The recruiting profession is blessed with a number of tools for finding and attracting quality candidates. The Internet, social media, telephones, ads in newspapers and magazines, and job fairs are just some of the avenues available to connect us with people in today’s marketplace. What all of these have in common is that they put you in touch with people who know other people. As a result, you might think that most recruiters get lots of referrals.

In polling recruiters over the past few years, I was startled to discover that most indicated that they receive candidate referrals from the people they connect with less than 20% of the time. When asked why, the majority of these recruiters indicated they simply do not ask for referrals as often as they could.


Getting referrals has been an integral part of our business since its inception. It is my belief that the main cause for not getting referrals is that many recruiters have simply gotten out of the consistent practice of asking. In all of the seminars I conducted this year for StaffingU, the overall consensus of each audience is that the problem lies in poor habits and not in people being unwilling to help.


If you have any doubts that asking for and receiving referrals is a natural part of our business, then check out the following five truths about referrals:


1. It is human nature to help others.
Most people take pleasure in helping others. The generous outpouring of support after the earthquake in Haiti or the simple act of opening a door for someone are just a few examples of our common compulsion to offer help.


2. Everyone knows at least 250 people.
In his book, “How to Sell Anything to Anybody,” Joe Girard shows us that each person knows at least 250 people. His proof: 250 or more people is the average attendance at weddings and funerals.


3. Most people take great pride in who they know.
Name-dropping is common in conversations. The key in referrals is to get people to drop names your way.


4. You can get something, at least one thing, out of most conversations.
Referrals, leads on current openings, or information on a company that is downsizing are just a few tidbits you can gain from a dialogue. Everyone you connect with knows something that could be helpful to you.


5. Everyone is an expert at asking for referrals.
Whether it is a referral to a doctor or a tip on a good restaurant, requesting referrals is a normal part of everyday life.


Based upon these truths, the key to getting more referrals is to believe you deserve them and then ask for what you deserve. An easy way to remember this is to “ask early and ask always.” Ask each and every person you connect with a question such as “Who do you recommend I speak with about this opportunity?”


For those of you who are asking, “Isn’t asking everyone I talk with being pushy,” that is a choice that you can make. You can be a pushy recruiter who does not take no for answer. Or you can ask each person you speak with for what you need in a very nice way. Whoever coined the phrase “it doesn’t hurt to ask” rings true when asking for referrals.


My challenge to you is to start asking for referrals from everyone. Just like the muscles in our arms and legs, your referral muscle will get stronger and work more effortlessly the more you use it.

Views: 235

Tags: Scott Wintrip, StaffingU, recruiting, recruitment, referrals, staffing, staffing industry

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 27, 2010 at 12:20pm
i will post a story on this but I will need to tell everyone this really works.

I am here to help you all even though I do not know most of you.

Right as you are giving the offer to the candidate and he is so happy. Ash him to either grab a copy or priny you a copy of his current company roster. 99.5 % of the time they are like sure. Have them bring it with them when they get there offer letter. You now have a map to go get more candidate just like them. Any maybe some new business.
Comment by Daniel Sullivan on September 27, 2010 at 12:28pm
nice post Scott...I agree with your point about this being a habitual behavior that must be defined as expected of recruiters, and then drilled into them as directly beneficial to their productivity. We get paid to find the unfindable, unavailable and reluctant candidates, not just gather those who are easily found via the internet. Too many recruiters are click-jockeys who suffer from severe call-reluctance, and awful phone technique, and therefore avoid the phone @ all costs. The phone is what separates sourcers from headhunters. Get over it and ask for something!
Comment by Scott Wintrip on September 27, 2010 at 4:10pm
Daniel, I love your comment! There should be some form of incarceration for click-jockeys!
Comment by Scott Wintrip on September 27, 2010 at 4:11pm
C.B., I've been handed many company directories in my day from grateful candidates. Kudos to you for bringing that up.
Comment by Daniel Sullivan on September 27, 2010 at 4:45pm
yes: put them in stocks with a headset and a predictive dialer.
Comment by Rayanne on September 27, 2010 at 5:13pm
I have always said, "Never leave a conversation without getting something for yourself." This especially applies to referrals. I have often asked for a candidate referral while I am signing off a candidate that didn't get the job.

If I have been upfront with them, if I have been polite and responsive throughout the process, they are always ready to help me out....

"Given that you now know quite a bit about this job having thoroughly reviewed the job description- understanding what it entails, having spoken with the Hiring Manager- knowing what is expected of the person who fill this role, is there anyone you know of that might be a good fir or could help me get the word out?"

Works every time, but only if the parameters set above have been adhered to.
Comment by Scott Wintrip on September 27, 2010 at 7:05pm
Rayanne, thanks for adding to the conversation. Sounds like you and I are from the same school of thought in that every conversation affords the opportunity to take away something.
Comment by Allen on September 27, 2010 at 8:40pm
Great post Scott, and so true. I am guilty of not always optimizing my referrals as much as I can and continue to endeavor to do so. I believe a recruiter's referral network is becoming more prevalent especially as markets get tighter and job boards continue to provide diminishing returns.

I also agree with Daniel's comment 'We get paid to find the unfindable, unavailable and reluctant candidates'. I think many recruiters don't realize or forget this looking for the easy placement.

I send out bi-weekly job-blasts to my candidate network. I find this to be extremely valuable not only for candidate referrals but I often am contacted by former candidates who are now in hiring positions. Great way to make placements and connect with new clients.
Comment by Scott Wintrip on September 28, 2010 at 7:24am
Allen, I really appreciate your candor. I find that a critical step in self-improvement. Many people who are stuck in their current circumstances keep themselves their because they are unwilling to have your kind of honesty.

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