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Tap into Your Greatest Resource for Better Hiring

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With such a tight labor market, hiring has become a challenge for companies regardless of size and location. Qualified employees are in hot demand, and now companies are the ones competing. But meeting hiring goals doesn't require spending money placing job ads on an increasing number of job boards or hire expensive recruiting agencies to achieve what you need. In fact, you may already have the best way to reach your ideal candidate, your employees.

An employee referral program makes it possible to tap into this valuable resource. After all, employees already help your company thrive and have a vested interest in seeing it continue to grow and innovate. But, what is an employee referral program? This HR initiative encourages employees to consider friends, family, and other acquaintances as potential co-workers. After all, who better to advocate for your company than someone who already works there.

Whether you need to create a new program, or reinvigorate an under performing one, carefully consider any incentive for employees' recommendations. An incentive should emphasize a company's gratitude towards their employee for helping out in this situation. It should not encourage employees to submit candidates who are not qualified or be a good fit for the company simply to earn a prize.

If your company uses an applicant tracking system (and we highly recommend you do), you will need a referral system that integrates into your ATS. There is nothing more frustrating and damaging to the candidate experience than getting lost in the process. The same is true for employee referrals. If a referral receives an offer, but the employee does not receive the incentive, it can add to employee frustration and even lead to fewer employee referrals. An integrated referral program will help ensure both employees and candidates have a pleasant experience and potentially lead to better referrals.

Additionally, employee referral programs need to be easy to use. Chose software that is intuitive and allows employees to easily share job openings via social media, e-mail, and direct submission. When programs are simple and straightforward, current employees are likely to recommend a candidate, and when applications require only a click of a button candidates are more likely to apply. This creates a smoother experience for everyone involved.

The final step is to educate your employees. An apropos incentive, easy submission process, and excellent follow through only work when employees know the referral program exists. There are two aspects to referrals that you will need to teach your employees. Firstly, how to use the referral program. While this basic information may seem obvious, it isn't enough to simply let them know the program exists. Employees who are familiar with the program are increasingly liable to refer a candidate.

Additionally, employees need to be trained on what skills or traits are important to the company. Not every position requires the same skill set or even hard skills vs soft skills. It is important for employees to understand whether a position requires interpersonal communicate or extensive knowledge of specific software.

Your workforce is one of your greatest assets, and they have a deep investment in seeing the company succeed. When an employee shares an open position, recognize the effort with an appropriate incentive, follow through with employees and candidates during the hiring process, and create an easy system for recommendations and applications. Approximately 29% of referrals receive an offer, and those referrals have a 46% retention rate (much higher than others). Employee referrals are likely to reach passive candidates that you may not have had any other way of reaching. And, finally, a referral program can inform your knowledge of company morale. An active program can indicate a higher employee satisfaction. Make the most of your greatest resource and invest in your employee referral program.            

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