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Employee referrals have proven to be one of the most effective ways to source new talent — but chances are your company’s employee referral program (ERP) was designed years or even decades ago. If your program isn’t up to date with the latest technological advancements, that drastically limits your ability to source new candidates through referrals.

One technology that is particularly important for building a modern ERP that gets results: artificial intelligence (AI). Below, we’ll look at three ways AI is impacting employee referrals and why you need to be leveraging this technology to make the most of your ERP.

1. Automated Referral Sourcing

If your employees are only referring top-of-mind candidates, your referral pool will be pretty small. However, AI can help expand your candidate pool by identifying passive talent in your employees’ extended networks. In a world where everyone is connected, you would be doing your recruiting team a disservice not to bring network intelligence to your referral-sourcing process.

Without a tool that helps your team harness the power of AI, your only option to solicit more referrals is sitting down one-on-one with your team members, spending hours combing through their LinkedIn networks manually. A world-class ERP shouldn’t rely on such time-consuming efforts.

AI has the power to unveil forgotten connections while simultaneously highlighting all the available open jobs at your company. An “I don’t know anyone” can quickly turn into a “Let me see if I can find at least one person in my network.”

According to the “2020 Talent Trends Report” by Randstad Sourceright, 47 percent of human capital and C-suite leaders are investing in predictive analytics for talent. This technology helps recruiters reclaim their time, which they can use to invest more effort in personalizing outreach and building relationships with candidates. Bringing predictive technology to your ERP in the form of AI-assisted referral sourcing can help you add even more time to your recruiters’ days.

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2. A More Engaging ERP Experience

The days of broken feedback loops and boring ERPs are over. Instead, today’s most effective ERP’s are built with an understanding of what motivates employees to make referrals — and that includes keeping them in the loop.

Think of it in terms of recognition and encouragement: Would you be likely to invest your time and effort into picking out a great candidate if you know your company would likely never follow up on them? Probably not.

An AI-assisted smart suggestion can prompt an employee to make a referral, but an easy-to-use ERP grounded in regular communication will actually get them to take action on their suggestions.

For example, eCommerce marketing company Klaviyo was having problems sourcing quality referrals from employees due to a broken system. The company’s system simply wasn’t easy enough to navigate. However, by adopting AI-assisted employee referral technology, Klaviyo was able to increase the average number of employee referrals to 3.9 per employee.

Key to this effort was changing the feedback loop: It wasn’t just easier for employees to make referrals — it was also easier for them to track those referrals. That way, employees knew they were making an impact and the company was treating their referrals well.

AI can take away the hoops by making it easy for employees to make and track their referrals, thereby getting more people engaged in your ERP.

3. Faster Times to Hire

In a tight talent market, the most highly talented people are at a premium. Speed is key if you are to hire a top-tier candidate before your competitors do. AI can help you achieve that speed in your ERP.

At first glance, an AI that encourages more referrals might not seem like it’s going to save you time in the long run. After all, doesn’t more referrals mean more candidates to sift through?

AI can be used not only to source more referrals, but also to help you evaluate those referrals by suggesting the best matches for your open roles from among your employees’ connections. This saves you hours of time by automating the short list, giving your company a leg up on your competitors who might be searching for the same talent. You can move faster to funnel candidates through your pipeline — and eventually make an offer to the right one.

When evaluating your current ERP, ask not what rewards you are offering but how you are leveraging technology to connect the recruiting team with the best talent in your employees’ networks. Today, AI is a must if you want to transform your ERP into a forward-thinking recruiting machine. When you embrace AI in your ERP, you give your recruiters more candidates and more time — and that’s integral to staying competitive in one of the fiercest talent markets in years.

Cait MacBrien is director of marketing at Drafted.

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