By Rachelle Arnold, Vice President of Customer Experience, Staffing Referrals

You probably know how much of a difference a recommendation can make in the hiring process, especially if it’s from someone in your company’s network. Nearly one in four employees found their current job through a referral, according to the latest State of Staffing report, and nearly the same amount expect to get their next job this way.

Staffing agencies also see the value of referrals, rating them as one of their most effective lead sources for new candidates. But this success doesn’t happen overnight — it takes careful thought and planning to tap into the power of referrals and develop a program that continually delivers exceptional candidates.

Whether you’re new to referrals or want to take your existing referral program to the next level, these best practices will help you generate more high-quality referrals faster.

Do your research

Before you get too far in the planning process, set aside time to do some homework.

Start with your audience. Think about the messaging, benefits, and values that your candidates respond to and use that to inform your referral program. Depending on your candidates’ preferences, you might want to adjust bonus amounts, program terms and conditions, and how you promote your program. For example, if your candidates mostly gravitate toward short assignments, you probably won’t want to require six months of work before awarding referral bonuses.

And don’t forget about your competition. Dig in and find out what makes your competitors’ programs successful — is it the value of their incentives, the language they use to engage their network, or something more? And what’s unique about your company that might encourage more people to refer candidates to you instead (like your great recruiters, higher pay rates, or fast response rates)?

Set measurable goals

Without goals, it’s hard to know how successful your program really is. So decide early on what you want your new referral program to accomplish. Think about where your current methods fall short and what improvements a solid referral program could bring to the game.

For example, you might want to bring in an additional X qualified candidates a month, increase program participation by X%, or cut down the time from job posting to onboarding by X days.

Get recruiters on board

Your recruiters will make or break your referral program. So it’s a good idea to equip them with tools and training to help them make the most of their existing candidate pool.

To keep everyone on track, set specific referral goals for each recruiter and review their progress each week. You may also consider creating some friendly competition by gamifying these goals and incentivizing success.

Above all, make sure your recruiters are kind to every applicant regardless of qualifications or fit. Even if they don’t get the job, candidates who love working with your recruiters will be more likely to refer their friends to open roles in the future. 

Automate and integrate

You’ll find it much easier to get buy-in from your recruiters if your referral program generates more leads without generating more work. This is where an automated referral management (ARM) platform comes in handy. ARM automates some of the tedious manual tasks of the referral process — like outreach and tracking, email and text sequences, and social posts — so your recruiters can spend more time nurturing relationships.

Integrating your referral software with your ATS is another way to simplify things for your recruiters. This allows them to do most of the program management through your ATS, rather than logging into another program. Staffing software integration also centralizes all your candidate data, so no referrals fall through the cracks.

Promote your program everywhere

So you’ve got your program up and running and have posted all the details on your website. Now how do you get people to sign up and start sending you referrals?

Every channel of communication your team uses to connect with candidates is an opportunity to share your referral program:

  • Plug a link to your referral program into your team’s email signatures.
  • Add referral language into your call scripts.
  • Use text templates that ask candidates for referrals.
  • Promote your referral program on social media.
  • Add referral links into your onboarding emails. 
  • Ask for referrals after you get a positive review.
  • Add a page about your referral program to your website.

And don’t forget to invite everyone you interview, or have interviewed in the past, into your referral program. This can be a great way to keep those candidates engaged and turn them into brand ambassadors.

As VP of Customer Experience at Staffing Referrals, Rachelle helps staffing firms grow by implementing automated referral management. She has 6+ years of experience in the staffing industry. Prior to joining Staffing Referrals, she was the Director of Recruitment at a large healthcare staffing firm, where she held many roles including overseeing and leveraging Staffing Referrals to accelerate their current referral program.