Energize your Employee Referral Program

by Staff Writer


An effective, high visibility, regularly evaluated employee referral program is not a mere source of resumes and inquiries. It is a promotional engine that brings interested, qualified candidates to your company via your current employees. Successful employee referral programs that are planned, monitored, and maintained are a powerful recruiting tool.

Does your sourcing strategy include an active and effective employee referral program that brings in ongoing, quality referrals that turn into quality hires? Do you have an employee referral program that gets consistent attention and creates awareness of your openings and company culture? Do you have a written candidate sourcing strategy that includes employee referrals?

These are the questions you should be asking if you want the most cost-effective sourcing tool as part of your recruiting strategy.

CareerBuilder presents some compelling facts about employee referrals in “Referral Madness: How Employee Referral Programs Turn Good Employees into Great Recruiters and Grow Your Bottom Line”:

  • 69% of employers have formal employee referral programs
  • Employee referrals are the #1 source of hire
  • 82% of employers say employee referrals generate the best return on investment
  • 88% of employers say employee referrals produce the best quality new hires

To create and maintain the most effective employee referral program that does all that, you need to plan for employee referrals, promote your employee referral program, and develop an amazing employee and candidate experience. The bonus? Your employee referral program helps build your company culture!

Plan for Employee Referrals

Don’t let your employee referral program fall flat, sit in limbo, fall by the wayside, or be a weak program that no one uses. Put the employee referral program objectives in writing, assign its administration to someone in particular, and make sure everyone in your company knows about it with regular communications and promotion.

Promote Your Employee Referral Program

Actively promote your employee referral program to drive participation.

  • Make it a central part of your sourcing strategy and recruiting processes.
  • Develop attractive branding with a memorable program name, logo, message, and branded giveaways at kickoff and during urgent recruiting campaigns.
  • Build in as rich an incentive plan as possible with referral bonuses, prize drawings, and a recognition component so employees know you are thankful for their participation and contributions.

An Amazing Employee and Candidate Experience

Use your employee referral program to create an amazing candidate and employee experience.

  • Announce employee referral hires at company and department meetings, in newsletters, on your company’s intranet, and to customers and vendors.
  • Be as generous as possible with employee referral bonuses, awards, and recognition to generate pride in participation and keep referrals coming in. Remember the employment advertising and employment agency fees you are saving with referral hires and pass some of that along to participants.
  • Keep in contact with referred candidates from your employee referral program. Give a referral gift whether you hire them or not. Send them newsletters or email campaigns that provide some value such as industry news or information about careers at your company and training and certification resources.
  • Ensure every contact with referred candidates is positive so even if they aren’t hired, they go back home and into the community and say good things about your company.

Use It to Build Your Employer Brand

Use your employee referral program to build your employer brand.

  • Take your employee referral program marketing materials to on-campus recruiting events and job fairs and talk about how you reward employees for helping build the company with referrals.
  • Incorporate social media into your employee referral program with automated software such as JobVite that encourages sharing job openings with social networks.
  • Track employee referral hires and let everyone know how many new hires are referrals.

An active, effective employee referral program is a recruiting tool that generates the best return on investment and the best quality new hires. Plan to reward your employees for bringing candidates to you.

About the author: Andrew Greenberg has over 17 years of experience in Talent Acquisition.  Industry-educated with a Master’s Degree in Personnel Psychology, Andrew draws upon a background that is rich with experiences from both Corporate and Agency staffing environments.

He is the founder and Managing Partner of The Recruiting Division, a leader in U.S. based RPO-style recruitment solutions.  Learn more about The Recruiting Division.



There’s a great deal of misinformation about what sources work for hiring and where you should invest your energy and resources. Want to learn the truth? Watch this 60-minute webinar to learn insights and statistics on where folks are finding their best hires. View the webinar and its slides below:

View Webinar

Related Links:

3 Tips to Improving the Candidate Experience

Setting the Foundation for a Successful Recruiting Strategy

5 Best Practices for Hiring Independent Contractors

Amazing Stats and Charts About Candidate Sources for 2013 

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