Turning recruiting into a team effort

Your employees can help you find outside talent. Here’s how.
Turning recruiting into a team effort

When it comes to finding new employees, human resource departments and recruiters are invaluable. But their job isn’t easy, and they’ll welcome any help finding candidates, especially if that help comes from within.

“Recruiting new employees can be a huge challenge for any business, regardless of their size,” said James Calder, chief executive of Distinct Recruitment, a recruitment agency in Nottingham, England. “As a business, you can utilise your staff to become an extended arm of your recruitment team.”

Potential hires will more likely view a current employee’s perspective as more authentic, since finding candidates isn’t their job, pointed out Jodi Chavez, president of Randstad Professionals and Life Sciences, a US-based HR services and staffing company. A current employee also knows the company culture and can spot people with the qualities and skills that will complement the team.

“Current employees can be outstanding ambassadors for an organisation and in many cases are untapped resources for HR,” said Chavez. “It’s best for entire teams to be involved not only from a numbers perspective — you’ll find and attract more prospective candidates when multiple people are searching — but also from a diversity standpoint. The more people involved, the more backgrounds, skills, and perspectives they bring to the table, so it follows they’ll attract a more varied pool of potential candidates than if only one or two individuals are looking.”

This ultimately helps the bottom line. A report by Achievers, a provider of employee recognition and engagement solutions, found that candidates from employee referral programmes are hired at a higher rate and cost far less to hire than those who are found through traditional recruitment methods. They also stay longer: 80% of employees hired from job boards won’t be around in two years, while employee-referred candidates have an average retention rate of 45% after two years, according to the report. And because the referral adds a layer of screening, such employees have a 350% reduced chance of being fired. While the Achievers white paper focused on the US, its tips can be used globally.

Here’s how to get your employees involved in recruiting efforts:

Personal connections. Encourage staffers to tap personal networks, including community groups and alumni groups. Encourage employees to simply spread the word to everyone they know.

“Since you’re already connected, any information you communicate about your organisation and job openings will come across as candid and casual, which is a very different dynamic than the one that, by necessity, exists in an interview situation,” Chavez said. “The lack of formality is appealing to your friends and acquaintances and also a good way for you to assess whether they’d be a good fit.”

Professional networks. Engaging with former co-workers, business partners, and other stakeholders is a great way to find talent. In many cases, “you’ve already worked with them and know how they operate professionally, what they care about, where they excel, and what they’re seeking in a job,” said Chavez.

Encourage employees to attend career-specific training events, local business group meetings, and industry conferences. They can volunteer to represent the company at job fairs in the community and at their alma maters and can also attend networking events to meet prospective candidates, she added. Encourage employees to talk up the company’s culture and to list specific reasons why they like the workplace.

Don’t be afraid to be vocal about the opening. “Local meetups around a specific topic interest often have shoutouts at the end for any job openings or projects people are working on,” Calder pointed out.

Social networks. Make sure your digital strategy includes more than posting the opening on a job site or your company’s career page. Because email is easily shared, send a company-wide message about the opening. Include a link that lets people easily apply.

To spark buzz, encourage sharing on social media. Facebook can broadcast the position to your friends and their extensive networks. Make sure you use career-focused LinkedIn, which features great candidates and many industry groups not related to a specific workplace. “If you wanted to keep a succinct message, you could offer copy for your employees to paste into their LinkedIn posts, or they could share a post from the company’s profile,” Calder advised. “Regardless of what the posts say, ensure they are genuine. As recruiters, we use LinkedIn every single day, and we know that posts that are authentic and from the heart are the most well-received, statistically and emotionally.”

Incentives. Offering current employees an incentive can help overcome the what’s-in-it-for-me attitude. Companies have long offered money for those recommending a candidate who gets hired. The Achievers report suggested offering perks for solid referrals via an online system that is measurable and visible to drive friendly internal competition.

“It’s not your employees’ job to know if the candidate is a skills fit (it’s yours!), so incent them for finding a culture match,” the report said. “The more you offer, the more likely [employees] are to participate, but make sure you’re only incentivising quality leads, or you’ll end up with heaps of unqualified candidates.”

When it comes to recruiting, employers shouldn’t overlook the easiest and most cost-effective methods. “Word-of-mouth and personal recommendation as a recruitment tool are hugely powerful,” Calder said.

— Dawn Wotapka is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at