Employee Referral Push Expands at Growing Texas IT Firm Improving Enterprises

Jan 28, 2013
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 1.15.22 PMA year ago, a company called Improving Enterprises was a finalist in the 2012 ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards. The software developer with then-148 employees had managed to get about 90% of employees from referrals and related programs, like its many onsite get-togethers. Most interestingly, it believed that people who were referred, but who didn’t join the company, had resulted in more than $3 million in additional revenue in the last two years. This calculation includes such things as whether the candidate ended up referring business to Improving Enterprises even though they weren’t hired. More on that $3 million figure in a minute.

Anyhow, that’s all kinda hard to top. The four-person recruiting team led by Gabriela Garza-Ramos told me on a call Friday that, a year later, it has.

Improving (as it’s often called informally within the company) now has 170 employees, and four offices nationwide, one through an acquisition. It says it’s now hiring a higher percentage of people from referrals than a year prior.

One reason for this continued success, Garza-Ramos says, is that she had the in-house IT staff build a better referral system. (I asked why she didn’t opt for one of the gazillion new vendors sprouting up in the referral area; she reminded me that this is a tech firm; indeed, calculations and reports and metrics are in the company’s DNA, including the CEO’s, who has degrees in computer science.) Using SharePoint, it built a tool for keeping track of who has been contacted and when, including not just the candidate but the employee who referred that candidate.

This week, it’s kicking off a new “Two by Tuesday”; the word is spread on Tuesday of key job openings, and people compete with each other as they refer friends and contacts. The company is averaging about 100 referrals per Two by Tuesday.

Improving Enterprises is holding user-group events; imagine, for example, 25 .NET people getting together for food and drinks. Those foods and drinks are paid for by the host. In 2012, 3,000 people attended these events.

The company is hiring more people — more than you see here, because multiple people could be hired to fit one job description. I hear it may make more acquisitions in 2013. Also, Garza-Ramos may hire another recruiter. “We need more bandwith,” she says, “even with the referrals.” Finding bodies is one thing, she says. It’s another to find IT skills, communications skills, the right attitude, and a willingness to go to different client locations; in such a spread-out state, that can take a while in the car.

Back to that $3 million figure I mentioned above — business brought in solely based on people not hired. I asked Improving Enterprises if are there any updates to it, and in a few minutes it came up with figures: $1.2 million was generated from the “not-hired” in 2010; $1.8 million in 2011, and a fresh $3.2 million in 2012.

This is basically new contracts awarded because someone left the hiring process with a good feeling, or at least good enough to tell his or her company that Improving Enterprises is a vendor worth looking at.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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