Your Employee Referral Program: Not a process, but an opportunity

Your Employee Referral Program: Not a process, but an opportunity

Tawfiq Abu-Khajil
July 11, 2024
2 min read
What is an employee referral program?
A strategic initiative where employees recommend potential candidates for job openings, leveraging personal networks. It aims to enhance recruitment by tapping into existing staff connections, often offering incentives for successful referrals.

The way TA leaders approach employee referral programs can significantly impact their effectiveness. 

Oftentimes, leaders in talent acquisition view employee referral programs as mere processes, while their counterparts in marketing recognize referral programs as opportunities and hence approach consumer referral programs with a different mindset. 

In this article, we'll explain why it’s crucial to shift the perspective on employee referral programs from being a process to being an opportunity.

Shifting the Mindset, why? 

When looking at the Employee referral program as a process, you end up assessing the program based on whether the process itself is working. For instance, if my employees can refer someone, my recruiting team can track those, and my HR/Payroll team can make payouts, referrals are working. While the process is important, it takes away from what really matters: the results and expanded benefits the program can achieve. 

In the marketing world, for instance, little attention is given to the process itself, and the majority of the efforts are focused on the opportunities and results that can stem from referrals. 

Capturing Leads

Most organizations today have their employee referral process via the “How did you hear about us?” application field. The issue with this process is that it only captures candidates who have already applied. But what about all the candidates that were told about the job, simply visited your job description, glimpsed through the description and didn’t apply – you never captured their information for re-engagement.

A referral program, when approached as an opportunity, becomes a powerful lead generation engine. This is why, in the marketing world, leaders have understood the importance of capturing leads and have built their referral process in a way to capture interested leads without requiring them to submit a full application. 

It is with this mindset that you’ll have to approach your Employee Referral Program. Which brings me to my next point. 

Your Referral Process

If you look at most consumer referral programs, they're built around 2 main pillars. First, making it extremely easy for the referrer to share a unique referral link and second, making it extremely simple for the referred individual to express their initial interest with a short process.

The issue with most employee referral programs is that they are not built this way. It’s either a long form that the referrer (aka employee) has to complete – or a full application that the referred individual has to submit. 

Looking at it from a marketing lens, your employee referral process needs to allow your employees to generate a unique referral link – which they personally share with their friend – and which then allows their friend to provide basic contact information to your organization, without having to submit a full application. An example of such a platform would be Eqo

This allows you to increase referrals while simultaneously capturing referral leads. 

This ties to the next point. 

Building Relationships with Passive Candidates

Marketing leaders recognize the pivotal role of generating leads through referral programs, understanding that this process is not just about immediate conversions but also about nurturing relationships for long-term success. Similarly, the importance of building employee referral programs in the right way cannot be overstated.

By constructing employee referral programs with a marketing mindset, it opens the door to building long-term relationships with passive candidates and helps you build talent pools that you can re-engage with newsletters, events and high-level campaigns – and ultimately convert into hires.

See how Eqo can help transform employee referrals into your powerful hiring engine

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Eqo - Employee Referral Tool