Maximizing Employee Referrals: The Key to Hiring Success

Referral hires often stand out as the cream of the crop in any company’s recruitment efforts. It’s a simple equation:

Good Employee + wanting to stay a good employee + employee’s reputation = usually good people they recommend to HR/Recruiting to go after and hire

I’m like Einstein when it comes to HR math! However, here’s the challenge: despite this equation, many companies struggle to receive enough referrals. We’ve analyzed our referral process, fine-tuned collateral materials, and even leveraged technology to automate referrals. Yet, the numbers remain short of our expectations and needs.

There’s a straightforward but often overlooked aspect: giving employees explicit permission to share job openings within their personal and professional networks every time a referral is needed for a specific position.

HR excels in roll-outs—we’re masters at initiating programs. However, where we often stumble is in the continuity of these programs post-roll-out. Brutal truth, but true.

So, how can you ramp up your referral game?

  1. Establish a program (surprisingly, not all companies have one).
  2. When in need of a referral, ask for it every single time. Assuming that employees will naturally share openings isn’t always effective.
  3. Specifically “give permission” to employees to share job openings on their social networks—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok you name it!

BEST PRACTICE TIP: Create departmental email groups. When a relevant position opens up, send an email to the group with standard referral language and an easily shareable hyperlink along with clear instructions.

Granting “permission” triggers action—it’s a psychological thing, and it works wonders. Think about it, like you were a 5 year old.  Your parents tell you, you can’t ride your Green Machine in the street.  Then, one day, Mom is out getting her nails done and your Dad sees you doing circles in the driveway on that Green Machine and he goes “Hey, why don’t you take that into the street?!”  What do you do?  You immediately take that bad boy for a ride in the street! Dad “gave you permission” and you ran with it!

Referrals aren’t quite the same, but it’s surprising how some employees question whether they’re allowed to share job postings with friends and family. Don’t assume—they might surprise you.

So, empower your employees. Give your employees permission to get you some referrals! Or what if you allowed anyone in your company to hire?

2 thoughts on “Maximizing Employee Referrals: The Key to Hiring Success

  1. Tim,
    I enjoyed your thoughts on empowering employees to share current job openings. It is hard to imagine a good employee putting their reputation on the line for someone who might not be a good fit for the company. In my current company we have a referral bonus program where employees can receive monetary incentives for referring employees who are eventually hired. Unfortunately, these referral bonuses are only for jobs that are hard to fill. The trick is to find a way to get current employees to buy in to the referral process. The incentive doesn’t always have to be monetary. As an employee just the idea that my company trust me to bring in potential employees can be a powerful incentive. I love the analogy of a dad giving their kid permission to take their bike out in the street. That feeling of trust not only empowers current employees but also potential employees who are looking for a company to empower them as well. Your final question on what if a company allowed anyone within the company to hire is very intriguing to me. I understand it’s not possible for every company, but that level of trust to me instills the idea of a partnership. If an employee received that level of responsibility, I would imagine they would feel a since of ownership in the company and would not want to hire anyone who they did not believe would be a great employee.

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