The Power in Letting Your Employees Recruit for You

recruiting employees

This article was written by Namrta Raghvendra, Customer Marketing Manager at LinkedIn. Her tips are based upon a webinar with LinkedIn’s Emily Campana, Global TA Partner, and Leigh Miller, Global Employee Referral Program Manager, and Lever CMO Leela Srinivasan. You can listen to the full recording of the webinar here.

When I first drove a Tesla a few days back, I couldn’t decipher what the hype was about until I launched the car in autopilot mode. Then, it all made sense: I could just sit back, relax, and wind down with some music, all while the car drove itself. It was a little spooky at first to give up control (aren’t we all wired to take control?!) but slowly I got comfortable with the idea, eventually taking delight in letting go.

So naturally, I wondered if I could also delight my customers by using the  principle of autopilot in talent acquisition. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my customers didn’t have to put candidates in their pipeline proactively (or reactively) and had an on-demand pool to tap into when required? I scratched my head to find an analogous solution in the recruiting world. And sure enough, there is one – and it starts with giving up control, and empowering your employees to recruit for you.

For talent professionals, the philosophy of harnessing the power of employees’ network and building a culture of recruiting in organizations isn’t exactly alien. We know that referrals are significantly more efficient than external resources including sourcing via agencies or in-house teams, or direct applications from candidates. We also have data that proves that referred candidates are more engaged, better performers and have higher retention rates. So it is a ‘win-win-win’ situation for the employer, employee making the referral, and candidate being referred. Yet unfortunately, for most organizations, these become mere buzzwords, and companies struggle to implement and reap the advantages of these strategies in action.

So, where can you get started?

  • Build a culture worth referring people to: Start with building a culture that your employees are proud of and want to tell their connections about. Research indicates that the primary reason that employees  refer their friends is to help them, and not the financial incentives. This motive can also act as a disincentive if the employees aren’t confident about the company’s culture.  
  • Repeat, and then repeat again: Referring isn’t always top-of-mind for your employees, who are busy with their day-to-day responsibilities. So keep the conversations about referrals going while ensuring that your employees have sufficient visibility into open roles at all times.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate wins: The key is to acknowledge them publicly in the right forums. Also, the harder the role is to fill, the better the recognition should be (not necessarily implying financial recognition here).
  • Provide visibility into the status: Often, the referrals go into a black box – and both the referred candidate andthe employee who referred don’t have visibility into the recruiting process. This can be unsettling for both parties and can dissuade employees to refer more connections. So the recruiter should take it upon themselves to keep both parties informed of the latest status regardless of whether it is a go or no-go. Yes, it does add an extra step for your recruiters, but they’ll certainly reap the rewards in future.
  • Share feedback with employees: This is crucial if you want to improve the quality of referrals. Help your employees understand why someone isn’t a good fit for the role from a skills perspective. In fact, you can take this a step further and help them understand how to read or interpret the job descriptions better in future to filter out connections that seem misaligned with your open roles. Again, investing a little early-on in educating your employees will ensure a better return as you scale your program and set it on auto-pilot 🙂  

To learn more, don’t forget to tune in to the webinar on how to harness the power of employee referrals for a successful recruiting strategy. Featured speakers Emily, Leela, and Leigh share examples of how they were able to put their talent pipeline on autopilot by implementing successful employee referral programs in their organizations.