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Finding candidates the old fashion way included picking up your phone, scrolling through your Rollerdeck, calling a candidate and asking "are you interested"? If they're weren't, good recruiters would start networking by asking "who do you know who might be looking to move … or who might have the skills to perform this role?”

Internal teams and corporate recruiters used the "Refer a Friend" model to offer incentives for employees to pass their friends’ CVs to the HR dept. This had limited effect after a number of months as eventually employees have exhausted all their friends (and their friends are sick of being continually asked!) and the business just didn’t push it hard enough. Keeping people involved was one of the biggest issues.

Even as far back as 2012 ere.net published some stats on the power of employee referrals.  But still, the average business is not biting down on this.  For example:

  • Referrals are the number 1 source and number 1 in terms of quality of hire
  • They are faster to place than job boards and careers sites
  • Referred candidates stay in the job longer.

All of these metrics are damned crucial – and ones which the average staffing company measures as part of its standard KPI setup.

Referrals Go Social

Social networks, on the other hand, offer a whole new world of opportunity for an organisation to significantly extend its own and its employee's reach to ideal referred talent.

The "Employee Referral Programme" has exactly the same principle as refer a friend, but technology now plays the part of distributing the vacancy, which is be forwarded around social channels, track who's forwarded it where and log who referred who. Systems such as www.zao.com, Broadbean’s own Broadbean Referral and www.rolepoint.com, to name a few.

 In-House 1, Agency 0

Corporates are getting very good at using this model and these systems. The US-based businesses in particular are better at utilising their employee network to advertise jobs and using employee referral software to track who has referred who.

Their websites on the whole are more geared to internal attraction, whereas often the UK market reserves its internal candidate attraction piece for separate careers sites which are often not intrinsically linked back to the brand itself.

So does this mean employees at your client are doing your resourcer’s job? To a certain degree yes.

Agencies Need to get on Board

My question to agency recruiters is why are they aren't using these systems yet? I am just not seeing enough agency recruiters or staffing companies engaging with social tools to improve referrals.  If they do have a referral scheme it’s aimed at attracting internal talent, and we often get told by our clients that it doesn’t work.  When we quiz them on what their scheme is we find out that:

  • It’s pretty secret – not everyone in the business knows about it.  It’s rarely talked about and certainly not pushed by the management
  • Work for Us pages often have little information on - and often we see “benefits” such as free eye tests (which are free to anyone in the UK already)
  • And on the whole staffing companies are not even considering referral schemes to try and attract external talent.  They prefer to stick to their traditional processes and be the attraction piece themselves, rather than work with the larger community.

Is this example another area where agency recruiters / staffing companies need to wise up and review how the corporates have the march on this?

If the typical agency recruiter needs to improve speed and quality of hire and length of employment, surely now’s the time to get a referral program in the agenda?  2015 could be the year to do this

(Thanks APSCo for publishing this blog.)


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