Referral programs have always been an important part of every organization’s talent acquisition strategy. Since members of the workforce themselves can act as brand ambassadors, referrals can go a long way in adding the much-needed trust factor to the entire hiring process. Referrals and social media are a natural match as the network effect of professional or personal links can bring previously passive candidates to light. Leveraging this network effect from social channels has the potential to turn every employee into a treasure trove of qualified talent.

A survey done by JobVite illustrates why using employee referrals as a sourcing medium is better than using other mediums like job boards or career sites. Here are some of the important statistics:

– Close to 40% of an organization’s hires come from referral programs

– Hiring through referral programs is 50% faster than hiring through job boards

– Close to 50% of employees hired through referral programs stay for three years or more

– Emerging Technologies can be used to Optimize Traditional Referral Programs

While referral programs have always produced better quality candidates, their reach has always been a matter of concern. For instance, if an organization is opening a new branch in Minnesota and needs 30 cloud professionals urgently to meet the demands of a new client, it will have to rely on good old job boards to meet that number. Enterprises cannot expect 30 qualified referrals to emerge from a traditional referral program that relies on simple outreach emails, they must broaden their scope and reach candidates via various mediums.

With the emergence of new technologies like artificial intelligence, referral programs can now be designed to reach out to more qualified candidates outside of the company’s internal network. They can be used to invite qualified referrals from different mediums like social media, career pages, and job boards. Based on the resume submissions, recruiter activity, and engagement on each of these channels, enterprise referral programs can be customized to focus on specific titles, departments, and sourcing channels. By using emerging technology strategically, traditional referral programs can be scaled without hurting the quality factor of the talent being reached.

New-age Referral Platforms are Here and Ready to be Used

With technologies like AI and analytics now easily accessible, the scope of referral programs has taken a new dimension. New-age referral platforms like WillHire, iEndorseU, NurseDeck and ReferralCandy are not only stretching the boundary of what constitutes a traditional referral program, they are also producing a talent pool that is as good as any other sourcing channel. These are some of the new features that these platforms offer:

Artificial Intelligence to Invite Qualified Referrals from the Entire Web: Rather than limit referrals to the internal talent pool, the ability to invite referrals from across the web including relevant sources like job boards and social media can broaden the talent pool considerably. Specialized tools like WillHire and ReferralCandy do just that. These tools use artificial intelligence to match job requirements with candidate profiles on various job boards, social media and talent communities to source relevant candidates. The selected candidates are then ranked and targeted with organic and paid social media and email campaigns. Since the candidates are ranked according to their skill-set, expertise and past record, the candidate quality index is never a concern.

ML Algorithms to Reach Silver and Bronze Candidates: It is entirely possible that in the process of trying to source candidates from outside the organization, candidates that previously came close but did not make might be overlooked. Evaluating the organization’s database of previously interviewed employees could unearth candidates that would not have been considered earlier but might now be worth reconsidering. Some of the top referral platforms use ML algorithms to not only segment various candidates (gold, silver, bronze) in the database but also to rank them according to their expertise, interview score and reason for not joining. These candidates can be approached with a fresh perspective, creating a talent pool that is already familiar with the enterprise’s brand and processes.

Create Your Own Talent Community/Careers Page: Launching a specialized web page for temp jobs or creating a talent community on LinkedIn can do wonders for enterprise branding. By posting relevant jobs and content companies can not only encourage engagement but also invite quality referrals from the careers page. Tools like WillHire can help you create SEO-optimized career pages in a matter of minutes.

Analytics to Track Participation and Results: All these efforts are wasted if programs cannot be optimized for user behaviour and be easily usable for them. Tools like WillHire and ReferralCandy not only help to create great referral programs from the scratch but also track recruiter activity, resume submissions, email campaign results, and referrals invited. The results can then be analyzed to target specific employees, jobs, and communities.

There is no doubt that traditional referral programs as they are can act as a great source for talented candidates but if enterprises really want to utilize the network effect that can be leveraged through social and professional networks they must incorporate the latest technology. By creating enterprise talent programs with next-gen platforms like WillHire, referral programs can actually act as a composite enterprise tool with vast possibilities.

Shiraj Kohli

Shiraj Kohli

An Engineer in Computer Science, Shiraj has extensive experience in content marketing, and employer brand strategies. His focus includes tech based hiring methods, employee engagement and retention strategies


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