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.

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