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Sourcing Marathons: The Simple Secret to Increasing Employee Referrals

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Increasing employee referrals is at the top of the "to-do list" for pretty much every Head of Talent nowadays.

Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate (only 7% apply, but this accounts for 40% of all hires!) They're also more cost effective; 51% of the recipients to the same study said that it's less expensive to recruit via employee referrals.

In short, they're pretty great.

Unfortunately, schemes to encourage referrals don't always go as planned. Whatever the incentive for making a referral, hiring isn't really front of mind for your employees.

Everyone has their own 9-5 to tackle, they're own problems to deal with, and their own distractions to keep them busy (looking at you here, Pokemon Go!)

If you want to increase employee referrals and make hiring a company wide priority, then holding sourcing marathons might well be your best bet.

What is a sourcing marathon?

Sourcing marathons, or sourcing parties, are events where you can make employee referrals a priority for your whole team (or your entire company).

They're painfully simple, but highly effective.

They involve: keeping your team (or your entire company) behind one evening and combing through their online networks with your recruiters. The goal is to find referral opportunities and candidates that are relevant for open roles among your employees' connections.

Painfully simple.

In fact, you're probably questioning the need for a marathon in the first place. Surely, if you have the right incentives in place, employees will just refer their relevant connections by themselves?

Well, your team may remember to make the odd referral from time to time, but it's unlikely to stay front of mind. Hiring isn't a priority for them like it is for recruiters. They're also only likely to refer friends that they know are actively looking, not the passive candidates that they're connected to.

[tweetery]Referrals aren't a priority for your team unless you keep them front of mind[tweetery-end]

Holding a sourcing marathon and actually going through an employees network with them might seem labour intensive, but it's the best way to make hiring a company-wide priority and increase referrals.

If you need more convincing, they're used by some of the world's top companies, they're fun and they work! (See below)


How to run a sourcing marathon

Here's an exact, step-by-step framework that you can use to run your own sourcing marathon and start increasing employee referrals:

i) Review your open roles. Write down a list of positions that you're struggling to fill.

ii) Block out an evening in everyone's diary for the sourcing marathon. Depending on your organization size, you might want to invite your entire company or just a specific team, (if you're struggling to fill sales roles, then run a marathon with your sales team)>

iii) Order food, maybe some drinks. The goal is to make the sourcing marathon fun, not a chore. You may want to do it again in the future.

iv) Source. This is where the marathon really begins. Sit down with every employee, and comb through their LinkedIn and Facebook networks to look for connections that could be a good fit for your open roles. Add every relevant connection to a shortlist. (If the connection is a former colleague, make sure you ask what they were like to work with.)

v) Ask your employees if they'd like to directly refer the connections you've found. If not, would they mind you mentioning their name when you reach out.

vi) Give employees a referral link to share with any connections they're comfortable with reaching out to, this will allow you to track referrals and ensure that appropriate compensation is given to employees that refer successful candidates.

vii) Reach out to the remaining candidates on your shortlist. All the usual rules apply here, make sure your outreach fits the bill and that you follow up appropriately. If possible, mention the employee that the candidate knows in your email as this can have a positive effect on reply rates, (but make sure you check with your colleague first!)

Simple right?

They might be painfully simple, but sourcing marathons can be hugely effective for generating more employee referrals. We recommend you start with a single role that you're struggling to fill, invite a small number of employees, and test it out for yourself.

If it's a success, you can run it again on a larger scale.

[sunote]When it comes to reaching out and engaging the candidates that you find during your marathon, these tried and tested sourcing and candidate nurture strategies should get your team up and running as quickly as possible.[/sunote]