‘Who Do You Know?’ Is the ‘Post and Pray’ of Employee Referral Programs

Sep 27, 2013

ere-falllogo-facebookAt the Fall ERE Conference, Sean Rehder and Craig Campbell shared the secrets of their employee referral program. I was excited to see how they had applied some of the same principles that I had used in life insurance sales over a decade ago.

Before I joined the recruiting industry I sold life insurance and investments. I spent many nights sitting across the table from young families and business owners talking about their finance and insurance needs. I learned very quickly that referral business was the secret to success. I also learned that asking, “Who do you know?” didn’t get me very many names. To get more referrals, I had to feed my clients names, ask how well they knew the people, then ask if they would mind if I called and said we had worked together.

During the process, I was assuming they would help me, and in the process, I made it easy for them to do so. This broke down barriers and increased the number of referrals I received from each of my clients.

As to how I got the names I shared with them — if I were meeting a couple at their house, I would look up their neighbor’s names at the local tax office or central appraisal district. If they were business owners, I would ask about people they were pictured with at chamber of commerce mixers or about their competitors (these were my first sourcing activities; I had no idea where it would eventually lead me).

Below are the steps of Sean and Craig’s process:

  1. Start connecting to employees on LinkedIn .
  2. Graph the network of the employees and start mapping their connections. Sean and Craig demonstrated how they added the connections of 125 employees of Dolby Laboratories to their sourcing CRM tool. After completing the process, the team had over 52,000 new leads, which included 10,900 executives, 5,330 engineers, and 2,775 candidates who were in Dolby’s top 10 target companies.
  3. After gathering the names, they introduce the referral network to the employees who are connected to the potential candidates. They ask the employees how well they know them, if they would recommend them as a potential employee, and then ask them how they want the referral to take place.

What Sean and Craig want you to remember about employee referral programs:

  • Talent acquisition must do heavy lifting for the employees.
  • We need to direct-source employee networks, instead of using what they call the referral post-and-pray approach.
  • Pay a small referral bonus to anyone who facilitates an introduction.
  • Give employees multiple options for introductions
    • I will forward a LinkedIn request from the recruiter to the potential candidate.
    • I will provide you with the potential candidate’s contact information.
    • I will email the potential candidate and copy the recruiter.
    • I will call them first, then the recruiter can call them.

So, start using your sourcing team to boost your employee referrals immediately. In the process, be sure to make it easy for the employees who know the candidates you source to help.

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