The Importance of Referrals (And How to Do Them)


As professional recruiters, we sometimes get called in by businesses to consult on their marketing and hiring practices. Getting the big-picture perspective allows us to spot gaps or inefficiencies that could be lurking in a company’s plan, one of which is neglecting to hire through referrals.


Not all hiring can be done through referrals. Bigger applicant pools are usually necessary for the bulk of hiring, especially for positions requiring highly specific skills or experience. But referrals prove to be some of the best low-cost, long-term hires; to not utilize them at all is missed opportunity.


Why is hiring by referral useful?


Hiring by referrals can speed up a company’s hiring process, simplify onboarding, and increase the likelihood of hired candidates being a match with a company’s culture.


A referred candidate can often bypass some of the more time-consuming aspects of hiring, jumping right into interviews. Having a current employee who is able to vouch for a candidate’s qualifications and work ethic decreases the need for extensive screening.


Once a candidate is hired, onboarding is a much smoother process.  New candidates have an immediate connection to the company; they are not left to wade through the initial phase of perceived isolation and awkwardness. Having a contact in the business makes asking questions and building relationships easier.


Current employees are familiar with company culture and know which of their personal and business contacts are likely to be the best fit. Employees who feel they are a good fit in a company are more content to remain in the company long-term and with reportedly greater levels of satisfaction from both business and employee.


Hiring through referrals is clearly worth a look.  


If you are new to the referral game, or if you’ve not been able to successfully hire by referral in the past, here are a few basic guidelines to get you started.


1.Employees won’t refer their contacts to a business for whom they don’t enjoy working.


This is great place to begin the discussion of employee referrals. What do your employees really think about their job? It’s impossible to provide for the preferences of every employee, but your team as a whole should be able to connect with their work. Employees who feel appropriately challenged, appreciated, and compensated will be far more likely to pass on the good word to their circle of associates. It’s the best free advertising a company could ask for.


  1. Employees won’t bother offering referrals if they don’t feel that they have a voice.


Having a strong system of communication allows employees to invest personally in a company’s future. Employees will bring forward ideas they believe will be a real help to a company, including recommendations for quality team members. If employees are never given an opportunity to offer suggestions or contribute to the vision of the company, it is unlikely they will feel comfortable recommending even the most qualified candidates for a company to consider.


  1. Employees won’t offer quality referrals if they don’t understand what their company is looking for.


Helping employees understand your company goals and expectations – including job openings and specific qualifications – can strengthen your company internally and improve the referral process. Employees will better understand their own position and place within the company as a whole, the vision for the future, and how they can best contribute to growth and development.  Referrals, then, become part of an employee caring about their work enough to want to add other quality employees to the team.
If you are not utilizing referrals, consider the benefits of making all of your employees mini-recruiters in their own circles of influence. If you are still unsure of how to incorporate referrals into your business plan, consider bringing in a professional recruiter to consult on both big-picture goals and company-specific strategies.

Working with a Recruiter – How You Can Ensure it is Successful


If you are a company looking to hire a recruitment agency or consultant, you may be wondering how to make this new business relationship as successful as possible.

First and foremost, a clarification; we are talking about dealings with skilled and experienced recruiters, rather than the poorer representatives of the trade. We’ve written previously on warnings signs that you are working with a manipulative or inexperienced recruiter (“Not Everyone is a Recruiter – Skills and Experience are a Must.” and “Does Your Recruiter Need a Recruiter”).  Make sure your recruiter is the real deal.

Once you have made contact with a genuine, experienced recruiter, consider the following advice for making the partnership beneficial for all parties.


Recruiters do their job by becoming part of your team, by catching the vision you have for you company and working alongside you to accomplish your goals. This requires reflection, evaluation, and honesty from companies.  

What are you truly looking for in a new hire? Is the job description accurate and complete? How much are you willing to spend to acquire the right fit? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your business that have drawn or discouraged past candidates? Where would you like the recruiter’s job to begin and end?

A recruiter needs to know all the facts if he or she is going to be an effective advocate for your business. Be honest about your expectations, available finances, timeline, and the role you’re wanting the recruiter to play.


In addition to clearly communicating your expectations for the recruiter initially, a successful and profitable business-recruiter relationship requires continued communication throughout the hiring process. This involves regular discussions over any changes in strategy and what is or is not working regarding both process and candidates.

Recruitment agencies are generally brought in by companies to speed along the hiring process. Even the most efficient recruiter will struggle to deliver by the deadline if a business does not respond to phone calls and emails or set up meetings and candidate interviews in a timely fashion.

What if your recruiter isn’t meeting your expectations? What if you aren’t happy with his or her performance? Problems, just like strategies, need to be discussed openly in order to ensure success. Make sure your issues aren’t merely miscommunications before throwing in the towel.


One of the major money-savers of working with a professional recruiter is a highly-efficient hiring process. But that is only possible if companies allow recruiters to do the job for which they have been hired. If you’ve vetted your recruiter and you know you have acquired a true professional, trust their expertise.

Investing in a recruiter means you should also be willing to hear out his or her ideas and suggestions for improved business practice or efficiency.  This could be as simple as providing required company resources to the recruiter in a timely fashion, or it could involve more complex matters, such as updating a company’s hiring process, trying out a new marketing strategy, or reevaluating company onboarding practices and benefits packages. 

Recruiters are valuable because they have a broad knowledge of industries as a whole as well as current candidate trends. If your recruitment agency recommends updates or changes to your company’s process, it would be wise to take these recommendations under serious consideration.

What a Recruiter REALLY Does

“Recruitment” can sound a bit ambiguous. With the increased availability of technology able to aid in the hiring process, it may be unclear to some what a professional recruiter can bring to the table. What role do recruitment agencies and consultants play in today’s job market?


It is our business to keep up with the industries we serve. This requires a working knowledge of technological advances in the field, changes in standards for compensation, benefits, and job expectations, most effective marketing techniques, and the status of potential candidates – active and passive.

We research on our own behalf, building up knowledge of the field and fostering relationships with candidates and companies. We also research on behalf of businesses looking to better understand the changes in their industry or expand in a new direction.

Company Branding

A professional recruiter’s knowledge of an industry as a whole makes him or her a valuable asset to businesses wanting to embark on big-picture reevaluations. Recruiters can inform you on current marketing strategies across your industry, give insight into potentially misunderstood or outdated branding, and offer assistance in formulating a new company-wide identity that will influence everything from marketing style to job descriptions.

Sourcing and Screening

This is what recruiters are often known for, though it is only a portion of the work we do. We know people, and we know how to know people. We’re not doing basic LinkedIn searches here; we are professionals at keeping track of quality, high-end, and often-passive candidates.

Experienced recruiters can screen for more than just GPA or years of experience; they can filter applicants by cultural fit, ability to communicate, and ability to follow directions, among other things. Cultural fit is especially useful with mid or upper-level hires, as compatibility with a company’s core values is key to a long-term, successful employee-employer relationship.

Candidate Engagement and Sales and Negotiations

Technology has nothing that can compete with an experienced recruiter in this area. People are a recruiter’s speciality; we are professionals at communication and networking. Maybe it’s easy for a business to locate talent, but harder for them to close on quality candidates.

Seasoned recruiters build rapport with candidates, and their trustworthiness allows them to know when a candidate is a genuinely great fit for a position, how serious a candidate is about a position, when a candidate is ready to make a move, and what factors will determine if a candidate will accept a job offer.

Recruiters work for businesses; they seek to fully understand the position a business needs filled and then do the complex sales and negotiating work to make sure their clients acquire high-caliber candidates. They are professional closers.  
Recruiting agencies and consultants are there to help when a business gets stuck – when their current marketing isn’t working, when they aren’t able to close on top candidates, when they are struggling to understand changes within their industry, when the business plan that has been successful for years is suddenly less effective. Recruiters are expert problem solvers.

Innovative Recruiting Tips for 2017

Big data is changing everything.  With more and more business being conducted in the digital arena, it’s easier than ever before to analyze effective business practice by looking at the numbers. Technology now makes it possible to get numerical feedback on virtually every aspect of online commerce, including recruiting practices.

Computers can analyze a company’s marketing effectiveness, source, select top candidates, screen, test, interview, and train.

According to Entelo’s Annual Recruiting Trends Report, 2016 found the recruiting world trying out these new data-driven technologies. Entelo predicts then, that 2017 will “be a year chock full of learnings and course corrections.”

“Learnings” and “course corrections” are indeed necessary, as it would be foolish to presume that technology has simultaneously grown enormously and matured enough to simply be left alone. And it would be equally foolish to assume that technology has made the position of “recruiter” – whether inside or outside a company – obsolete.

Recruitment is still a very human process, but recruiting professionals need to be proactive in their response to the wave of big-data-driven changes.

We offer the following advice to those who want to excel at recruiting efforts in 2017.

Become a Tech Expert

We don’t mean that all HR departments and recruiting consultants should now be technology majors. We mean that the flurry of new digital tools available to businesses has created a huge demand for evaluation. If your business is recruitment, being a reliable source of information on recruiting technology will not only give you a leg up on in the hiring game, but will make you a sought-out source for consulting and training for other companies.

Recruiting tech is both unproven and unfamiliar, creating the need for both assessment and instruction. Have the ability to help with both – wisely recommending or advising against new technology and training others in its proper implementation – and there will be no lack of profitable work laid before you.

Become an Industry Expert

It’s not only technological advances that require expertise; it’s the larger changes in industry as well. Technology, as well as politics, economic changes, new generations of employees, and every other cultural wave, has a unique impact on each specific industry. To continue with our discussion of technology in particular, it is valuable to know not only what new marketing and hiring technology exists, but also how it is being used by other businesses in your industry.

You’ll want to be able to answer questions like: What are my competitors doing with this new technology that is working (making them more efficient, improving their advertising, speeding up the hiring process, etc.)? In what ways has this new technology brought changes to our field (changes in job descriptions, titles, expectations, compensation, etc.)? How is technology being misused and how can we avoid the same pitfalls?

Recruiters who keep a close eye on changes to their industry as a whole can learn from the successes and failures of many, and so guard against becoming either stagnant or reckless. A recruiting team with an ever-evolving understanding of the big picture will be an irreplaceable resource to their company.


Finally, businesses who wish to excel in recruiting in 2017 will have to learn to adapt, even if it means big changes. Maybe your company will decide to let computers handle all candidate sourcing; that could mean altered job descriptions for employees. It could mean restructuring, retraining, refocusing. But if, in the end, it means that your hiring team spent more time with quality interviews and employee onboarding, and that led to more efficient and better hires, it will have been worth it.

Glassdoor’s 2016 report shared findings from The Global Social CEO Survey, stating that over half of US respondents reported that they were “more likely to purchase

from a company whose values and leadership are clearly communicated through executive leadership participation on social media.”

75% of respondents “believe that companies whose C-Suite executives and leadership team use social media to communicate about their core mission, brand values and purpose are more trustworthy.”
Essentially, technology isn’t going anywhere. Consumers are increasingly relying on a company’s online proficiency to determine where to take their business.  Passive candidates often begin building their understanding of a company through their experience as consumers. “Adapting” then, in 2017, means embracing the strengths of new technology.