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How to Use Candidate Referrals to Your Advantage

Ana Maria Brinzoiu


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Great professionals are usually surrounded by other great professionals - this is the tested assumption at the base of Candidate Referral programs. According to Jobvite, 40% of hirings come from employee referrals which count for only 7% of candidates. There is no news that this is a game changer and a mechanism that would solve many problems in sourcing candidates.

We took this assumption one step further and thought that great professionals looking for a change in their careers are also surrounded by professionals curious about new opportunities. And since changing jobs is often a stressful event in one’s professional life, sharing the journey with friends comes almost naturally. 

Indeed the Harvard Business Review has shown that if you give good service and then immediately take the opportunity of asking for a referral, more than 50% of people will recommend you to other prospects. A very impressive figure compared to the 5% of referrals it is estimated you receive when you give good service but do not ask for a referral.

How to set up a candidate referral system:

Choose Who You Are Asking for Referral

You don’t want to trigger unwanted competition between your candidates, therefore you should ask for referrals from the candidates you are not moving forward with. Now it is up to you if you want to apply this system to candidates who rejected your invitation or to the candidates that won’t go past your interviews. Keep in mind that you should always ask for referrals also to other jobs than the one the candidate applied for. We recommend giving them between 3-5 jobs from the same domain or connected domains to recommend for since it will increase your chances of a successful referral. 

Set Up An Automated System

Since we are fans of automations, we suggest you find an automatic way of asking for referrals - an automated email or a form, a specific page in your career site or any other easy solution you can find. This will increase the chances of usage and alse will make sure you don’t add any more unnecessary effort to your process. On Jobful, we implemented an automatic referral page for candidates so that you can send them there at any step of the way. 

Offer An Incentive

Offer candidates an incentive to refer their friends or colleagues. For example, the cost of an iPod Shuffle ($149) as an incentive is a small price for a recruitment agency to pay for a candidate who may result in a $7,500 placement fee. Likewise for corporate employers, an $149 iPod pales in comparison to job advertising costs that can often balloon out into four figure sums.

On Jobful, you can incentivize candidates with special items from our Shop including books, mentoring hours, different types of merch or even tickets to cool events that will also boost your employer brand. 

Follow Up Referrals & Measure Results

In order to decide if this method works for your targeted candidates or roles make sure to always follow up on referrals immediately and measure the progress of those candidates. In order to take an informed decision on this topic we recommend you to take into account the cost of the incentives, the average response time of the candidate, an average of how far in the process these candidates reach and the conversion to hire. 

By building this system with a human centric design through accessibility and incentives that appeal to the targeted candidates, you will most probably build a candidate generator model of referral that can fuel your recruitment projects continuously. Since Jobful is a human centric designed platform that works with human motivators in order to build a better experience for all actors of the recruitment process, we strongly advise you start experimenting with this candidate attraction model.  

Curious how you can improve your recruitment through Jobful? Find more here.

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