Referral Games or Send a Friend!
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 @ 2:16 PM CST by Christie Lynch
Category: Recruitment Solutions
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Viral Marketing Employee Referral Program


Employee Referral Program Tips!

by Christie Lynch

The hiring environment is shifting again and recruiters are realizing that it is much harder to find their optimal hire through traditional means of advertising. Unemployment is down but there are still many openings for high quality workers that remain unfilled. The people who remain available just aren’t a good fit it would seem for your openings. Combine that with worker confidence being up which translates to employees finding more satisfaction with their current employment, feeling less possibility that they will lose their job in the next year plus, many are not considering looking for another job and you have created a difficult environment for recruiters.

So how do you find those top quality performers when the only people applying for your jobs aren’t the cream of the employment crop? Referrals.

Who remembers the 80’s Faberge Shampoo commercial where the woman tells two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on and so on…? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCjmDI4AJlk)

The top shelf workers you already employ are your key to finding other high performing talent. The average individual has 150 Facebook friends, if you employ only 20 employees in your company that is 3000 first tier connections to possible candidates and a vast number more of possible candidates when you figure in second, third and fourth tier connections. Viral advertising is a powerful tool for recruiters and what is more, it pays bigger dividends in the long run. You may not get “more” referrals than you get applications from traditional advertising but the quality of referred candidates generated is much higher on average. Plus the additional bonus is that referred workers tend to start their jobs quicker than other applicants, they stay longer, and it is generally less expensive to recruit and hire them. (Click Here for a great Infographic from Jobvite.com)

Sign me up” you say, or maybe it’s “We have a referral program and that is not the case!” Well, there is a right way and a wrong way to run a referral program.

Some quick tips to setting up a quality referral program are…

  1. Easy Apply!  Don’t have a convoluted system to apply. This is good advice whether you are doing a referral program or not. Thirty clicks to apply are too much! Actually go through your application system from the candidate perspective. Consider the concept you are seeking a job and ask yourself… would you do this ten times a day either?
  2. Quick follow up! Don’t leave referred applicants hanging on the line waiting for a response from you. No one wants to refer a friend for a miserable, pointless experience. Likewise, don’t delay updating the referring employee on the status of their referred applicant either.
  3. Bonus Issues! Whether it is paying too little bonus, paying too much or delaying the bonuses for 90/180 days, bonus issues can ruin your referral program. Set up a reasonable “Job to Bonus” ratio and consider what you pay out in bonuses as your cost to advertise.
  4. Don’t Allow Referral Junk! Allowing employees to either spam you with large volumes of referrals or encouraging them to refer people who contact them from the outside asking for a referral is setting you up for failure. The whole idea is to get candidates your employees actually know on a professional level.
  5. Referral Cards! Provide your employees with something to give out to impressive individuals. Not only does this allow the candidate to have the information to apply, it shows who the referring individual is and confirms this person was actually chosen by your team to apply. Win, Win, Win!
  6. Track and Update! Make it easy to track whoever is referring your candidates and then let your referring employees know who is a good fit and who isn’t. Recruiters require feedback from managers to allow them to recruit the perfect employee so consider that anyone referring a candidate also needs that input to better provide you with that perfect match.
  7. Remind and Recognize! Lastly, remind your employees monthly of your ERP program and recognize those who have participated. Everyone can use a reminder and everybody likes to be recognized.

Implementing or updating an Employee Referral Program might just be the key to your recruiting success this year. Like any project, a little up front work can save you a lot of disappointment down the road and leave you with a much more effective program.

Happy recruiting!



Krumrie, M. (2014). Retrieved 2 24, 2015, from www.ziprecruiter.com: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/fall-2014-hiring-outlook-regional-report-and-challenges/

Laurence Hebberd. (n.d.). Retrieved 2 24, 2015, from thundercoverrecruiter.com: http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/infographic-employee-referrals-hire/

Sullivan, D. J. (2008, 05 05). Retrieved 02 24, 2014, from www.ere.net: http://www.ere.net/2008/05/05/employee-referral-program-killers/

Weiss, S. (2014, 11 04). Retrieved 2 24, 2015, from www.ere.ent: http://www.ere.net/2014/11/04/enhance-your-employee-referral-program-marketing-approach/



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