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5 minute read

How to Make the Most of Your Referral Scheme

What’s the best way to find and retain good candidates? According to studies it’s not trawling through LinkedIn, advertising online or actively networking – it’s referrals. Referrals are proven to produce better, happier workers; happier workers means improved candidate retention and the cycle continues – so how do you go about getting the most out of your referral scheme? Take a look at my top tips to get you started!

referral.fwIncentivise your referral scheme

Gifts and prizes may have some effect on increasing referrals, but it’s difficult to come up with something that will appeal to everyone. Tailoring gifts to specific people or departments within your company makes things tricky and much more time consumptive than is necessary. The answer is cold, hard cash! 

Budget your rewards 

You’re settled on a cash incentive, but how much? In business terms you want to get away with as little as possible – equally, setting up a referral scheme with nothing but a shiny pound coin to tempt candidates in is going to get you nowhere! Think about the industry you are in, the average salary levels you’re recruiting for and then ensure your incentive is large enough to encourage action. That may be £250 for low-level roles or £1,000 for the most in demand candidates. 

Be transparent with your candidates 

This one’s pretty straightforward – you don’t want a candidate having a bad experience with your referral scheme; bad news travels faster than good. Avoid this by ensuring all details regarding your referral scheme are transparent and clear; if you can fit basic details in a couple of sentences that’s even better. 

Have clear rules to your referral scheme 

Whilst the idea of a referral scheme seems simple, thought must be put into the rules surrounding it. Try and align rules of the scheme with the terms of business you have with your clients – for example, if you’ve agreed to refund fees if candidates don’t remain in roles for 6 months or less, your referral scheme should only pay out once the referred candidate has been in post for 6 months. Without a designated timescale for pay outs you risk candidates playing the scheme and moving between roles, not only costing you fees but damaging your relationships with clients too.

Reward successful referrers

Make sure your referrers know you’re thankful for their hard work – think about setting extra incentives for numerous referrals in a designated time; maybe 5 referrals in 12 months could earn dinner for 2 at a swanky local restaurant in addition to the scheme’s cash incentive, 10 referrals in 12 months could earn a weekend away! Know the candidates in your market and tailor these extra prizes to them just as you did for your original cash incentive.

Make a game of it

A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone! Build referrals into the performance indicators of your staff. This will work to advertise your brand because your recruiters will make a point of telling candidates in the market you have a referral scheme, increasing applicants to your scheme and in turn improving conversion rates and upping bill rates. Think about setting targets surrounding this – competition between contract and permanent departments is a good start!

Have you already got a successful referral scheme set up? Post about it in the comments below!

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About the Author: Barclay Jones founder Lisa Jones helps recruitment leaders and marketers set ROI-led goals and use digital marketing strategically.

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