of jobs open at any given time, make sure your employees know which ones you need the most assistance filling. Then, they know what to prioritize when recommending the people in their networks. 

Make it easier on employees, and they’ll be more likely to follow through on your request for leads on top talent. You can do this by writing up a sample message they can send out to invite their friends to apply. This template should include a brief description of the role, why they thought of that person and a few sentences about why they love working at the company.

In addition, make sure employees know exactly how to submit their recommendations. Some options for collecting this data might be a form you create and provide a link to, a special email address that they forward resumes to, or a section on the candidate’s application to mention the person who referred them.

All of this information should be easily accessible to employees through your internal communication platform or website. It should be so easy to find that it becomes part of your employees’ routines to submit new referrals.

Offer Incentives

Many employee referral programs offer cash rewards to employees whose referrals get hired, but this isn’t the only way to provide an incentive. There are many other rewards you can offer to make referrals worth employees’ time.

For example, the company might offer extra benefits to these folks, such as a bonus vacation day. They could also reward referrers with gift cards or tickets to a virtual conference.

Rather than awarding a prize for every hired referral, another option your company might take is to have all hires qualify employees for a drawing for a larger quarterly prize. For example, employees could be entered to win a weekend getaway or trip. Another enticing option is awarding a hefty gift card to help defray employees’ out-of-pocket expenses, such as for groceries or gas. It might even be an Amazon gift card that is refilled monthly for six months or a year.

Whatever your business offers, clearly state the qualifications and rewards on the same homepage where you shared the how-to information. You can also use it in employee communications to market your referral program internally.

Customize Your Recruiting

Once you set up all employees for success, it’s time to reap the rewards of their work. While it’s always a good idea to be personable in your recruitment process, it’s especially critical with referred candidates. Recruiters should have a specific, tailored approach.

To start, create a custom email template that’s specifically used when reaching out to referrals. Make their experience more personal by including the name of the employee who referred them and a reference to why that employee thought they’d be a great fit. 

Then, decide if your referrals still need to go through the recruiter screening like other candidates or if they should skip right to the hiring manager. The latter option will make employees feel trusted and speed up the process with your referred candidates.

Additionally, when the candidates are ready to interview, you can invite the employee who referred them to join for a quick 5-10 minute warm-up call before they meet with the hiring team. This is another way to make it more personal and make them feel comfortable.

Share Feedback with Employees

To keep employees engaged so they keep providing more referrals, it’s also important to share your successes with them. 

For example, report to your teams the percentage of successful hires who came from referrals. If they can see they’re making a difference, employees will continue to send qualified candidates your way.

On the flip side, if the referrals you’re receiving are not successful, give your employees some specific feedback on identifying better candidates who will fit in your company. 


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