Article main image
Jan 23, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Referrals are some of the best resources on the market. Someone always knows someone, and with a referral, the key to success is closer than ever.

Recruiting is a constant rollercoaster of highs and lows. Whether you found a candidate that checks all of the boxes and doesn’t please the hiring manager, or you struggle to find a perfect candidate and decide to send someone over anyway, and the manager LOVES them. I am sure we have all had our experiences. Recently I had to go through one of the hardest lows in my career.

I had a candidate move from out of state to take on a contract to hire role. The paperwork kept on getting pushed, and the start date was delayed. After going back and forth with the manager, the position fell through. This happened a week before Christmas. I felt crushed, I felt defeated, and I felt like I had failed my candidate. When I broke the news, my candidate stayed confident and professional. We met for coffee and had a mini pow-wow session on sourcing for roles in her skillset and who I could reach out to in my network. This helped me feel not so defeated but didn’t fix the situation. However, I was able to use my sourcing efforts for candidates, into hiring managers and proactive submittals. I was able to source my network, and second/ third-degree networks and get some introductions for her (someone knew someone who had an opening). This made me think back on referrals which I feel is a dying trend in our industry and not utilized very often.

The referral tree is a beautiful thing of nature. Everyone knows someone, and someone is who the manager wants. Thanks to social media and the numerous amount of sourcing tools that allow you to pull up various social media accounts, you are more connected than ever before.

When I make an initial call to a candidate, and they aren’t interested, I don’t end the call and tell them “thank you” for their time. I take it one step further and try to get one name out of them. If they give me a first and last, I can do the rest. If they give me a first name and company, I can do the rest.

Looking back over the past few years I have got 30% or so of my hires from this method. This approach can be used for those in a business development role, or anyone who works in an agency. If someone were to call you today for a recruiter/sourcing role, but you weren’t interested they could ask you for one person you would recommend, I am confident you could think of a handful of people to recommend.

It doesn’t matter if the referral is looking or not because that’s my job to screen them and convince them if they are a fit and why they should be interested. If that referral is not a fit, then I start the same conversation over and see who they know. It is an excellent way to source different, and you never know, you may just find that purple squirrel.

For instances, I was recruiting for a niche engineer for Microsoft and there wasn’t many people on the job boards, or social media with the skills I needed. I sourced Microsoft gold partners and went through their testimonials to find out who is using the products and see if I could piggyback off that. Well I came across a guy and was able to find his number. The number ended up being his wife’s and they had split, however she was in the IT field and gave me a colleagues name and number she had worked with. The colleague didn’t end up being a fit due to salary requirements and location but he did have the skills I needed. He was a part of a local organization and said he would get back to me after speaking with some friends. Sure enough I thought this was the end of the road and he wasn’t going to reach back out. Well low and behold I found my candidate. The gentleman reached back out and made an introduction to a woman who was just laid off from a Microsoft gold partner that had shipped jobs overseas. She had been with them for some time and didn’t even have a working resume as this happened unexpectedly. I spoke with her and sent my notes to the manager without attaching a resume. I told him the situation, and that she was the one he needed to talk to ASAP. She ended up starting three weeks later.

The referral tree can be very rewarding, but it may take a little time to be sufficiently fruitful and giving. It is much easier to build that tree if you recruit/source in the same skill set. If you recruit/source in the same vertical, you can create a better-rounded tree, just with some patience and time.

Go beyond the norm and challenge yourself. Sourcing different allows you to break the mold and stir up new talent that may not be on social media or the job boards. Sourcing different requires you to think different.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!