Few Recruiting Tools Work Better Than a “‘Buddy Hire” Program

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May 25, 2015

First of two parts

If you are experiencing great difficulty in convincing a reluctant superstar or magnet hire candidate to say yes to a job offer, there are few more powerful convincing tools than a “buddy hire” program.

If you haven’t heard of it, the buddy hire approach is where you offer to hire your target star candidate and a close colleague or friend of theirs as a package deal. This option is amazingly effective simply because most of us do have a close colleague or friend who we’ve always wanted to work with.

And as a result, most would jump at this rare opportunity to work together with them.

Why hiring both is a compelling option

Now before you dismiss this approach as too radical or expensive, realize that all of the military services have at some time offered a variation of what they call the “buddy enlistment program.” In the corporate world, we call it a buddy hiring program or a hire-them-both option.

Hiring two exceptional individuals as a package deal is a strategy that frequently allows you to get even the most difficult-to-convince top recruit to say yes. It’s the ultimate candidate-convincing tool that will not likely be offered by any competing firm.

Using any standard, this type of buddy offer is certainly a WOW that is guaranteed to get your target candidate thinking!

Two buddies frequently decide to attend the same college, because they can share the experience together. In a similar way, employee referral programs work so well because they allow employees the opportunity to work alongside or at least at the same firm with someone they consider to be among the best. The hire-them-both approach is simply a logical extension of these two concepts.

Prominent firms like Apple and Google have found that one of the most impactful and compelling attraction factors is “working alongside great coworkers.” If you use a data-driven approach to recruiting, one of the first and most important steps is to conduct market research in order to find out what factors would trigger an extremely-difficult-to-convince” applicant to shift from a no to a yes answer.

Compelling factors to consider

When you compile a list of candidate dream job or compelling convincing factors, quite often you find among those factors references to:

  • Working with my best friend;
  • Working with people just like me who I am comfortable with;
  • Working alongside people who I’ve always dreamed of working with.

In order to show the candidate the quality of their future co-workers, firms like Google have presented candidates with a list of employee profiles or resumes showing the quality of the team that they would join. Although this approach is effective, it falls short when the individual who you’re targeting wants to work alongside someone who doesn’t currently work at your firm.

Selecting the perfect colleague

And that’s where a buddy hire program has a huge advantage because it allows your target candidate to personally select the individual who they want to work with.

Many top prospects are initially shocked when they are told that they can have the opportunity to work alongside someone they select. However, when they realize that you’re serious, many instantly realize that this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.

The buddy offer can be compelling for a variety of reasons, including that it provides a chance to create something together, to work with someone you are totally compatible with, to work with a treasured colleague, or even to commute to work with a best friend. The buddy who they select varies, but it is usually their mentee, a spouse, a son/daughter/parent, a college buddy, a past team leader, or a former cherished colleague they would love to work with again.

Creating a positive result

Currently with such a shortage of highly skilled talent, the hire-them-both approach provides an opportunity to simultaneously add two top employees. If you work at a rapidly growing firm, you should consider this approach as a form of pipeline hiring where you “early identify” future hires, but in this case, you simply hire a second candidate earlier than you expected.

While some may view hiring two individuals as an additional cost, view this as an opportunity to get one additional hire, without any added recruiting effort or costs (because the primary hire will do the work for you in selecting and convincing the buddy hire to join your firm).

Raising the comfort level of new hires

We also know from candidate research that one of the prime resistance factors to changing jobs is the negative thought of leaving a team where the candidate is extremely comfortable, because they know everyone.

The uncertainty of joining a completely new team where everyone is a stranger can be minimalized if the candidate knows that they are guaranteed to be compatible with at least one co-worker, their buddy.

Even if the two hires don’t work together on the same team, merely having the opportunity to share breaks and lunches, as well as commuting together, may be enough to excite them.

Tomorrow: The Important Design Components of a Buddy Program