4 Easy Steps To Employee Referral Success

Thought about streamlining your Employee Referral Program lately?

With the proliferation of social media, your company is likely already looking at ways to leverage Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for recruiting.  If you can get your employees active on these sites, where their personal and professional networks live, it can be a great source of candidates and ties in perfectly with your employee engagement and advocacy initiatives.

Giving employees a simple set of tools to help make and encourage referrals can go a long way towards increasing the number of referrals you get, and your ability to better manage these referrals through their lifecycle.

Here are the top 4 criteria to consider when evaluating your Employee Referral Program:

1.  Set up a web-based portal

Instead of allowing employees to share their referrals with you in whatever way they think is best, setting up a centralized portal makes it easy for everyone – all referrals will be consistent with the data your recruiters need, employees will be able to track the referrals they’ve made over time, and you’ll get reporting on overall referral activity.

To set up your portal, you can use a document-collaboration solution like Box or Dropbox, or Sharepoint if you have it.  Of course there are vendors who specialize in providing portals specifically designed to manage employee referrals, a good list of options is available via the HRTechAdvisor website.

2.  Integrate with your ATS

To get the most out of your portal, ideally you’ll integrate it with your applicant tracking system.  This way, referrals can be submitted through the portal, but immediately sent to your ATS so your recruiters don’t have to manage candidates in two places.

With an integration, you can also pull a feed of your job posting into the portal, directly from your ATS, so employees can attach referred candidates to a specific job/location when submitting them. Doing this will also give employees the ability to share jobs on social media and through email to attract new referrals.

3.  Provide candidate status updates

Another crucial component of a successful employee referral program is communication with employees – keeping them updated (ideally in real-time) on the status of their candidate submissions.

Likely your recruiting team is already doing this manually, responding to inbound calls and emails from employees seeking updates – a time consuming and frustrating endeavor for your recruiters, no doubt.

Integration with your ATS will give you the ability to pull status updates on candidates and share those via email notifications to the referring employee as soon as the status is updated in the ATS.  You can even customize which specific statuses you want your employees to see and not see, and taking it a step further, send out email notifications to the referred candidates as well.
These email notifications keep employees in the loop at all times, and will no doubt significantly reduce the inbound correspondence your recruiters get from employees asking for updates.

4.  Focus on reporting in your ATS when possible

It’s likely that your ATS has a solid business intelligence/reporting component, especially if you are using an enterprise vendor like Taleo or iCIMS.  Do what you can to take advantage of this reporting, specifically around inbound candidate source (employee referral).  You can use this data to determine the volume of referrals you are getting relative to other sources (job boards, internal applicants, etc.) and see what kind of conversion rates your referrals are generating into hires.   You may also be able to leverage this data to better understand your total cost-per-hire by channel/source.

You can look for unique reports that couldn’t exist in your ATS because the data isn’t there- for example, reporting on total referral volume and success by department or location over a given period of time, and of course, drilling down to the specific employee level for details metrics.


Updating your employee referral program is an easy way to tap into the low-hanging fruit of your extended talent network.  Motivating employees to take the time to participate is always a challenge, but the easier you make it for them, the more likely they will be to participate.

Posted in Employee Referral Programs

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