A trend in recruiting of non-employee referral programs is also called “Friend of the Firm” (FOF) referrals, as nick named by ERE contributor Dr. John Sullivan. Recruiters are really starting to get creative when it comes to broadening their reach in a more targeted way.
With the rise of social recruiting and job boards, many recruiters saw their number of applicants sky-rocketing, and realized that most of the time, quality is going to trump quantity. Bringing in dozens or hundreds of under-qualified applicants is an HR and recruiting nightmare. Furthermore, it is less than ideal for those candidates who actually are qualified but whose resumes end up in a black hole, or mistakenly weeded out by a wonky applicant tracking system.
The shift in recruiting lately has been to focus more on targeting recruiting efforts, and less about seeing how many applications each job listing can snag. That’s where this extension of traditional referral programs comes in.
It is best to include as many people as possible who have some sort of stake or loyalty to the company. People with a real connection to the organization are more likely to take making a referral more seriously, especially if they wish for their opinion to be valued in the future. Dr. Sullivan said:“Although there is some variation, in my experience, you can expect the highest-quality referrals to come from these non-employee groups including board members, former employees, vendors, and family members.”
In order for these programs to work, standard of quality has to be strongly established. Cleary educate your referrer pool on the standards or caliber of referral you are seeking. Don’t just assume that because they are a FOF that they fully understand and appreciate the company culture. Relaying the standards and features of a cultural fit can cut down on the instance of irrelevant referrals. Be clear that quality is far more important than quantity. This will ensure that they aren’t sending too many referrals in, too often, and diluting their own credibility.
Dr. Sullivan also recommends asking the referrer to personally vet the candidate, and be able to stand by their referral. Sullivan said:“FOF referrals can be improved dramatically if you require the referring individual to describe and attest to the superiority of: 1) the work of the individual; 2) their skills; 3) their fit with the company; and 4) that they have sold the individual to the point where they are already willing to accept an interview.”
At this point, the FOF has done a great deal of the recruiter’s job and has potentially found a match for the organization. --What’s in it for them? Rewards should be part of this program. Companies can get 10-30x more referrer engagement from non-employees when a reward is offered. Not to mention, it’s just good form to show value for the favor of a good referral. Showing the referrer appreciation will also encourage them to keep sending those relevant referrals your way.
Here’s an interesting little social media fact: 92% of Facebook users are connected by only 4 degrees. Expanding your referral reach just a little can make a pretty big impact on your talent pipeline. We are all already so interconnected, sometimes it takes a little reach to get talented candidates engaged.