Leveraging Your Organization’s Top Talent and New Talent for Talented Referrals

How successful is your Employee Referral Program (ERP)? What percentage of your total number of Top Talent hires come from your program? How are you driving your Top Talent to refer other Top Talent to your organization? These are all questions we need to continue to ask ourselves if we want our ERP to continue to provide new Top Talent to our organization. The 3rd question I pose is the most critical – how do we drive Top Talent within our organization to refer and recommend Top Talent in other organizations? Top Talent is our goal and an effective ERP should be measured on the programs ability to source new Top Talent to our organization.

We know that an effective Employee Referral Program can be the most efficient and lucrative talent sourcing pipeline for organizations. In my experience, I have seen more ERPs fail then be successful. But how do we define success when it comes to ERPs?  Most organizations spend a lot of time and money on launching their programs with great pomp and ceremony only to have the marketing of the program dwindle after the first few weeks and months and the program quickly becomes forgotten by their employees. Other organizations will continue to push the program to all of their employees increasing the resume flow of warm bodies and good talent coming through this sourcing pipeline. But isn’t our main goal as Recruiters to source great talent? What separates a great Recruiter from a good Recruiter is simply the ability to recruit great hires versus good hires.

To enhance our ERPs we need to acknowledge a couple of key principles which I continue to observe within our industry:

1. Top Talent will refer other Top Talent.

2. New Hires have access to a Top Talent pool of candidates from their previous organization.

As Recruiters we need to increase our focus on these two principles. We need to become more aggressive when it comes to our ERPs and sourcing top talent within the talent marketplace.

If Top Talent within our organization will refer other Top Talent then we should be sitting down with our Top Talent on a regular basis and solicit them to be our Recruitment Champions within the external talent marketplace. They likely have access to talent pools they aren’t even aware of. Not only is their current networks of friends and acquaintances a potential goldmine of talent but they are hopefully active in growing and building onto these networks via associations or even external training seminars. We need to be coaching them to think like Recruiters and to always be on the lookout for new Top Talent throughout their daily activities.

New Hires are also a great source of Top Talent. Think of the information they have the ability to provide to us including the Top Talent details from their previous employer(s) as well as access to a new network of potential referrals. New Hires should have a great relationship with Recruiters who have helped nurture them throughout the hiring process. There is a bond New Hires feel with Recruiters and we need to leverage this bond to further our Top Talent agenda. Don’t be afraid to sit down with New Hires within their first few weeks on the job and solicit names and warm leads of referrals. New Hires will also be able to provide referrals of past colleagues across a number of different job streams so if the New Hire is a Marketing Manager, don’t limit your questions to other marketing related positions – chances are great they have access to contacts outside of marketing including sales, finance, etc.

Referrals are just the beginning. It is still up to us as great Recruiters to effectively utilize these referrals and place them into our pipelines of potential Top Talent. Even if our Top Talent or New Hires have provided us with just a list of names, great Recruiters are able to initiate, build and maintain a relationship with these new candidates until the right opportunity becomes available.

And don’t just limit referrals from your own employee base, successful headhunters also use candidates for referrals to grow their pipelines. There are numerous ways to leverage your Employee Referral Program into an even better Top Talent sourcing pipeline.


Simon Parkin is the Practice Leader for Recruitment and Talent Management at The Talent Company – www.thetalent.co     Simon is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition and management of top talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon works closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices.  Simon’s full profile can be found at http://ca.linkedin.com/in/simonparkin1


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