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Put yourself in a candidate’s shoes: Imagine if you had a close friend working for a company you were considering, providing you with an insider’s perspective. You’d know for a fact that the culture was as welcoming as the career site promised and that employees were as happy as they looked in the videos… even before you applied. Wouldn’t you be more sure of the fit, more likely to apply and more excited to accept the position if it was offered?


Your best employees could be your biggest brand advocates.

If the biggest barrier to applying to a company is knowing what it’s really like, it’s no wonder that employee referral programs are such a strong source of leads and produce the best hires. If you think about it, your employees are your best source for what it’s like to work for your company. And they talk about it – good or bad – with their friends. Their friends are therefore much more likely to understand the ins and outs of your business and what it means to work at your company. If what your employees are saying is great, and their friends are aligned with your value and purpose as an organization, it’s a perfect formula for a referral.


Harness the passion within your walls.

An employee referral program is essential to your recruitment marketing strategy to attract more of the right talent. It uses your strengths (your people) to your advantage more than any other channel in your marketing arsenal. As I’ve said before (and I’ll say it again), people believe people way more than they believe brands. So, we have to find new and elegant ways to involve the people into our recruitment marketing.

At SmashFly, we believe that everyone in our company is a recruitment marketer. Our people tell our story. They tweet our messages. They refer their friends. We know that if we can just harness the passion of the people within our walls, we can win more mindshare of top talent than we can without that passion. But, it must be simple. I mean, our people have big jobs here at SmashFly, so it has to be incredibly easy to engage in referring talent and sharing messages.


Question everything.

Because I am a rabble-rouser who questions nearly everything that the status quo holds near and dear, it’s time to re-think some elements of referral programs. For example:

  • Why are we only paying big sums for hired talent? What if we paid smaller sums for leads? Leads are easier to produce for the people referring talent in. Giving your employees a blank screen to submit names and email addresses from their connections and email accounts is super easy. It’s also a great way to fill your pipeline and your lead database with people who have already been vetted by your own talent. Maybe they’re interested today, maybe not. Either way, you can send those referrals a message that says someone at your company thinks you’re awesome. Who isn’t going to like to get an email reminding them that they’re awesome? Talk about the power of staying in the inbox! Your brand is now associated with positivity and when that person – who knows more about your company because of their friend – has a bad day at work, they’re going to think of you!
  • Why are we letting referrals drop out of our pipeline? Sure, if they aren’t the right fit for the company in general, they should be disqualified. But sometimes the right candidate is just referred to the wrong role, and the right match could be days or weeks away. No matter how you structure your program, it’s important that you consistently communicate with people who are referred into your company. These are friends (i.e., influencers) of your employees. Alienating them is risky because your current employees believe in them. A bad experience (or no experience at all) can end up turning the referral away from your company for good – and make your employee think twice about his or her advocacy the next time around.


Go on, make it happen.

A referral program is a powerful tactic in your recruitment marketing arsenal. It’s time to dust off the old program, look at the metrics and study how we can be more effective at hiring talent and more efficient in engaging employees to drive the right people to your company.

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