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October 30, 2022
Olivier Roth

How to Transition from a Referral Program to Network Recruiting

Today, referral programs are one of the most powerful recruiting strategies available to companies. Referrals are 85 times more likely to be hired than inbound candidates, over twice as fast to hire, and they stay with companies — on average — 70% longer than non-referrals.

If you’ve ever implemented a referral program at your company, you’ve likely experienced the benefits of hiring referrals first-hand. However, as your company grows, you may find it hard to scale your referral program at the same pace.

There are a few reasons why it’s tough to scale a referral program. We’ll cover those below, then explain how a shift to network recruiting can solve for those problems — while still bringing all the benefits of a referral program to your recruiting.

3 issues make referral programs challenging to scale

Once a company scales past 50 employees, it becomes hard to scale a referral program — for three main reasons.

Referral programs put the onus of recruiting on employees

When you ask employees to refer connections for open roles, your employees need to sift through their minds (and their LinkedIns), think of who might make a good fit, and do the initial reach-out to gauge their interest.

Even if an employee wants to help their company, they often don’t have the time to take on the heavy lifting of sourcing and recommending candidates.

Employees aren’t always aware of open roles within their company

When it comes time to fill open roles, leadership or Human Resources will often share a quick message about the roles in Slack or a company All Hands meeting. For many employees — who are often juggling multiple tasks already — these announcements are quickly forgotten.

According to Gartner, close to half of employees aren’t aware of internal job openings in their organizations — meaning that only one in two employees, at most, will refer candidates for open roles.

Added monetary incentives don’t motivate employees

Many companies will reward employees for successful referrals with bonuses. However, according to LinkedIn, only 6% of employees refer candidates in order for the cash. Another 35% of them do it to help their friends, 32% do it to help their company, and a final 26% simply want to be seen as a valuable colleague.

If your current referral bonus isn’t driving sufficient referrals for you, it’s unlikely that increasing the bonus amount will make a meaningful difference to the amount of referrals you receive.

Scaling referrals with network recruiting

Network recruiting brings together the connections of your team, advisors, and investors into a single, collective network. It allows company leaders and recruiters to find talent from within the company’s collective network without asking teams to do the heavy lifting of finding, vetting, and reaching out to potential candidates.

Several aspects of network recruiting make it infinitely scalable.

Recruiters have unlimited access to their network’s talent pool

With traditional referral recruiting, leaders need to ask their employees, advisors, and investors repeatedly for referrals, since they can’t access their networks independently.

Network recruiting, on the other hand, brings together these individual networks into a single, combined, searchable network. At The Swarm — the first network recruiting platform — we call this combined network your Network Graph.

With the Company Graph, leadership and recruiters don’t need to go on deep dives through LinkedIn to find potential talent with existing connections to their team. They can simply open their Company Graph and use the search bar — or The Swarm’s proprietary matching AI — to find their next hire.

Employees can contribute without doing any heavy lifting

With network recruiting, individuals only need to contribute their connections to the Company Graph once. It takes them a matter of minutes, and then they can go back to their daily tasks without needing to search for and contact new referrals every time a position opens up.

Recruiters and leaders, however, continue to reap the benefits of referrals. Every time they create a new position in The Swarm, new referrals are automatically generated from the existing Company Graph — complete with enriched data. This allows them to find strong candidates that employees might not have even thought about referring, thanks to human error.

Network recruiting allows leaders to nurture candidates long-term

With traditional referrals, candidates are generally only introduced to the company when it’s time to hire for an open role. This means a lot of just-in-time hiring takes place, often after rushed interviews — which can lead to subpar results.

Using The Swarm, however, leaders and recruiters can create and plan future roles long before they’re hiring for them. This allows them to identify top candidates early on and begin creating relationships with them. This approach builds trust with the candidate and allows you to gauge their fit long before you need to hire.

Incentives switch from gaining cash to building value

According to LinkedIn, 58% of employees contribute referrals to their company because they want to help the company or feel like a valuable colleague. The Swarm allows employees to lean into that feeling without needing to do the heavy lifting of recruiting.

Generally, if they’re at a company they enjoy, employees want to contribute to the team and feel valuable. Network recruiting builds on this sentiment rather than cajoling team members to refer candidates through cash alone.

Build a scalable recruiting foundation with network recruiting

Whether you’re just starting out or hiring at scale, network recruiting allows you to build a solid foundation for your recruiting efforts. It transforms traditional referral programs into a scalable and repeatable process that benefits leaders, recruiters, your teams, and your future hires.

Throw out your old referral playbook and start scaling with network recruiting today.

Harness the power of networks to make your recruiting more efficient. Start free at theswarm.com