In the old days, and by that I’m talking a year, the term referral really meant recommendation. If you referred someone for employment with your company, it meant you knew them and could vouch for their suitability. Similarly, if you referred a job as being suitable to one of your friends it meant that your knowledge of both the employer and the potential candidate meant that you really felt that it was a good fit. This practice was previously categorized as referral recruitment, although the introduction of new technology and increased social networking has meant that we are far less likely to know our connections beyond a bio or profile.

To make this new form of referral work, you need to introduce technology or you need to employ the technology that enables matching and recommendation within social connections. Most recently Work4Labs have added referral capability to their Facebook app that scans both Linkedin and Facebook connections, making recommendations to employees or community members as to who to share jobs with. Linkedin will be introducing their own referral engine that does something similar estimated for July and Branchout and Bullhorn Reach will have a similar capability in the near future.

In order to make referral networking effective in this new way, you need to establish a community approach to recruiting particularly suited to a Facebook fan page made up of employees. In order to give you access to their connections for recruiting they are going to have to believe:

1: While you want access to search connections and match opportunities, you’re not going to retain information or contacts unless they choose to connect with you. (I remember joining E-cademy a while ago to try it out. Before I had even completed the registration I was asked for 10 friends i could recommend.I didn’t and I wouldn’t, but I took the lesson away that if I want you to connect me, it needs to be the choice of your connections.)

2:The tech needs to make matching and messaging simple and quick.The app does the work, the employees send the message person to person. App’s like Work4labs make this a reality.

3: It needs to be clear to employees that you do not judge referrals as recommendations. This means that the refererrers will not be judged on their introductions.

4: You need to make it clear that you won’t spam anyone. They control the messages and referrals that go to THEIR connections. They must retain control of what message goes where.

5: They have to have confidence that anyone they refer to the company will be treated properly. A good candidate experience that centers on feedback in a reasonable time scale is essential to making things work. You are not likely to get many referrals if the experience is bad, which is why I would recommend referrals go to recruiters who take responsibility for the process and the feedback.

These are just a few thoughts that came out of discussions about referrals at #truDublin.The reach (and more importantly targeted reach),of the combined networks on Facebook and LinkedIn of your employees, offers one of the best opportunities to build an effective,low-cost and collaborative recruitment strategy. Technology.networks, and the most important ingredient Trust, makes this possible.

Whats your thoughts?

Bill