2014 saw employee referral programs gain a lot of momentum as organizations tried to hire the best talent in the market without spending too much on recruiting. The biggest recruiting challenge for 2014 was gaining access to the pool of passive candidates, and this is where employee referral programs came in particularly handy. 2014 was also the year that social media finally entered the realm of recruiting to make it easier for both employers and candidates to research and communicate with each other directly and openly.
2015 promises to be another great year for recruiting in general and employee referrals in particular as organizations seek to expand and grow in all directions. While some trends from 2014 will continue to play a major role in 2015 as well, we also see a couple of new trends taking shape that will likely impact the future of employee referrals:
- Metrics are going to exert greater influence on employee referral programs as organizations start tracking returns on their programs, using key metrics like cost per hire, applicant-to-hire ratio, time to fill, and ratio of participating employees to non participating employees. Employee referral programs will increasingly need to work toward achieving specific benchmark targets in order to be deemed useful by senior management.
- Metrics management is not possible without an automated, technology-driven employee referral program. Employee referral programs will move toward a more automated workflow process with minimal manual intervention, leading to smaller recruiting teams and more efficient referral program responses.
- Mobile is going to be big for referral programs in 2015. As the number of people accessing jobs and other services through handheld devices grows, referral programs will also become more mobile-friendly, with optimized websites and tools. Employees will be able to access referral programs through any device and use their devices to share job postings and refer candidates for open positions.
- Employee referral programs will also become more efficient through automated matching technology that enables auto-matching of employee connections with available openings. Employees will only be expected to follow through with the results offered by the auto-matching tools, reducing the time and effort needed to screen resumes. Modern-age employee referral tools like ZALP use advanced algorithms to show the most relevant matches for open jobs.
- Social media will continue its dominance in 2015, and online networks will become virtual talent hubs. Organizations and employees alike will find it easier to contact potential candidates through social media.
- The growth in social media will also lead to a growth in employer-branding activities, with employees acting as brand ambassadors to spread positive word about their organizations.
- Proactive targeted-referral mail will replace mass referral mail once and for all in 2015. As data tracking makes it possible to categorize employees into different referral capability levels, employees will be asked to refer candidates based on their ability to refer for specific skills and competencies.
- 2015 will also see more candidates approach employees working in specific organizations for referrals in order to get their foot inside the organization. Employees will be more sought-after than ever before as candidates look to get referred for the jobs they want.
- Referral programs will no longer limit themselves to employees, but will expand to include virtually anyone able to provide the organization with good candidates. By advertising open positions on social media and encouraging everyone to share these positions and refer anyone who might fit the role, organizations will draw out the best talent available in the market.
- Lastly, employee referral programs will move from standard response times to real-time feedback. Employees will receive instant feedback on the quality and fit of the candidates they refer. Employees will be asked to participate actively in the screening and interviewing processes to ensure that they have a real understanding of the kind of people that the organization is looking for.
Employee referral programs are likely to become far more effective in 2015 as organizations start focusing efforts on inward sourcing, rather than seeking external partners for recruiting. Adopting one or more of these key trends in 2015 will help you make your sourcing process a competitive advantage for your company in the war for talent.