Chris Russell

3 min read


Top 10 Ways to Build a Referral Pipeline

For many recruiting teams, building a candidate pipeline from scratch can be daunting. This is where referrals come in helping to bridge the gap and save you time and energy in your recruiting process. The question is, what is the best way to build a referral pipeline?

Here are our top 10 ideas to build a referral pipeline that will continue to yield results in both the short and long term.

1. Incentivize Your Employees

In a recent study by Careerbuilder, they noted that 82% of employers rated employee referrals above all other referrals and generating the best return on investment. We have also seen that employers also note that an internal referral can reduce their cost per hire by 3k on average.* Overwhelming support shows that employee referrals are of incredible value. The best way to continue to encourage these referrals in your pipeline is with a healthy incentive program that includes a generous monetary carrot.

2. Hone your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Your Employee Value Proposition all comes down to messaging and your brand. People want to know that they are selling/referring to others. Your brand message should be authentic, easy to understand and personable. Hone your message and value proposition so that you communication stream to the market and to your top referrers is crystal clear.

3. Make It Simple

No matter the source of your referral, don’t make the process difficult. Invest in technology and systems that create a seamless, mobile-friendly submission process. Less is more. Remove obstacles in the referral process and watch your submissions soar.

4. Support Mobile-First Recruiting

In line with making your referral process simple is the next greatest step- making all of your recruiting and content messaging mobile-first. Our lives are on the go and in the moment. A mobile-first recruiting strategy includes partnering with vendors that share this same philosophy and have created user-friendly mobile applications to streamline your referral process.

5. Communicate Frequently

Communicate often and on a frequent basis. Depending on your needs, this could be 5 times a week and others once a week. Figure out what works best for you, but keep it fresh and frequent. One of the best ways to reach your referrers and build the pipeline is through a strategic texting strategy. We know that more people check text than any other medium of communication. Start here and then grow.

6. Personal Touch

While it’s great to have a lofty and relatable employment brand, people want to know what’s in it for them. Allow your messaging, your email and text campaigns, and your social strategy to relate to your ideal candidate persona. Make it as personal as possible when reaching out. While the person you reached out to may not be the best fit, they will be more likely to refer a person within their network to you that is the perfect fit.

7. Tap Former Employees

While research shows that employee referrals are the pinnacle of a quality hire, the next in line would be your former employees. Harnessing the vast networks of your alumni who have lived and breathed the roles and the culture is crucial. Create alumni networking groups and allow them to work on your behalf to submit candidates that are more than likely a solid fit.

8. Energize Your Talent Community Members

Whether you have built a talent community through social, a CRM or a job board, don’t let the opportunity pass you by to truly energize your talent community. Put them in action. Not all members of your talent community will be your next hire, but someone in their network will be. Share content to your community that is easy to share through text or social networks. Share content not just about jobs, but your culture and other relevant events that are happening.

9. Attend Events with High ROI

If you have been recruiting for some time you have come to realize that not all events are created equal. When planning your event strategy have your referral pipeline strategy in mind. Focus only on events that members of your talent community, your employees and their networks or alumni may attend. Plan to attend events that increase your ROI by focusing on content management of the event and the communication strategy afterward.

10. Get and Give Feedback

Your referral pipeline is living, breathing, ever-changing and developing. To feed its development is to actively gain feedback from those that refer and at the same time give feedback in return. No matter the source of the referral, the goal is a quality hire. Without honest and transparent two-way feedback the pipeline may begin to deteriorate. Be open to all feedback and alter your course accordingly.

About Emissary

Emissary is a candidate engagement platform built to empower recruiters with efficient, modern communication tools that work in harmony with other recruiting solutions.

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