To attract the best candidates – try employee referrals?

From his seat as a founder at at and, Tony Restell tells me he has seen first hand the impact of social technology on the changing hire market for companies trying to hire as well as the recruitment industry. To keep pace with these changes, research is showing that employers should take an active look at how they manage employee referral schemes (the ‘phone a friend’ about the job vacancy).

Back in the 1990s, traditional recruitment involved getting the most zingy eye catching newspaper advert to attract people with organisations also relying on recruiter databases of active job seekers to track down the best person. Since then, the impact of online job boards, company websites and social media has been to turn upsidedown the way companies hire.

HR recruiters can now identify and communicate with candidates more directly – they can also gather value intelligence through the way candidates interact with their website, follow their company etc.  They can also target the passive candidate market (i.e. people not actively looking) through Linkedin, Google + and other direct sources.

The key resulting business benefit of this technological advance is that employers can now expect to interview people who have a 95% fit with their job profile (compared with a typical 70% less than ten years ago).  All without shelling out for expensive advertising or agency fees.  The cost of hires is going down and quality of hires is going up.

Still, the growing presence of social media places significant information management demands on the HR recruiter, especially in a smaller business.

Recent research has evaluated the various online recruitment channels that are now available. By far the most successful use of social media channels is employee referral – that is asking your employees to use their social networks to attract potential new recruits.

Employers have found that this route is generating the highest quality candidates as there is a bigger network of contacts than even the most connected, social media savvy HR recruiter can generate.

A key new challenge that this generates for employers is making sure than employees would recommend the organisation to their friends, they know what you are looking for and that they are ‘on brand’.  As with much social media, effective employers are managing their employer brand in this new connected space.

So three things to ponder if you’re looking to attract the best fit candidates

  • how can you make sure your employees would recommend you as an employer?
  • how can you make it easy for employees to contact their friends with the right messages about what you offer as an employer?
  • do you have an employee referral scheme that incentivises employees to refer that fabulous, talented friend?