5 Ways to Unlock Your Employees as Recruiters


Imagine you’re a recruiter, and you meet a fellow film buff at a small movie screening one night. As you continue chatting, you learn that she feels stifled in her current role, and is looking for a company that will challenge her creatively. As a recruiter, you begin to mentally scan the open roles at your company, searching for a potential fit for her. When you think of one, you ask for her email and make a note to upload her resume into your ATS the next morning.

This line of reasoning is typical for a recruiter, whose job is to find the best fit for their company needs. But what if every employee thought that way?

In our latest webinar, engineering leader and hiring expert RC Johnson showed us that when you maximize every employee’s involvement in hiring, you maximize your ability to attract top candidates. Below, we’ve shared 7 steps you can take to turn your employees into recruiters:

1. Build an effective referral program

According to RC, it is estimated that 15 to 30 percent of hires at most companies are made through referrals. When your fellow employee refers someone they’ve worked with, they likely know firsthand that the person is a top performer. Even when the referral is someone your colleague recently met at a party, that face-to-face interaction still carries a ton of weight.

Every employee won’t be a natural recruiter, but everyone does have a part to play in bringing top talent to your company. In order to create a world-class employee referral program, the first step is to get every employee enthused about their role in your company’s success. If your employees feel integrated into your company culture and committed to your mission, they will be incentivized to actively seek out qualified candidates. Next, lay a solid foundation that every employee can use to recruit. To build this foundation, establish your brand story. In other words, help your employees understand your company values so that they can tell the right story when they speak to candidates. You will need to find a brand advocate in each department at your company. That brand advocate will encourage referrals within their own department, and serve as your brainstorming buddy as you attempt to build their team through sourcing, interviewing and closing candidates.

RC also recommends that we view onboarding as an optimal time to solicit referrals from your team. If they’ve just joined your company, the best people they worked with are still fresh in their mind. Ask your new hire questions like: “Who are you sad to leave behind?”, or “Who do you want to work with?”, in order to help them brainstorm.

2. Remind your coworkers that recruiting is a two-way street

Recruiting is not dating, but it’s awfully close. When you date someone, you likely prioritize mutual attraction and ask questions about their interests or motivations. As your employees begin to think like recruiters, their focus should be similar. Your interviewers know they are evaluating candidates, but do they understand what it takes to find a mutual fit? Make sure they are able to explain the exciting and challenging parts of their role in order to get the candidate excited. Just like dating, recruiting is a two-way street.

In this competitive market for candidates, recruiting can be like patiently courting a potential partner. Make sure that you and your fellow employees reach out to candidates consistently, so that your company remains fresh in their minds. In order to organize these reach-outs, RC recommends that you invest in an applicant tracking system. As a recruiter, your goal is to build your company. In order to accomplish that, you need an effective tool along with an army of unofficial recruiters.

3. Maximize each employee’s role in creating a positive candidate experience

Candidates should emerge from every interview with additional insight into your company and the certainty that they were able to demonstrate all of their skills. They also want to feel challenged and understood throughout their process.

If your candidates are not finishing their interview processes with these takeaways, RC has a few suggestions. First, organize a training session for interviewers so that they understand how to ask digging questions without alienating candidates. Encourage them to push interviewees without breaking them. Additionally, ensure that your interviewers walk into each interview with an understanding of the candidate’s background. This will enable them to evaluate the candidate properly and deliver a quality candidate experience. Remind interviewers that even if a candidate is not the right fit for the role at that moment, they could be a fit later. Alternatively, the candidate could later be a partner, advocate or consumer of the services your company provides.

When you craft a stand-out candidate experience, consider RC’s theory of “The Energy Sink.” Here is how he explains it: We typically begin our days with a high level of energy. As the day continues, our energy tends to grow and shrink. RC insists that even as your energy peaks and wanes, you invest a high quantity of energy in candidates. One way to indicate this investment is to give them ample opportunity to ask you questions. Give them insight into your own experiences, and make the effort to understand what they are excited and concerned about. You can even ask candidates how your team has performed throughout the interview process. Ask them questions like: “Did you have a good experience?”, “Did you feel like you were challenged?”, and “Were you pushed too hard?”. The key is to get ahead of your candidate’s questions, and answer the questions they aren’t asking. When you invest energy in your candidate, they will walk out of your company excited about the opportunity before them.

4. Capitalize upon the network effects of speaking at events

When you and your co-workers speak at meetups and conferences, you control the story that potential candidates hear. While they may attend those events with a different company or interest in mind, this kind of positive exposure can put you on their radar.

When you decide to create your own events, you can begin by planning a recruiting happy hour at your office every quarter. Assure candidates that this a relaxed, low-pressure space in which they can get to know the team. The happy hour will give them a more intimate glimpse into your company culture. As you promote the happy hour to your company, encourage leadership to come to the event and meet the prospects you are considering. While it is a minimal time investment on their part, it will speak volumes to the happy hour attendees.

5. Give, so that you earn the right to ask for help in return

When your team contributes to your community through speaking on panels and public forums, you absolutely build your company’s brand awareness amongst candidates. Just as important, however, is the rapport you establish with other companies at these events. When you build relationships with other employers, you can ask them to serve as your brand advocates. They will be incentivized to participate in your events and speak effusively about your company successes. Finally, if they ever decide that a qualified candidate is not the right fit for their needs at the time, they may send that candidate your way.


Even if you are the only person that was hired to recruit for your company, you should never be the only recruiter. The network of all of your coworkers combined is far-reaching, and we encourage you to tap into it as you search for top candidates.

To learn more about how you can turn all of your employees into recruiters, take a look at our recent blog post: 9 Tricks to Put your Employee Referral Program into Overdrive.