Referrals are Great.... BUT....

 Over 30 years in recruitment and yes I’m a big fan of referral programmes and below are some links to some of my “best of” recruitment referral blogs and articles.

Today, new social media referral programmes are being built that utilize the power of an individual’s network. The rise and potential of referral programmes knows no bounds... but a cautionary tale.

When I worked in the Recruitment Advertising Agency world every so often a client would ask for an “update” of page 128 of the company handbook which covered the Referral Scheme. This also normally involved some internal communications campaign.

So the cautionary tale, I once sat at a meeting with 5 Heads of Engineering Divisions for a major PLC the aim was to discuss the launch of the new programme. In we ploughed, the room went quiet and the answer came, “Why would we recommend any of our friends to this company?”!!! It transpired that over the previous year the business had “downsized”, staff at all levels of the organisation were feeling low and worse still they were not convinced about the future of the company under the then management.

So, yes I believe in referral programmes but remember these things;

  • If engagement is low will your staff want to recommend their friends to the organisation – in a much “disengaged” world this is a big issue.
  • If your “recruitment process” (hate the word process) is poor and delivers a bad candidate experience, why would someone want to put a friend through it?
  • Using a member of staff’s  social network is not the same as them referring a “friend”, our networks extend far and wide these days and I would almost treat the use of “networks” in a more of a marketing way not a “referral” way.
  • Always support any launch with an internal comms campaign and, if you can, try to “revamp” your current referral programme at the same time you are doing any “engagement” projects.
  • Referrals happen when you work them, my sense is that in the US where the percentage of referrals is much higher than in the UK, In-House recruiters “work the schemes much harder”

So these are my takes but see some great content I’ve seen and read on the subject of referral programs.


Referrals on the Rise at eBay as it Ponders How to Handle Pipeline


10 Compelling Numbers That Reveal the Power of Employee Referrals


Social Media Driven Referrals


The Complete List of Employee Referral Program Best Practices (Part 1 of 2)



The Complete List of Employee Referral Program Best Practices (Part 2 of 2)


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