When looking for a job in HR, it’s natural for candidates to take the well worn recruitment pathway. This means that they apply through prescribed channels, whether it’s through the company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), submitting their resume via email, or meeting with a company representative in a predetermined setting (e.g., career fair). While this makes sense, it’s oftentimes not the best way to successfully gain a role. Employee referrals are a better option.
Employee referrals are one of the most successful method for earning a HR job. Numerous studies have shown that most roles in companies are filled this way. In addition, referrals tend to take less time in moving through the hiring process, as well as remaining with an employer than a non-referral.
This makes sense to me. When I was a Recruiter, I encouraged referrals for a variety of reasons. They were mostly selfish–having an effective employee referral program made recruiting that much easier for me! Remember when I spoke about defining your value proposition? My pain point were new hires that didn’t work out and therefore I had to replace them. Candidates that could take that pain away (meaning they stayed with the company long enough to provide a return on the organization’s recruitment investment) were more likely to be hired. Having internal advocates helped me tremendously with this.
Current employees supported that by acting as internal advocates. In this capacity, they would present candidates to me that they believed would make a great addition to the organization. They understood the business and what knowledge, skills, and abilities it took to be successful. Their knowledge of the little things–the company culture, formal and informal power structures, the good, bad, and ugly aspects of the work–provided an informal form of marketing to candidates. This meant that they presented a more well rounded presentation of the organization. They also knew that a successful referral resulted in a nice bonus! So it made sense to advocate for those that they believed would be able to pass through the various steps of the recruitment process and be hired.
For candidates, having an internal advocate provided benefits also. Hearing about the realities of the business from an active employee allows for them to make clearer decisions in line with his or her professional belief system. It serves as a way to better understand the needs of a company, helping to refine your speaking points when at the interview. And having an internal advocate provides a personal touch, which can serve to positively enhance the person’s recruitment experience.
But advocates don’t just apply to employee referrals. It can extend to those outside the organization that work on behalf of an individual. These are external advocates.
Oftentimes when I initiated recruitment drives, I reached out to various organizations that represent the target candidate population. For example, when I had to hire sales associates I would reach out to college Career Counselors. Once we established contact, I would meet with them to see how we could benefit from each other.
I would outline my employment needs, providing as clear a picture of what an ideal employee would be like. We would then establish a process by which we could monitor, assess, and provide feedback to each other on candidates as they went through the process. In essence, I was able to establish an external referral system, whereby key figures would advocate on behalf of their respective client groups.
I found that candidates that came through this method had a greater pass through rate (meaning a greater number of them successfully passed through the various hurdles on their way to becoming a successful hire) than candidates that applied through the well worn recruitment pathway. In some cases, the PTR was up to 50%, in comparison to a 10% PTR for candidates via other methods.
WHY ADVOCATES MATTER
Having internal and external advocates gives HR job seekers an additional method by which to stand out from the crowd. It can also aid in making better decisions on which companies or roles are worth pursuing. For organizations, harnessing advocates essentially expands the number of recruiters available to source, recruit, and hire quality people. With that in mind, I encourage people to actively build relationships with those that can advocate on your behalf.
Who are your advocates?
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