Why Becoming An Employee Referral Is The Best Way To Get Hired

By Dr. John Sullivan, who is renowned around the world as a strategist in the field of human resources and talent management

99% of job seekers are outsiders, because they have never been a corporate recruiter. As an outsider, you’re automatically disadvantaged because you can’t know the recruiting secrets that will increase your odds of being selected. The recruiting function is set up much like a bank with numerous security features. So for example, if you wanted to dramatically improve your chances of robbing a bank, you would simply get a bank employee to help you. Well, recruiters also know that the easiest path to getting noticed is also by getting an “insider” to help you become an employee referral.

The numbers show the advantage of becoming a referral 

Becoming an employee referral is a “fast ticket” to getting your resume reviewed simply because referrals are the highest volume source with the highest quality of hire. On average, a full 28% of hires come from referrals and at top firms, it is nearly 50%. In direct contrast, the corporate career site produces only 9.8%, newspaper ads produce only 2.2% and career fairs 1.9%. Do the math. You have a 300% higher chance of getting hired as a referral versus applying on the “black hole” corporate career site. At top firms, amazingly 1 out of 3 referrals are hired, compared to the average hire to applicant ratio from all sources of 1 to 18. Another reason for this high ratio is because referrals are often “tagged” by the recruiting software, to ensure that they are not missed.

Being a referral is also superior because the employee is likely to inquire about the status of their referral, thereby increasing the chances that your resume will be viewed by a recruiter. And if you can be referred by a top performing employee, even better, because some systems give more weight to referrals from top employees. And don’t worry about whether the firm has a program, over 80% of large firms have referral programs and the rest are open to accepting employee referrals.

How to become a referral?

The best way to become a referral is to simply ask an employee to refer you. You will generally encounter little resistance because it costs the employee nothing but a few minutes to enter your information into the referral website. And if you’re hired, they may receive a bonus up to $5,000!

There are numerous ways to find the employees of a target firm but the most convincing one is a face-to-face meeting. The best approach is to meet employees at conferences or by hanging out at coffee shops and restaurants close to the firm’s facility (you can spot them by their corporate ID badge). You can improve your chances by having a great “elevator speech” and a powerful resume that quickly convinces the employee that you would be a perfect fit for the organization and the job. You can also find them on LinkedIn and on other social media but be careful not to be too abrupt. It’s better to build a relationship first and to ask them later to make the referral.

Final thoughts

If you want to play the painfully low odds of the traditional application process, go right ahead. But if you want an insider’s tip from a recruiting expert, skip that frustration and focus on becoming a referral from a top employee!

© Dr John Sullivan 4/17/12

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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