Successfully filling your executive positions has the highest impact of any recruiting activity within your company. Well-connected members of your current leadership team are likely to know and be able to refer excellent talent for your business-critical roles. One recent research study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and MIT shows that 30 to 50 percent of hires are the result of employee referral programs (ERPs).

How to Leverage Executive Referrals

If your company truly promotes based on ability, then it follows that your senior executives are also your top performers. Focus on recommendations from them for the best results when leveraging the power of employee referrals.

  • Do not assume that successful referrals flow naturally from your senior leaders as part of their jobs. Be sure that they periodically scan their networks for A-level talent. Craft a program that hones their networking skills and pinpoints recruiting leads.
  • Make every senior leader an executive talent scout. Develop a specifically targeted referral program that mines the skills, experience and personality set that will be the best match for your business.

The Pros and Cons

ERPs are a highly effective sourcing tactic; however, they are not a panacea. Think carefully about which hiring decisions have best benefited your organization in the past – and objectively weigh and vet all prospective hires, regardless of their source.

  • Your best executives generally have extensive networks. They tend to travel more, attend industry events and assume leadership roles in professional organizations and community boards. They build the “trust relationships” that are essential to successful recruiting.
  • Employee referrals are a good place to start. If a valued staff member vouches for someone, you often can rest assured that the prospective candidate is at the very least honest, reliable and skilled. There is a level of comfort with bringing in a possible hire who has some familiarity with your company.
  • Be mindful of diversity. If you rely solely on your own employees to bring in talent, the result may be a homogenous team as people tend to associate most closely with others like themselves. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, you want to welcome different perspectives to your team in order to cultivate diversity and the most creative business solutions.
  • Tension may result if an employee-referred hire does not work out. Encourage your employees to set realistic expectations with their friends and contacts so there are no hard feelings if the job does not work out for them.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. It may be hard not to be influenced by the fact that a prospective hire has an “in” with a member of your current leadership team. Do not allow this to cloud your judgment or cause you to overlook a better candidate.

The Role of Your Recruiter

Your executive recruiter can strategize with you to source candidates you will not find elsewhere and in doing so, cut critical time from your hiring process. Their industry knowledge, business intelligence and dedicated experience helps to accelerate sourcing and identify efficiencies to improve your system and approach.

The Talent Acquisition Profile and Talent Evaluation Process are among the resources offered by BrainWorks as our recruiters help ensure that you see only exceptional candidates who are the right match for your organization. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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