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Inbound vs. Outbound Employee Referral Programs

inbound vs outbound employee referral programs

Most of us are familiar with the difference between inbound and outbound recruiting. In a nutshell, inbound recruiting is when the candidates come to us. On the other side is outbound recruiting which is when we go to them. Employee referral programs can be categorized in the same way.


What’s wrong with an Inbound Employee Referral Program? 

Once a candidate applies for a job, they list who referred them on the application. By doing so, we ensure recommended candidates are screened and interviewed. Then consider the people that forget to apply after an employee gets them excited about the open position. The employee is left wondering if their referral is going to get hired, meanwhile the candidate may have not applied. This leads to a poor experience that employees aren’t eager to replicate. Mainly due to a lack of transparency. 

Usually using a modern ATS you can make and track referrals by logging into the internal portal but this is cumbersome and put off until employees are back at work. Employees might make referrals, but results are impacted by the inconvenience. This then leads to them opting to have candidates list them on their applications, instead of acting as an outbound recruiter for your company. 

Now looking on the opposite end of the spectrum we have some employees who overvalue their referrals. Thinking that by associating themselves with a candidate, their reputation is on the line. Granted, we don’t want low quality referrals, but it’s extremely important to highlight the fact that anyone referred will still go through the standard screening and interview process. At the end of the day, it’s your recruiters responsibility to determine whether or not the candidate is a good fit. 

It’s time to let your recruiters do what they do best – and that’s screening candidates. In doing so, you’ll create a referral culture in which both your company and its employees benefit as a result of bonuses and faster placement rates.


How are Outbound Employee Referral Programs any different?

Just like outbound recruiting, we’re now actively promoting opportunities. Instead of waiting for candidates to come to us and apply, we take initiative and go to them.  This means that we will create more volume with a full funnel for employee referrals like the diagram below: 


Using an outbound referral platform like ERIN, it’s actually a lot easier than you would think. The technology creates visibility around relevant openings, and provides a platform for employees to quickly share a referral. Data has shown, success or failure weigh heavily upon accessibility and ease of use. As covid restrictions loosen, people are eager to reconnect with old friends and get back to meeting new ones. Keeping this in mind we are able to go beyond typical jobseekers and tap into passive talent that would otherwise be inaccessible. Our employees can vouch for the culture and provide an insider’s perspective on the role. 

Given the wave of resignations on the horizon, employee testimonials are one of the strongest ways you can indirectly market your company to top talent. People are hesitant to buy into your company’s marketing after being burned by deceptive branding in the past. By borrowing credibility from a trusted 3rd party (your employee), we exponentially increase the odds of building  a positive rapport with the candidate.

Not to mention, according to data collected by SmartRecuiters “Referral hires have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate at 40 percent.” The data shows that 46% of those hires end up staying over one year and 45% of them end up staying for over two years. 


Key Takeaways:

The antiquated notion of employees making referrals via your website or a forum they submit is leaving a lot on the table.

Granted, outbound referrals aren’t magic but they create a ton of visibility around roles and dramatically increase the number of candidates submitted. Not to mention, it makes things a lot more fun for employees since they’re rewarded every step of the way. Make sure to take outbound referrals into consideration the next time that your are looking at filling your recruiting pipeline. 


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