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Referrals are an important way to get high-quality, vetted candidates from existing employees. Not only do referred employees stay longer at a company, they also account for a little over a quarter of all new hires.

First things first, hiring through referrals is considered passive recruiting. Passive recruiting means that you’re growing your pool of candidates with little to no effort on your (the recruiter’s) part.

Referrals are especially useful because your coworkers will generally know what kind of work ethic and culture-add you’re looking for for each open position, and will refer accordingly.

So how can you build a great referral program for top talent?

Make sure the job requirements are clearly understood

There are probably a lot of people that you enjoy hanging out with but wouldn’t want to work with. It’s important to make sure that’s clearly understood by your coworkers!

The easiest way to do this is to include the job description in the email you’re sending to the company asking for referrals. This ensures that employees know exactly what skills you’re looking for and can easily forward the job description over to qualified friends.

**Tip: Make sure your job descriptions are clear and succinct. Read more here.

Acknowledge great referrals and keep employees updated

Recruiting through referrals might be passive for you, but it’s not for your coworkers! You don’t necessarily need to give monetary rewards for those that refer great candidates who work at the company (though that’s certainly nice), however, you should make an effort to congratulate them for great candidates and keep them in the loop about the status of their referrals’ applications.

Whether this is done manually or automatically, acknowledging an employee’s efforts and keeping them updated will ensure higher participation in the future.

Encourage minority candidates

Companies that are more diverse perform better. Not only that, companies with a more diverse workforce have a more inclusive culture.

While diversity and inclusion should be seen in every part of your recruitment process, it’s especially important to make it known throughout your referrals. And the best thing is, it’s incredibly easy to ask your coworkers for diverse referrals.

Yes, just ask.

Your coworkers will undoubtedly have a network where they can find qualified candidates and refer them to you. To sweeten the deal, you might also provide an additional referral bonus for hires from underrepresented groups at your company– which brings us to:

Give bonuses for great referrals

A bonus doesn’t just have to be money– plenty of companies also give extra vacation days or public acknowledgment.

Whichever you decide, it’s important to reward an employee for a great hire. This is a great way to incentivize others to refer qualified candidates as well.


Referrals are an important (and easy-ish) way to build a qualified pool of candidates at your company. As you continue to scale and hire at your company, don’t forget to leverage referrals!