This blog had to be posted today. See, today is the first Monday of the month – also known as “New Hire Orientation” day at my company. I had 4 new hires in today’s class, including an amazing employee referral. This candidate had applied to a handful of jobs, but I had not given much consideration to him until one of our employees brought up his name. This employee is one of our rock stars (forgive the overused term) so I thought I should take a 2nd look. I’m glad I did. After a couple of pretty thorough phone interviews I decided which position I felt he was the best fit for (he had, sadly, applied to several - which actually makes our job harder). I got the hiring manager to interview him, then the director. Before you know it, we’re making an offer and everyone’s thrilled. Our employee gets a referral bonus, my candidate gets a job, the hiring manager gets a position filled. Everybody wins. On days like today, I love employee referrals.


Not every referral has such a happy ending. I’ll save my horror stories, mostly to protect the guilty. Instead, here’s a checklist for all you employees angling for your piece of the referral bonus.


Does the referral actually want to work for this company? If you send me your brother in law’s resume and I call them just to find out that our office is too far away, I reserve the right to be really, really mad at you.


Do we have a current opening they are a fit for? Will we ever? We do a really good job of keeping our openings up to date. I am happy to take 5 minutes to discuss them with you or your referral, since I’m often aware of things that will open up in the near future. PLEASE don’t try to refer a chemical engineer - we are a sales company and don’t have any of those. Not now, probably not ever.


Give me the info and let me take it from there. Stopping by my desk twice a day to ask if I’ve called your neighbor will not move them up my priority list. Emailing me (while cc’ing my boss) that your buddy hasn’t heard from me (it’s been 3 hours after all) will not make me more excited about calling. Better yet, pass along my contact info to your referral and have him or her call me directly. You don’t need to be the middleman.


Don’t make assumptions about what makes a “perfect” candidate. If you work in Finance, please don’t assume you know what makes a good Sales Manager. If you’re a top sales performer, you probably don’t know anything about what it takes to be a great receptionist. Besides, you don’t know what the rest of the candidate pool looks like – it’s a wee bit arrogant to say your person is the BEST when you don’t even know who to compare them to.


Help your referral understand, and work within, our process. Chances are if you’re employed here you went through some variation of our hiring process. I may have even been your recruiter. So I know you know better. Throwing your buddy’s resume at every position we post is not going to get you any closer to that referral bonus.


Ask yourself is this referral is worth your reputation. If they interview well, get hired, and work out you are a star. If they screw up at any point in the process, rightly or wrongly, it will reflect on you. If you believe this person will make you look good, I want to talk to them. If you’re just trying to help your brother get a job so he’ll move out of your parents’ house, you’ve got the wrong recruiter.


We spend an awful lot of time telling people to network into companies. We encourage our employees to refer their friends. Do we ever tell them how to do it right?

Views: 2982

Comment by Assaf Eisenstein on April 3, 2012 at 9:35am

Nice post, Amy - thanks for sharing!

Comment by Darryl Dioso on April 3, 2012 at 10:58am

Great post as always Amy - you Buggy Whipper. 

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on April 3, 2012 at 11:17am

thanks Assaf

Darryl - I laughed so loud at that I am now trying to explain what it means to be a buggy whipper... :)

Comment by Marie on April 3, 2012 at 12:18pm

You read my mind.  Great post!

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on April 3, 2012 at 2:39pm

Thanks Marie! Not at all intended as a slam on referrals or referral programs... employees just need to be smart in how they try to help their friends. :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 4, 2012 at 2:40am
Heard a funny story last week about employee referrals. Seems there was an employee who was referring people from all over the US. Some of them were good candidates and several were hired with bonus paid. The stream of referrals increased to the point that two of the internal recruiters reported they had contacted people through LinkedIn who told the recruiters that they had already been contacted by one of their other recruiters and had sent him their resumes. They were pleased that the recruiter had called them several times, had in depth conversations and had given them fantastic info about the company. They were waiting to hear about a time for a phone interview. Two days later here came about four or five referrals from this same employee, including the two who thought they had been contacted by a company recruiter. Seems he didn't know any of the people he had referred. Checking his online activity the company discovered that he was spending over six hours a day on LinkedIn and posting jobs on Craig's list and beaucoup other free job sites. Not exactly what the sales manager thought one of his territory reps should be doing.

As I heard the story, they couldn't decide exactly which one of the things he had done to fire him for so they gave him the choice of resigning or taking a pay cut and being a full time recruiter. The only question he asked was would he still be paid a bonus at the same rate if he became a recruiter. Told no, he resigned.

There are several messages in all of that, not the least of which is employee referrals gone wild. Good post Amo.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on April 4, 2012 at 12:13pm

Thanks Maisha!

Sandra that is hilarious! Looks like he's got a future in recruiting if he wants it... haha

Comment by Kyle Schafroth on April 4, 2012 at 12:30pm

This post is so full of #win

I feel the urge to print out a few copies of this and just leave the stack sitting on my desk for passers-by to take, read and abide by.

Comment by Jackie Burress on April 4, 2012 at 1:33pm

Amy, great post!  I have several horror stories too, and many of the employee referrals I receive have not given thought to the checklist.

Kyle - I'm with you about printing copies for those in my office to read and heed!

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on April 5, 2012 at 11:56am

thanks everyone - I've got a few people I'd like to share this with as well. :)


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