5 Ways to Revolutionize Your Referral Program 1 Comment

Referral Program

Employee referral programs typically outproduce any other source of hire, when looking at recruiting cycle times, costs, and new hire quality. No surprise, right? What should be surprising is that companies typically invest the smallest amount of resources into referral programs when compared to other recruiting programs, tools, technology, and databases.

Listen to the average consultant or expert and they’ll tell you ways to improve your referral results include increasing the bonus, giveaway more prizes (like a car or trip), communicate better and encourage more referrals. If you want mediocre results, take their advice.

After working with several organizations on increasing their referral capabilities, there are approximately 100 characteristics of successful referral programs I’ve documented. Here is a list of the top 5 ways to revolutionize your referral program and experience dramatic improvements, based on this work.

  • Use a leading employee referral technology to market your program, jobs and referrals. And no, I don’t mean the crappy landing page your applicant tracking system offers. I’ve used and would recommend checking out EmployeeReferrals.com. Your employees are busy, you shouldn’t set the expectation that they need to check your open jobs or set job alerts to see what’s available and who they might know. With EmployeeReferrals.com, your employees can be marketed jobs that match people from their professional or personal networks, automatically. Their solution is cost effective, and after implementation we experienced a 300%+ increase in referral activity and 60% increase in referrals hired, within 3 months.
  • Reward referrals that come from people outside of your company. A solution like EmployeeReferrals.com allows you to reward, recognize, and compensate individuals who don’t work for your company. Let’s say one of your employees’ refers someone from their professional network (contact A) for a job and for whatever reason they aren’t open or interested – and they refer someone from their network (contact B) who gets hired. Why wouldn’t you split the reward between the original employee that referred Contact A, and Contact A as well?
  • Create a referral process, procedures and set SLA’s. Nothing will frustrate your employees more than having their referrals lost in the black hole of HR. Examples may include setting expectations to check their Reqs and contact referrals everyday, or within 24 hours. Or defining communication parameters up front so your employees know what happens and what to expect once they submit a referral. Also include a centralized mailbox or phone number for questions – make it as easy and seamless for your employees.
  • Build a campaign around your program – beyond just having a program. Tie 2-3 campaigns or themes per year around your referral program, have contests and provide consistent messaging, updates and reminders to your employees through team meetings, leaders, the intranet, paycheck stubs, department and all company meetings. Use these venues to recognize top referrers and success stories, tied to business results. If you want to create a conversation piece, send an oversized postcard to your employees’ home.
  • Host a referral event. There are a variety of ways to leverage your employees’ networks, and hosting an invitation only event can produce very strong results. Having recruiters and hiring managers available and accessible for on the spot conversations and interviews is the obvious benefit. Organize an event where potential candidates can watch videos, see your CEO speak about the company and visit departments are a few ways to create additional interest. If your company operates in multiple geographies, consider hosting a virtual event – there are multiple technology providers that manage the even for you. Brazen Careerist is one that I’ve had experience with, and would recommend taking a look at.


Referral programs have, and will continue to be a leading source of hire for organizations. What you decide to do with your program will determine how engaged your employees are to refer, and what level of success your company will experience, as a result.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Sunday, November 9th, 2014