Recruiting and Staffing

Want More Job Referrals? Just Give Employees Permission to Give Them

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It’s pretty widely accepted that referral hires are the best hires that most companies make. Pretty easy math equation on why:

Good Employee + wanting to stay a good employee + employee’s reputation = Usually good people that they recommend to HR/Recruiting to go after and hire

I’m like Einstein when it comes to HR math!

But, there is one piece to the equation that most all companies struggle with — we don’t get enough of these referrals! So:

  • We look at our referral process.
  • Then we go out and look at our collateral materials associated with our referral program.
  • Then we look at using technology to automate our referral program.
  • Then we look at the numbers again – and again – and we still don’t have enough of these hires.

Giving your employees permission

There is still one thing we keep forgetting to do, and it’s simple, which is probably why we “assume” we don’t need to do it. We/you need to give your employees permission to do share this with their personal and professional networks – each and every time you want a referral for a certain position.

You know what we do really well in HR? Roll-outs! We do! We can roll-out the crap of just about any program you can think of. We love roll-outs. We live for roll-outs!

You know what we do really bad in HR? Continuing programs after we roll them out! The truth sucks because it’s true.

How to get more referrals

So, how can you get more referrals?

  1. Have a referral program (don’t laugh — way too many still don’t).
  2. When you want a referral, ask for it — each and every time. (We tend to roll out the referral program and assume each time we post a position our employees will just naturally share it with potential referrals. Guess what? They don’t.)
  3. When asking for a referral, specifically “Give Permission” to your employees to share this with their Facebook friends, their LinkedIn professional network and their Tweeps. (Specifically)

BEST PRACTICE ALERT: Create email groups by department, and when you get an opening for that department, send an email to the group with your standard referral “permission” language, plus one other item — an easy cut and paste hyperlink that they can post or send to their networks with specific instructions on where to paste/send it to.

Employees need to get an OK

Giving someone “permission” to do something triggers something in their mind so that they actually do it. I think it has something to do with psychology or something. I don’t know why — I’m an HR pro — but suffice it to say it works!

Think about it like you were a 5-year-old. Your parents tell you that you can’t ride your Green Machine in the street. Then one day, Mom is out getting her nails done and your Dad sees you doing circles in the driveway on that Green Machine and he goes “Hey, why don’t you take that into the street?”

What do you do? You immediately take that bad boy for a ride in the street! Dad “gave you permission” and you ran with it!

Referrals might be a “little” different, but I’ve actually had conversations with employees who’ve said, “Oh! Is it OK if I send this to my friends and family?” It’s like our posting was sort of corporate secret or something! But we shouldn’t assume; you’ll be surprised.

Now – go give your employees permission to get you some referrals!

This originally appeared on the blog  The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community – so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.
  • Mala Cornell

    Often employee referrals lead to like-minded talent. Referral hires can indeed be good hires, but are they the best hires for an organization looking to change culture and drive performance?