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Talent Management Employee Engagement Recruiting & Hiring Employee Experience

How to Supercharge Employee Referrals with Goal-Based Jobs

October 24, 2013
4 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


Is your company’s next great hire hiding in plain sight? Within the network of one of your employees just might be the talent you need for your open positions. A 2013 study shows an employee referral program is actually the No. 1 source of outside hires, beating out job boards, social media, and even a company’s own career sites.

While 69 percent of companies have an employee referral program as part of their recruitment strategy, too many companies put this program in place and then move on. This explains why 87 percent of HR managers admitted they needed to overhaul their employee referral program.

If the employee referral isn't aligned with organizational goals, your employees will either ignore the program altogether or end up referring the wrong people. At the heart of both these problems is a lack of organizational transparency.

Either you haven’t communicated to employees the importance of your employee referral program, or they don’t adequately understand what goals the new position will be addressing. So employees either skip the employee referral process altogether, or refer the wrong people because they’re unfamiliar with the goal-based needs of your recruitment strategy.

In fact, while 60 percent of employees are willing to refer talent, only 23 percent actually do so. Those aren’t great odds! You need to start communicating better with your workforce, and increasing organizational transparency is the best place to start.

Allowing your people to see the importance of the employee referral and how the position you’re trying to fill fits into the company’s overall goals will result in better hires. It will also improve your recruitment process and cut out wasted time connecting with the wrong people.

So how can transparency and goal-based language help improve your employee referrals, streamline your recruitment process, and lead to better advertising for your open positions? Let’s look at a few ways:

Equipping Employees With Better Goal-Based Language

Few of your employees will be Renaissance men or women. They might not understand the exact needs of the position you’re recruiting. This can make it tough for them to talk with their talented friends in different industries and explain what your company needs in a great new hire. This can lead to wasted time, as smart workers try to help but instead end up referring the wrong people.

By using goal-based language, you help your current employees understand what is needed for the position, what projects the new hire will tackle, and how this position fits into the overall company. After all, current workers can isolate better fitting employees if they understand how the position aligns with your organizational goals.

For instance, if an employee in marketing knows a great person in the tech field, they might not necessarily understand the job description. But if the job description is goal-based, they can at least understand how the new hire would fit into the organization and will have more specific ways to talk to their talented friend about the position. This can help them select the people in their networks who not only have the skills, but could contribute positively and meet specific goals.  

Cuts Through The Corporate Hierarchy

Goal-based job descriptions can help your employees refer great people and advertise your positions by cutting through the normal organizational chart. Employees are more than just an org chart. By being clear and transparent about how a new hire will fit into workflow towards established goals, you’ll be giving your employees a better understanding of what these people will actually be doing day-to-day.

Instead of looking at the position in relation to who the new hire will be reporting to, a goal-based job description will allow your people to understand what the referred candidate will actually be doing. Aligning goals from the top of the organizational chart all the way to the bottom means everyone is focused on contributing to the company's mission statement.

One bad boss or incompetent manager won't throw the whole chain of command off course, because every employee understands how their contributions add to the company whole. This will help your current workers communicate more than just a fancy title when talking to people who might be great fits for your company.  

A great employee referral program is one of the best ways to improve your recruitment process. This is why you should align job descriptions with goals, allowing your employees to better advertise your open positions and refer the top talent you need every time.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr user Richard Foster

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