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  • Writer's pictureCheri Corfey

Implement an Employee Referral Program to Find the Best Match

Are Baby Boomer retirements wiping out key personnel from your employee rosters? Is your company in a period of major expansion? Hiring new employees is no company picnic.

It takes significant time and resources to find and recruit potential candidates, and then you still have to interview and train them once they’re hired. In fact, experts claim that on average, you’ll spend roughly three-times a new hire’s salary just to get them situated.

What if we told you that we could simplify this process considerably?

Implement an Employee Referral Program to Find the Best Match

Employee referral programs are a smart way to eliminate costs associated with professional recruiters, and utilizing in-house talent to find the next ideal candidate.

Let’s be clear here; employee referrals are not the same thing as hiring Employee X’s cousin just because he happens to be unemployed and needs a job. Referral programs are put into place with careful planning and consideration, using your current employees’ social networks to find the most qualified and/or experienced candidates for upcoming positions. And, since your employees have vetted these individuals, there’s a better chance they will fit into the employee family.

Here are some of the steps you and your HR employees can take to establish a clear, conscientious and successful employee referral company.

Have a clear understanding of your hiring goals

Of course, the ultimate goal is to hire the best candidate for the job. You may find your organization can expand your job postings or candidate sources to draw a diverse group of candidates. Encouraging applicants with disabilities or veterans to apply can be a great idea. Some job openings may also be capable of adjustment to allow a less experienced candidate, emerging professional or applicant from a unique background fill the role with on the job training or mentoring.

Also, use this planning phase to examine current employee referral hiring numbers. If they seem low, one of your goals may also be, “Increase employee referrals by XX%.”

Create an easy, straightforward referral process

The more an employee has to do to refer a candidate, the less motivated they will be to make the effort. So, keep it very simple and easy. At its simplest, you can simply ask employees for a referral’s name and contact info. That’s it.

If, however, you’re looking for a specific skill set, ask your employees to think about the professionals with that skill set they currently admire or think highly of. If you’re looking to hire a sales person, they may know of a great sales person at their local big box store who would love to work for a company where they are more than just a name and a face. In that case, you can simply ask for employees to drop the referral’s business card off with their name on the back so you know who referred who.

Communicate clearly with employees about what you’re looking for

Now, remember we talked about not just hiring Employee X’s cousin because he’s out of work and looking for a job? This is key. Referrals are not just about hiring someone’s relative or friend. They are about using people who know what it takes to do a job well, in order to find others who are qualified to do the job well.

Your should communicate very clearly about what you’re looking for. Make sure that employees understand:

  • The minimum education requirements for a particular job

  • Expected certifications or credentials

  • Minimum years of experience

  • Any specialized talents, experience or knowledge

  • The qualities you value and want to bring to the existing workforce

Setting out these clear expectations – preferably in writing or in your company’s ATS system - will layer the program with a bit more formality and ensure employees are more careful about whom they refer.

Be clear about your communication protocol

Think about how you want to communicate with employee referral candidates. Do you plan to email automatic rejections for those who aren’t qualified or don’t fit your needs at this time? Or, do you want to let employees know that you will get in contact with qualified candidates within one week – or two weeks (be specific) - and that no news means they will not be contacted this time around?

By creating a clear procedure for post-referral contacts, you relieve the burden of employees whose contacts keep asking, “have you heard anything yet? can you check for me?” That puts your employees in a tight spot. Clear post-referral communication and contact policies make employees feel more comfortable about referring people in the future.

Once your employee referral program is organized, stated and in motion, hiring new employees and expanding your business will be easier than it has ever been in the past. Who knows? You may never have to run another help wanted ad again.

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