<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2059727120931052&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Employee Experience

Now That’s What an Employee Referral Program Should Look Like!

September 9, 2014
4 min read
Performance-Management-Megabundle-IMG (1)

Performance Management, Supercharged


Year after year, employee referrals top the charts as the highest external source of hire. A Jobvite study of over 50 companies, some of which have over 200,000 employees, revealed that about 40% of all hires come from referrals. That’s a pretty astounding statistic, but what’s more impactful is that only 7% of total applications received come from referrals. Hopefully you see what we see –a whole lot of potential. 

That mere 7% of applicants represent the following opportunities for companies:

          -   Referrals are hired faster, with the average time to start at 29 days (Click to Tweet)
          -   Referred employees stay longer, with 47% staying with the organization for over 3 years (Click to Tweet)
          -   70% of employers believe that referred employees fit the company culture better (Click to Tweet)
          -   8.6 out of 10 survey respondents believe that referrals are the #1 source for quality candidates (Click to Tweet)
          -   51% of companies said that referrals are cheaper to recruit (Click to Tweet)

Now imagine if you could increase that 7%, even slightly. The conversion rate for referred employees is so high, that even a small increase has the potential to create a big impact. Here’s how… 

Expand Your Referral Pool

It’s called an employee referral program, but it should be called a retiree, friends and family, alumni, client, vendor and customer referral program. Thought leader Dr. John Sullivan has coined a phrase for this expanded referral pool, calling it a Friend of the Firm referral program.

“A FOF program will dramatically expand the number of individuals who are acting as 24/7 talent scouts for your firm. This increased number of talent scouts is especially important for startups and small firms that simply don’t have very many employees to look for or vet referral.”

Anyone who understands the company culture and vision, and who might have a vested interest in the company is a great candidate to be included in your referral pool. Think of it this way, the average person, age 35-44 has 277 Facebook friends. That is just one age group and just one social network. Expanding your pool by a little can increase your reach exponentially.


We know, you’re already giving out Starbucks gift cards --what more could employees want? A lot. Incentives have to mean something to your referral pool.

Let’s say that Debbie is the wife of a valued, long tenured employee. She is a great candidate to be a part of your extended referral pool, but her motivation to participate is going to be different. Let’s say that there is some vacation time in it for Debbie’s husband if she makes a successful, quality referral. Even a couple of days off are of little cost to the organization, and this is a huge motivator for Debbie.

Really concentrate the individual motivators, and you’ll start to see your referral pool kick into gear. Need to sell the higher-ups on incentives like this? The low cost, high returns of employee referrals speak for themselves.


Everything is going mobile, and your referral program should be no exception.

“Since mobile capabilities streamline the way you live -- especially when you want information quickly and easily -- it only makes sense to apply the same concepts to your hiring strategy, particularly your employee referral program. Although mobile is a relatively new recruitment strategy, your employee referral program will suffer if you fail to integrate its capabilities.” - Ziv Eliraz, Founder and CEO of Zao

Your referral pool needs to be able to make referrals and connections on the go. This means you should (for several reasons) have a career site that is mobile optimized, a mobile referral portal that is open to your entire pool (not just employees), and a mobile friendly application process. Basically, you need a full-package, mobile-ready referral program.

The returns of quality referrals are going to be well worth what you put into your program. Again, a small increase in referrals can translate to a significant increase in successful hires. Expand your pool, get real with incentives and offer mobile capabilities, and you will surely see that 7% of referred applicants increase.

Let’s talk about how to improve your employee referral portal, to see those increases. Contact us today.

New Call-to-action



Applicant Tracking Made Simple

The easiest-to-use ATS software you’ll find, designed to support a remote hiring strategy.

Schedule Your Demo