If you’ve been in the staffing and recruiting profession for more than 18 months, at least 50% of your candidates and clients should be the result of referrals. And, if you’re not obtaining referrals, chances are it’s your fault.
But, by implementing a structured referral program, you can start increasing the number of referrals you receive. Why should you want to do this? Getting more referrals means beating your competition to top talent…without having to go look for it. You can start increasing referrals by doing the following five things:
1. Demonstrate gratitude for all referrals
Say thank you, show your gratitude and offer a referral fee or gift certificate in return for candidates you place. This also improves the quality of candidates referred. Most clients can’t accept referral fees or gifts, but would certainly welcome a donation in their name to their favorite charity. The donation is a triple win. The charity wins by the donated amount, the client wins because the donation helps them attain their philanthropic goals and you win because your client referrals will dramatically increase.
2. Realize people won’t refer their competition
If you haven’t found a new opportunity for a candidate, the last thing they want to do is provide you with someone who is more qualified and could end up as their competition. Inform your candidates that you will not send their referrals on any positions where their qualifications are a match.
If you are not filling 100% of your client’s requisitions, they may be hesitant to refer a business associate who may have similar needs. Assure your clients that their requisitions will always be your top priority and they will not compete for talent with clients they refer.
3. Create a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) referral program
You must have a simple referral program that is embraced by everyone in your company. The theme should be easy to promote (i.e. Got Friends?). There should be specified times that referrals are requested throughout your working relationship with clients and candidates. Chances are if you’re not attracting referrals, it’s because you’re not asking for them.
4. Promote word-of-mouth advertising
- People like to buy on the approval of others which makes testimonials so valuable.
- Request testimonials from clients and candidates.
- Promote recommendations on your LinkedIn Profile.
- Share testimonials with prospects.
Include testimonials on everything (letters, marketing materials, website, email signature lines and on the back of your business cards) If you had asked every candidate you placed since you started in this profession for a testimonial letter – do you think that would impress future candidates? What about all the clients where you made placements and fills? Make this a relevant part of your comprehensive referral program.
5. Make it easy for candidates and clients to share your information
Social media and the internet have made it possible for thousands of customers to be easily reached by their friends and family members. Just think of all the posts that are shared and emails you receive, that were forwarded to you. Take advantage of this lateral marketing opportunity. Send something out containing valuable information that individuals are going to automatically share. This could include any of the following:
- A company newsletter.
- Blog postings or white papers listing your contact information.
- Blind lists of your current job listings with an article of interest.
- Lists of your most talented candidates with an article of interest.
Pay special attention to writing a relevant subject line that will promote the value of opening and reading the contents of your email or post. The article of interest should address a topic that is relevant and timely to your target audience. You’re also positioning yourself as an expert in the staffing and recruiting profession. Both candidates and clients want to have their interests represented by someone they feel is competent, as well as confident in their ability to help them attain their goals.
Your success is greatly impacted by the candidates and clients you represent. When you create and implement a structured referral program, you will represent the caliber of talent your clients will hire. You will also represent the clients that are most desired by the candidates you represent.