How to Win Friends and Influence…Recruitment

Almost every job vacancy at a reputable firm elicits a deluge of resumes. No surprise, given today’s economic climate. How do companies sift through what’s available to find those golden resumes that represent great hires?

Many companies are increasingly using their own workers to accomplish this. This trend, covered in a recent article in The New York Times and in this great post by Dr. John Sullivan, saves companies unnecessary hassle. Instead of recruiters working their way through a barrage of often inappropriate candidates on mass job boards, the process is managed by employees, who often know best what the job entails and who will fit the job culture.

referralsWhile job board usage is slowly trending down, hiring through friend referrals remains solid. A candidate that has been referred by a company employee is 3-4 times more likely to be hired that one who came via a different source. (CareerXroads 2013 Report)

And new anecdotal evidence proves that hires through friend referrals are actually growing. Employee recommendations account for 45% of non-entry-level placements at Ernst&Young, up from 28% in 2010. Enterprise Rent-A-Car reports that the proportion of workers hired through employee referrals has risen from 33% to about 40% in the last two years. (NY Times)

The reasons for companies to join the trend and increase employee referrals are pretty clear. Here are just a few:

  • It’s pennywise. Companies save the cost of advertising jobs on websites and job boards, and paying staff to do preliminary sifting.
  • It saves time, a precious resource for often understaffed HR departments.
  •  Employees, who often have the best understanding of job requirements and know who will fit the company culture, are the perfect people to recommend new staff members.
  • It raises morale. Getting involved helps nurture employees’ ties to their own company. The more employees remain active players in helping solve staffing needs, the more they feel a sense of pride in their affiliation to the company.
  • Referred employees are 15% less likely to quit. (Federal Reserve Bank of NY study)

Beyond these obvious benefits, there is an added twist to employee referrals today. They are different than they were just a decade ago.

Social media networks are changing the way we ‘befriend’ people, widening our circles, increasing diversity and bringing us together – all at the same time. This means that today’s employees are more and better connected than in the past. Where as previous employees networked with people in their own neighborhoods and communities, today’s employee may have hundreds or thousands of diverse connections available to her via social networks.

Social Media Networks: The New Employee Referral Frontier

Companies that leverage social network connections get the best of both worlds. They reach reliable, relevant candidates, on the one hand, and score major company publicity using social media, on the other.

So how do you reach your employees’ connections? Here are a few tips.

1. Generate a buzz. Make sure employees are not just sharing text-based job ads on social networks. Use the opportunity to market your company in creative ways. Pictures, humor, videos, pithiness – these things work especially well on social media.

2. Motivate your employees to share jobs via social media. Create and maintain a really fun rewards program for employees who get involved.

3. Move beyond LinkedIn. Some of the best candidates may be your employee’s friend on Facebook or a member of her circle on Google+. Encourage them to share on all their networks.

4. Listen to your employees. Once they get motivated, to get involved, they’ll have new ideas for finding great hires. Happy employees are a precious resource.

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