This Is What People Who Provide Employee Referrals Are Thinking

Feb 15, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

To hire exceptional talent through referrals, you have to develop empathy with referrers.

Referrals are known to be the No. 1 source for hiring. Companies that hire through referrals, and execute referral programs that extend not just to their team but also in their community, are winning the war for talent.

Referring someone for a new gig might seem obvious if you’re in the recruiting industry, an avid networker, or in dealmaking. You make intros all the time. It’s no big deal.

But for a lot of us, referrals can be very personal, anxiety-inducing, and time consuming. Here are some thoughts that a referrer has that are worth addressing when implementing a referral program.

What They’re Thinking When You Ask: “Hey, Do You Know Someone Good?”

  1. I have a lot of other problems to solve in my job right now; is this part of my job? If I don’t come up with someone, will that affect my performance review? If I do come up with someone will that affect my performance review?
  2. I want to help, but to really find some people I’ll have to go through my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter … oof.
  3. If I try to help the recruiting team and my friend Sarah by making a connection but it doesn’t work out, will I be seen as less qualified?

What They’re Thinking When You Say: “Could You Introduce Us to Sarah?”

If the referrer doesn’t feel comfortable making an introduction, this can be very stressful, especially if they’re an employee at your company.

  1. If I don’t make the introduction, will that give me a reputation of being “unhelpful”?
  2. I think that Sarah is a good candidate but don’t have a strong enough relationship with her to make the introduction. How do I communicate this?
  3. I can make the introduction, but I’m worried that if Sarah gets rejected then she will be upset at me.

What They’re Thinking After the Introduction Is Made

  1. What’s the status of Sarah’s candidacy?
  2. How else can I help when Sarah comes in for the interview?
  3. Is someone making sure that Sarah’s experience is really good with the company?
  4. Is it appropriate for me to help Sarah prepare for her interview by giving her a high-level overview about my interview experience?
  5. Will my referral be kept confidential to make sure that in case Sarah’s not looking for a job, her current employer doesn’t find out about it?

What They’re Thinking After Sarah Gets an Offer

  1. How can I help convince Sarah to join? She’s really good.
  2. When does Sarah start? What position will she be in, and who will be her mentor?
  3. It would be nice to get some credit for referring Sarah.

If you want to create a great referrer experience and a sustainable, successful, referral program, you have to make sure that you have a good way to communicate with your referrers to put them at ease, and make it super fast, easy, and fun for them to refer their friends.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.