Turn Your Staff into an Unstoppable Recruiting Force

When it’s time to start hiring, the people who really know your company and industry -“ your employees -“ are the best source of candidate recommendations. But participation in traditional employee referral programs is extremely low, even if you offer incentives for successful hiring recommendations. Here’s how to turn your staff into an effective recruiting team.

1. Change the question. Most employers ask, “Whom do you know who would be a good fit?” The majority of employees won’t personally know someone with the right qualifications, so their participation in the effort stops right there. Change the question to, “Whom do you and your friends know?” This broadens the pool of potential candidates and allows all employees to participate.

2. Leverage social media. Employees’ social media networks contain a treasure trove of relevant skills data -“ all of it just a few clicks away. Use smart social recruiting tools that match job descriptions with potential candidates’ qualifications. Find a technology solution that allows employees to effortlessly identify and forward relevant recommendations from within their social networks. The easier you make it, the higher the participation rate.

3. Widen the circle -“ offer referral rewards to trusted non-employees too. Employees are an obvious source to recommend qualified candidates since they know your business and industry well. But don’t forget other great sources, such as former employees, suppliers, vendors and partner organizations. A referral program that leverages these sources as well as employees can deliver more qualified candidates, and there’s no reason not the “spread the wealth” if they help you. Traditional referral rewards programs only offer rewards to employees, but smart referral programs let employees share the rewards with friends that help bring in candidates that get hired.

4. “Gamify” your referral program. Most referral programs only reward the few employees whose recommendations result in a hire. That leaves out everyone else who tried to help -“ and their efforts are important too. Introduce some friendly competition into the process by making a game of it. Use a leader board where employees and departments can see where they stand in terms of referral volume, and reward those who are active in the program with points or small prizes like movie tickets.

Hiring decisions are among the most important calls you’ll make as a business leader. You can’t make the best hires without a solid pool of qualified candidates. When you leverage the collective contacts of the people who know your company and industry best, use social media tools to make recommendations quick and easy and create incentives that encourage everyone to actively participate, you’ll be well on your way to making the right hires.

Ziv Eliraz is founder and CEO of Zao, the company redefining social hiring. Prior to Zao, Eliraz hired and lead the U.S. team of Infolinks out of Palo Alto, Calif., and was responsible for all the revenue streams of the company, including agency sales, performance ads and strategic alliances. He can be contacted at www.zao.com.