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Why “Name-only” Employee Referrals Produce Dramatic Results
Posted By Dr. John Sullivan On October 29, 2012 @ 5:42 am In Advice and How-Tos | 12 Comments
Employee referrals provide the highest quality and the highest volume of hires, but you won’t receive as high a level of results if you don’t minimize roadblocks to referrals. Requiring a current resume for employee referrals  is a major “under-the-radar” detriment to reaching the goal of having referrals exceed 50% of all hires. Requiring a resume to start a referral process might not seem like a big deal (because the resume is “the currency” of recruiting) but it can be. Although “active candidates” all have current resumes, employed people who are not actively looking (some people call them passives ) don’t have an updated resume available and they may have little interest in creating one.
Requiring an updated resume in order to move forward slows down and occasionally stops employee referral efforts. Consider an alternative approach, which is offering an option to employees, so that all they must submit is a prospect’s name and contact information in order to begin the referral process. This approach is known as a “name-only” referral.
The primary goal of the “name-only” referral process is to increase the volume of high-quality referrals from employed prospects who are not active job seekers. That goal is achieved by minimizing any roadblocks that inhibit referrals. It specifically eliminates a major delaying factor, which is the need to have a resume to start the formal referral process. Some of the reasons why requiring a resume causes delays, reduces referral volume, and referral quality include:
If you are looking for a new member for your golf team, merely being provided with the name “Tiger Woods” and the fact that he was interested in your team would be enough for any recruiter to “take it from there.” Before you assume that a resume is required, remember that the three key elements of an effective employee referral application are completed by the employee, and most are done without access to a resume. These three assessments include:
Fortunately, each of the three key assessments can be and often are done by the employee without them ever seeing a formal resume. If the firm is willing to accept these three key initial assessments and a copy of the prospect’s LinkedIn profile, in the short term, there is no need for a formal resume.
After the organization formally accepts the “name only” referral, in some cases there will be a need for additional information to determine if a telephone interview is warranted. Fortunately with the growth of the Internet and social media, even a junior recruiter can easily supplement the employee’s initial assessment and the information provided in their LinkedIn profile. They can gather any necessary additional information without contacting the prospect through Google searches on their name, Internet searches for their resume or bio, by using vendor reference checking services, and also through a search of the individual’s personal website and social media sites. So at least in the case of exceptional “name-only” referrals, a formal resume may not need to be requested until the end of their initial screening interview.
If you want to make it easy for employees to make referrals and for prospects to become formal referrals, you should consider developing a process for accepting “name only” referrals. The concept is certainly not new; however, recent experience at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas has reinforced its potential positive impacts, where nearly 25% of “name-only” referrals are hired.
Incidentally, it includes a unique program feature that pays the employee $100 per name, even if the individual is not hired.
Key elements that you should consider including in your “name-only” employee referral process include:
In my experience, most people who run employee referral programs are extremely conservative and resistant to innovations. As a result, the idea of accepting “names only” is usually not met with a lot of enthusiasm. That is unfortunate because making referrals relatively easy will dramatically increase employee participation rates, the number of referrals, and the number of referrals coming from the highly important segment of currently employed individuals who are not in the job market.
If you’re still cynical, remember the children’s hospital example where 25% of all name only referrals were hired. With these dramatic results as an example, you can get extremely high-quality referrals under the “name-only” process if it is designed correctly.
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