How to Build the Most Effective Employer Referral Program

You may have heard great things about employee referral programs. How it’s one of the cheapest ways to recruit new talent for your company and find the best employee for the role. Here are some more statistics that you may not know about referred applicants. Those candidates are actually 55% faster to hire than those arriving through traditional channels; you can save up to $3,000 or more per hire when using a referral program; and according to research, 88% of employers claim that referrals provide above-average applicants. We’ve probably convinced you by now to start recruiting by referrals, but how do you create the best employer referral program?

  1. Be Clear about Your Demands

Just like with any job description and recruiting process, it’s important that you know what you’re looking for. You should also be specific about the job requirements and skills needed for a successful candidate. Since you want your employees to spread the word for you, this is even more important with referrals. As they probably use their own language to describe the role, your employees need to be familiar with every minor point.

In the emails that you send out about the vacancy, talk about the responsibilities, the level of experience needed, the career trajectory for the role, the benefits, the company culture and the type of person you’re looking for. Take into account that employees from different departments will be reading this, so it should speak to all. Also, talk about the kind of person you may not want to apply for the role to narrow down the margin of error.

  1. Don’t Create a Lengthy Process 

A survey from CareerBuilder found that 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of their online job applications because they were too long or complex. The same principle applies when it comes to referral programs. If you build a complicated process, most of your employees will not bother going through all of it, even if there’s a monetary price for every new referee hired. It’s the same for the referees. 

You can use an employee referral software to help connect hiring managers with your employees and keep the process organized and simplified. Those can also help your employees share the positions on their social media and can sometimes integrate with an Applicant Tracking System. If you want to make the process even simpler, you can just ask your employees for a name and contact number, and pick up communication from there, feeding the information into the system yourself.

  1. Keep Communicating with Your Employees

Since this strategy relies on active participation from your employees, you need to have an open line of communication with them, as well as keep them engaged. A one-time email about starting a referral program is not enough. Make sure to send weekly emails about new vacancies in the company, as well as updates about the current roles on offer. This can be done using the software you choose to use, or with manual emails. You can also talk about them in weekly meetings, on the company Slack and any other place you see fit. Don’t forget to update them about the status of their referees as well. Not knowing how the process is going sends the message that it’s not worth their time and effort.

While your staff may think they already reached out to all of their contacts, remind them about the different channels they can use, such as their LinkedIn contacts, family members, Alumni website, societies and so on. You can also offer new incentives every week to encourage further engagement.

  1. Offer Rewards on Top of Money

Money is all well and good -- everyone likes having it, but it’s not enough to motivate your employees. Finding the right candidates for your position and submitting them is a process that takes time, and if all that you are offering is a bonus, some may not bother. If, however, you are offering things like vacation days, paid trips or tickets to events, sometimes it will create a competition within your team, as well as boost your company brand.

You can also create a system for the monetary rewards, based on the levels the candidates have completed within the recruiting process. If the candidate passed the initial screening, your employee gets a small fee, whereas if they passed the interview, your employee gets a bigger one, and if they get hired, your employee wins the whole sum. This will motivate them to submit more candidates, as they now get some kind of reward, even if the referee doesn’t get hired.

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