‘Returnships’ help stay-at-home mothers get careers back on track

This Article was orignially published in The Globe and Mail on May 7th, 2018

Author: Saira Peesker

Something big happened in the world’s workplaces while Laura Boisvert was at home raising kids: The internet. From 1999 to 2011, while Ms. Boisvert was a stay-at-home mom in Toronto, the internet went from a fast way to send letters to the ubiquitous backbone of most workplaces.

She had used computers in her previous job at the Sears Canada head office, but so much had changed that she was way behind.

“I felt stupid,” said Ms. Boisvert, 52, describing her first attempt back into the work force, doing administrative tasks part-time at a friend’s law office. She had to learn so many new technical skills that she felt like a drag, and says she never really settled into the role. “It was challenging and frustrating.”

Toronto startup ThinkData Works has made it a priority to help women in this situation and is challenging other companies to do the same. Co-founder Bryan Smith said his data analysis firm is offering a “returnship” – a short-term paid placement aimed at helping women relaunch their professional careers after extended stints at home.

“We’re looking to provide the opportunity to people who may be more senior and experienced in the world they’re coming from but who require short-term, contract or part-time work as they transition back to work,” he said, noting there is no specific job description, salary or term because they will develop a role around a successful candidate’s skills. “We want to respect the knowledge of people applying.”

It’s not just the new employees who will benefit, Mr. Smith says. He sees it as a way to attract skilled senior people to the startup world while addressing the significant gender gap in tech at the same time. Shortly after posting the opportunities on the ThinkData Works’ website in April, the company began to hear from potential applicants, even though it has not advertised the positions at all, Mr. Smith said.

“A lot of the initial feedback [from applicants] is, ‘Is this really real?’ We have to say, ‘Yeah, it’s something real!’ ”

In the United States, returnships have become an increasingly popular option for women looking to brush up on skills and ease back into the work force, particularly in the startup world of Silicon Valley. Large companies such as IBM, Goldman Sachs and Deloitte all offer such back-to-work programs.

Toronto’s most prominent returnship is Women in Capital Markets’ Return to Bay Street, which works with a broad group of financial institutions to help women relaunch careers. In four years, the initiative has placed 42 women back in the industry.

Critics of returnships have said slotting experienced female workers into internship-type roles can undermine their skills or delay their search for a permanent job. But sometimes a taste of success is just what a woman needs to feel confident and ready to commit long-term, says Beatrix Dart, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

She believes a truly helpful returnship involves meaningful work and could lead to a permanent position.

Dr. Dart, who teaches strategic management, says when women are out of the work force for a long time, they often experience the collapse of their professional networks, which can make it harder to find the right opportunity. Other common hurdles include doubts that employers would hire someone who has been off for so long, guilt over stepping back from family responsibilities, and uncertainty about what types of jobs to pursue.

“Many women say, ‘I know what I don’t want to do, but what is it that I do want to do, and am I good enough for it? Can I prove that I have a skill set that is relevant for today’s world?’ ”

Dr. Dart is the executive director of the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business, which runs a Back to Work training program that gets hundreds of applications for 35 spots available each year.

“You have to allow women to work through all of those issues,” said Dr. Dart, adding the program concludes with participants giving a professional presentation to representatives from real businesses, which often leads to hires. “[These workers] have a different level of maturity and experience that shows very quickly, but might need some extra support finding their niche.”

For Ms. Boisvert, that niche was a multifaceted role at recruiting firm TalentMinded, which initially hired her for a short-term project that rolled into a permanent position, which she still holds.

TalentMinded is now helping ThinkData Works recruit for its returnships. Co-founder Kim Benedict has done a lot of thinking about the best ways to increase female participation in sales and tech, and says one solution is to address the language used in job postings. She says terms such as “rock star,” “ninja” and “relentless” can give the impression of a male-focused office culture, as can phrases like “don’t take no for an answer.”

Several mothers who recently returned to the work force have found employment at TalentMinded, which offers flexible hours and allows staff to work from home.

Ms. Benedict is excited about ThinkData Works’ returnships and hopes other firms offer similar positions. She cautions that increasing a company’s gender diversity takes conscious effort. Employers should start by thinking about how a woman with a family might feel about working there. Are the hours flexible? Is part-time work an option?

“Part of the problem is that there are just more men in the funnel,” she said, explaining businesses in a huge rush to hire are less likely to get diverse candidates. “You need to try harder, and it will take longer.”

Your job postings for sales positions are boring and full of clichés, expert says

By Alex Coop @itsjustalexcoop

After running 66 sales job ads through an online scorecard, recruiting expert Kim Benedict discovered nearly half them fell into the same traps – they were too long, masculine in tone and riddled with corporate clichés.

These mistakes are actually very common, says Benedict, who is the CEO of TalentMinded, a company that provides subscription based, monthly managed recruiting programs. Benedict, who led a workshop during ITBusiness.ca sister publication CDN’s Top 100 Solution Providers gala event in Toronto about how to attract more women to sales, used Textio, the online tool for creating better job applications, as a jumping off point.

“Why do we still stink at hiring women in sales?” she asked workshop participants.”Well, the reason is because we haven’t changed how we go about recruitment.”

The lack of effort around how businesses recruit has caused women entering sales positions in Canada to slow down to a crawl. In the last decade, the world has only experienced a three per cent growth in the number of women entering sales positions, according to a LinkedIn study.

“We need to walk the talk,” said Benedict, citing the conversations she’s had with company executives who frequently tell her they want to hire more women but then actually fail to build strategies to make that a reality.

So what can businesses do? Quite a lot, says Benedict, and it doesn’t have to break the bank either. In addition to avoiding the common job application cliches, Benedict says start by answering an applicant’s primary question: why should they apply in the first place?

“We rarely ask what the applicants, and women, want from these jobs,” she said. Opportunities for leadership roles in the future, maternity leave – these are a couple of things people want to know about right away.

The sales position itself is associated with many misconceptions, Benedict pointed out. People often believe salespeople need to be aggressive and that they want to make money by tricking people into buying something they don’t need. These misconceptions might take time to stomp out, but Benedict quickly pointed out that emotional intelligence, leadership and strong networking skills are actually some of the key drivers behind a successful salesperson. She also suggested companies audit their recruitment departments and treat them as a core part of their business. Companies should also consider video job ads, which she said leads to five times more engagement.

“Form strong partnerships with your recruiters,” said Benedict. “This relationship is broken in so many organizations.”

Other tips for better recruiting strategies include:

  • Use data to make decisions, not your gut feelings.
  • Use real people instead of stock photography in your job ads. Authenticity goes a long way.
  • Explore returnship programs. Returnship programs, similar to internship programs, help people who are returning to the workforce.

Winning the Tech Talent War

This article was originally posted on Nov. 16th on LinkedIn.

Author: Pete Smith

Last night, I attended TalentMinded’s Next Generation Talent Acquisition meet-up on “How to Hire and Retain Tech Talent”. The panel included Jack Noppé, Chief Product Officer of Intelex Technologies Inc., Lauris Apse, Senior Director of Digital Operations at CBC, Malgosia Green, Chief Product Officer, TopHat and Gianluca Cairo, Chief of Staff, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Government of Canada.

The panel discussion for the evening explored ways that companies are being successful in attracting and retaining scarce technology talent. The moderator for the evening, Kim Benedict, CEO of Talentminded kicked off with a sobering statistic. In a forty-kilometer radius of the event, there are currently over 700 open job postings for full-stack software developers and this is just one of the many job titles that make up the software development infrastructure of a company. Against this backdrop, I captured five important themes from the evening to share.

Companies are moving away from hiring for “Culture fit” to hiring for “Values fit”. This may seem a very subtle and nuanced difference, but it is an important distinction. “Culture fit” often leads to hiring people who look and think like you and therefore eliminates a large number of candidates from the pool, creates systematic biases and reduces diversity. Hiring for “Values fit” means hiring people who share the same values as you and your company, but may think very differently about how to accomplish these. This leads to diversity in thinking, higher productivity, better solutions and a more diverse and less homogeneous workforce. It also opens up larger pools of candidates.

The second key point was around understanding your employee value proposition, embracing what you are and matching your recruiting strategy to attract the people that looking for the distinctions that you offer. Working in Digital Media at CBC represents a different employee value proposition and attracts a different employee than the value proposition of working at high growth start-ups like Intelex or TopHat. One is not right and the other wrong, but rather each attracts different candidate types.

Third, imbed your recruiters into your development team so that your tech recruiters sit with, go to lunch with, and socialize with your Dev team. Break down silos between HR / Recruiting and your hiring managers. When I led a large team at PeopleSoft, we approached the working relationship between a recruiter and a hiring manager similar to the working relationship between a salesperson and their sales engineer. Both have distinct roles but ultimately work as a team to sell your value proposition to a candidate and convince them to join your company.

Fourth, you can not run recruiting as an “off-the-side-of-your-desk” activity. Recruiting must be a primary activity for leaders and metrics are required to hold managers, directors and executives accountable for results. Three years ago, I worked with a client to restructure their recruiting approach. At the time, I told their SVP for Products and Services that he needed to carve out 30% of his schedule to devote to recruiting. Eighteen months later, he confessed that at the time that he thought I was crazy, but looking back, he thought my time estimate was low and he had spent more than 30% of his time on recruiting.

Finally, think of “Diversity” as Canada’s secret weapon and superpower in the talent war. We have internationally renown universities that attract students from around the world (for example, 35% of University of Toronto’s enrollment is international students). Our challenge is to keep that talent here once they graduate while also attracting experienced talent to relocate to Canada as permanent residents. To that end, for qualifying companies, The Canadian Federal Government is establishing a two-week "standard" for approving visas and work permits.

There was a lot of wisdom floating around last night. I hope these few points that I captured help you in winning your war for talent. 

Robots vs Recruiters: AI and the Future of Talent Acquisition

As technology advances, many in our industry wonder whether or not artificial intelligence (AI) will replace recruiters or, at the very least, how it will impact what we do and how we do it.

Is the death of the recruiter finally here? 

Our sold out and much anticipated #NextGenTA MeetUp on June 8th covered this topic thoroughly through a panel discussion and audience questions. We wanted to ask some of the industry’s best and brightest where they thought AI would take us and what kinds of obstacles and opportunities might be presented along the way.  

At the MaRS Discovery District, we sat down with Kevin Grossman, President of Global Programs, Talent Board, Victoria Reynolds, Head of Talent Acquisition at Capital One, Chris Brown, Director of Talent Solutions, Canada at LinkedIn and Sara Cooper, Talent Director at Omers Ventures. Here are just some of the highlights from our conversation and insights these talent leaders provided to the packed house at MaRS: 

Q: Is AI the death of the recruiter?

Sara answered: “No, I read this 10 years ago and we’re still here. It will however transform HR and recruiting. A good recruiter uses tools to be better and faster. If a transactional recruiter is just posting jobs and waiting for applicants, then AI might be the death of that recruiter. If you believe in building relationships then AI will only help you be a better advisor and elevate your career.”

Q: Kevin, what are your thoughts on AI’s impact on recruiters and the candidate experience?

“Relax, the robots aren’t taking over. I came into the HR tech space in 1999. AI had a job matching algorithm, which was solid technology at the time. I haven’t seen a lot of change until very recently. Like Sara said, AI helps empower recruitment. Where we will likely see the most impact (and potential job loss or restructuring) will be in sourcing and administrative tasks. Companies that win, will invest in leveraging new technology to drive efficiencies and provide better feedback loops through people.”

Q: Chris, what is AI and how is it being used today in recruitment?

It’s important to frame the different types. The term “artificial intelligence” is fairly generic. In recruitment, a lot of AI is heavily focused on matching and resume parsing. What we’re seeing now is a transition to more intelligent learning. For example, AI becomes very interesting regarding speech recognition. It’s working towards learning - using AI technology in a customer service chat bot, perhaps moving to interviewing, and face recognition. Sourcing, however, is where we might lose jobs. We can’t comprehend how fast it changes because it will almost certainly occur faster than humans can adapt to it.”

Q: Victoria, what are your thoughts? What happens if companies don’t adapt? 

“We need to find balance. We’re make progress using predictive analytics, using data to cut down on both the recruiter and candidate time. At Capital One, we’ve looked into chat bots for credit card customers - can we apply this to the recruiting experience? We’ve also looked at building an application for scheduling and aiding candidates in their preparation. We chose to build this in-house as our teams know culture and we believe that can’t be taught unless you’ve lived it.” 

Q: Sara, how has technology modified the role of the recruiter? Have we raised the bar to strategic thinking?

Recruiters don’t have the best reputation – you just have to read Linkedin to know that. They have to be better at adding value and being proactive and AI will allow them to do that. AI will separate the great recruiters from the rest because it will free them up to focus on strategic work. Recruiters who will survive are the ones who can meet the needs of the business not just today but six months or even years from now. If we are going to prep our business for our CEO stepping aside five years from now, we need to start building a pool of potential replacements today. Those relationships need to start today. That’s something that AI can’t do, at least not right now.

Q: Kevin, based on candidate experience benchmarks, where do recruiters win?

“The one thing we measure is the potential business impact of how candidates are treated. If candidates are treated fairly, communicated with, and given closure, 64% of the time they will apply again, refer others, and buy your stuff. 43% of candidates who have a bad experience will sever that relationship. This is significant for a consumer based business.” It comes down to respect for the candidates time, no amount of automation can fix that.

Sara jumped in on this one: “Always remember that declined candidates are future customers. We need to better predict with accuracy what we may need - perhaps AI will help us do a better job at workforce planning.”

Back to Kevin: “There is a speed aspect that AI can help with. Often candidates withdraw due to the length of the recruitment process.”

 

Q: Chris, what’s happening with LinkedIn right now when it comes to AI? What can we expect as it relates to Talent Solutions? 

“AI exists today on LinkedIn with features such as “jobs you are interested in” and “people you may know”. As engagement improves, AI does the heavy lifting to get you more value. LinkedIn Recruiter is still restricted to skills and keywords but it’s moving toward social cues like a LinkedIn user’s affinity to the company or brand, or intent. Our AI technology will celebrate what we do for both companies and candidates. AI will help us move from just finding people to real recruiting which goes beyond just finding people but to attracting and engaging those with the right skills and affinity to your brand.”

Q: Victoria, are we going to create bias through machine learning and AI?

“Humans are biased. Machine learning can highlight whether or not there is bias. The more technology we use to identify unconscious bias, the better off our recruitment processes will be. The robots might actually help.”

To gain the full Next Generation Talent Acquisition experience - awesome panelists and thought leaders, sponsor rewards and networking - keep an eye out for our next MeetUp announcement for September 19th! The topic: Diversity. Not a member? Join here.

Thanks again to our panelists!

Lastly, this event would not be possible without our awesome sponsors. Thank you to XRefIdealTalentMinded and ViziRecruiter for not JUST sponsoring the event but sending your awesome teams to join in on the fun and add value to the conversation. 

If you are interested in speaking, sponsoring or have a topic that you would like to see us tackle please contact Kim Benedict, kim@talentminded.ca.

Have a wonderful summer #NextGenTA friends - we’ll see you in September!

Why talking about career growth opportunities is essential in getting the right candidates

Published by Stephanie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded Inc.

Most job ads are boring and generic; a sea of sameness.  But what do candidates really want to know? What would make the best talent take notice of your job opportunity?

One common theme that almost always comes up during the interview process is career growth. What’s the next natural progression from the role they are interviewing for? Yet for many firms this almost never makes it into the job ad, let alone the screening process.

A question we like to ask candidates is “if you were offered the job, what factors will you use to determine if this role is the ‘right job’ for you? 80% of the time career growth makes it to the top of the priority list.

Don’t get me wrong - the culture of the company has influence over the candidate’s decision, however we find that ‘what’s the career path?’ gets asked the most. 

This raises the question - why don’t more companies ‘talk’ about (and promote) the opportunity for career advancement in their job ads?

I was at a tech social recently and asked people – ‘when you are reading a job ad, what entices you the most to apply to the job?’ When talking to people it became clear that opportunities for career advancement was huge!  People want to be challenged, promoted, valued, on a mission and progressing their own goals as much as the companies they work for. Win-win.

Yet, as we are all too well aware – many companies are still posting job ads that list what the person will do – not what they will become (Lou Adler).

Here are some real live examples, tips and job ad excerpts from some of our favorite clients and most admired brands on how they address career advancement opportunities in their job communications:

  • “Why join our team? This is your opportunity to learn the business from the ground up, and eventually take those skills and apply them in a more senior position at the company.”
  • Prove it. Share statistics about promotions within the company – “In 2015 we had 40 in-house promotions - once you join our company you won’t want to leave. We’ll provide you the opportunity to move-up.”
  • “But know this. If you do decide to apply for this position, and we agree that this is the right job for you, you'll be supported by a plethora of internal programs whose only focus is the continued progress of your career.”
  • “People in our career track drive delivery and capability excellence through the design, development and/or delivery of a solution, service, capability or offering. They grow into delivery-focused roles, and can progress within their current role, laterally or upward.”
  • Be authentic. If there’s no fast track growth plan, then don’t make it up.  Candidates trust and are attracted to authenticity.
  • Provide mentorship. If the growth opportunity isn’t readily available or yet defined, providing mentoring or coaching can be a great alternative to finding and keeping great people.
  • All of this ties back to job seekers thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, and that in order to advance they will likely need to move to a different company. If you address areas of growth within the company early on, it could help keep employees around longer. We suggest that hiring managers map out at least the next logical career progression for someone entering into a role at their company.

Paint a picture of where your ideal candidate is currently and what are they not getting that you can offer them and then advertise that.  And if/when the question of career progression comes up in the interview phase, and it will, at least you would have a well thought out answer.

WHAT THE BEST COMPANIES DO BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE (ON CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE)

Co-authored with Candice Sommers, Project Analyst, TalentMinded.

Every year we encourage our TalentMinded team members, clients and HR community to participate in the Candidate Experience Awards to drive best practices in their recruiting programs.  At a recent workshop hosted by Achievers and facilitated by the Talent Board we learned more about what it takes to provide a truly positive candidate experience - and the results might be different from what you think!

Here’s a summary of what we know about what the best companies do better than everyone else: 

  • They pay attention to job descriptions - they create unique, compelling job ads 
  • They invest in the right channels to attract more of the right people
  • They invest in their careers site and technology to enable the process
  • They include employee testimonials in their content & invest in referral programs
  • Their recruitment process is mobile compatible and responsive
  • They make it is easy to provide status updates and communicate to candidates often
  • Acknowledge candidate skills and experience throughout the process
  • Provide agendas to interviewees
  • They provide feedback and follow up no matter what the outcome
  • Provide clarity on the process and explain decisions 
  • Ask relevant questions at every stage of the interview process
  • Ask for candidate feedback 

Providing a consistent and positive candidate experience doesn’t have to be a daunting task nor is it all about expensive swag or extravagant tactics. While ‘Candidate Charters’ and ‘Concierge Teams’ can be awesome, focusing on these simple best practices have proven to help companies raise the bar. 

In our next blog we’ll share our favorite candidate feedback survey questions and tips on how to implement some of these improvements.

TalentMinded helps companies scale through better talent acquisition programs. We offer the best in people, process, tools, technology and brand for one monthly fixed price.  You don't just need a recruiter, you need a recruitment solution.  Call or email to learn more - kim@talentminded.ca, 416.587.1283.

Don't Underestimate the Phone Interview

By Liya Adessky, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded

It’s 9 PM, you’ve had one too many coffees, and you’re staring at the computer hoping you’ve convinced one or more of the 20 companies that received your application that you’re qualified for an interview. We’ve all been there! Looking for a job can be extremely stressful and time consuming. Applications can go into a black hole and in some cases, it’s a hyper-competitive, saturated job market. In many sectors there are few jobs, and lots of people looking to fill them. In 2015, “only four provinces registered job gains” (Kirby, Macleans, 2016) and even those gains weren’t all that impressive. For the job seeker, that means first impressions count more than ever.

People put tons of energy into crafting the perfect job application, and rightfully so. What you may not always consider is just how fierce the competition is right from the get-go. As a recruiter, I can often receive upwards of 300 applications for a single vacancy. With that in mind, it’s important to optimize your chances at every stage of a company’s recruitment process.

If your resume is indeed “screened in” for the job, the likelihood is that you’re moving onto a telephone interview first and foremost. Most companies require a “phone screen” or prequalification stage before you’re invited to meet a hiring manager in person.  Some companies even require video interviews before moving to a face-to-face interview.

In order to get to that all-important in-person interview you have to “pass” the phone screen, an often underestimated part of the process. We find that people often don’t take as much time or put as much emphasis on their preparation for this stage of the recruitment lifecycle. This can be a costly mistake. 

The candidate pool may be smaller once you’ve made it to a phone interview, but it’s still a tight race at the top of the candidate pipeline. According to a recent article by Peter Harris for Workopolis (2015), “98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the ‘top 2%’ of candidates make it to the interview”.  

As a recruitment partner for companies both local and abroad, my days revolve around conducting and assessing phone interviews. Peter’s statistics are bang on.  Though I may schedule 10 phone interviews any given week for any given role, only 2-3 candidates may be submitted as a result. In other words, a solid resume does not guarantee a home run or in-person interview.

Here are some ways in which you can improve your chances to move from the phone interview to the next interview round:

  • Be on time: Much like an in-person job interview, recruiters place a lot of value on a candidate being on time for the conversation scheduled. It shows respect and says a lot about what it’s like to work with you. If you’re going to be late, be sure to send an e-mail ahead of time to and explain why you may not make it on time. To that end, try to avoid this scenario altogether by not scheduling back-to-back meetings or other important calls before or after.

 

  • Study your resume: Knowing your resume backwards and forwards may seem obvious, but many candidates often confuse items listed there. If it’s on your resume you should be prepared to answer questions about it. It’s the recruiter’s job to validate the information presented and/or uncover gaps in your employment history. Even if it’s simple forgetfulness, being unable to address previous jobs on your resume, and why you may have left certain roles, will not come across well and may cost you the next round.

 

  • Know the role: And more importantly, know why you’re the right person for it. Prepare yourself to answer the question: Why this job, and why this company? If you can’t articulate why this job will make you jump out of bed in the morning, then the recruiter may question how much you know about the company or how you will impact the organization.

 

  • Exude energy: What you hear is what you get in a phone interview. Unfortunately we can’t meet everyone in person. Be sure to stay alert, energetic, and enthusiastic over the phone at all times. Companies today are looking for passion and purpose. If you’re not excited about the opportunity, then that may be the difference between you moving forward over your competition.

 

  • Answer questions succinctly: It’s a red flag for any interviewer when a candidate can’t stay on topic. This may suggest to the interviewer that you’re not actually listening or that you are, but choose to talk about something else anyways, which is just as problematic. Phone interviews are opportunities to showcase not only your listening skills but your ability to be succinct. It’s not always just your answer to the question that is being assessed.  Stay on point.

While phone interviews may appear to limit candidates, in some ways they are an innate part of the recruitment process.  As recruiters and the companies we work for, we take this part of the process seriously and so should you. This means you may need to work that much harder to demonstrate why you’re a fit. Don’t take a phone interview for granted, and you may just see better results. 

Liya Advessky, Talent Minded

Why referrals (especially in start-ups) should be a top priority

 Why Referrals should be top priority

Why Referrals should be top priority

Why referrals (especially in start-ups) should be a top priority

Author: Stephanie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded

From the time that I got my first “real job” I learned quickly about the power that employee referrals can have on a company and its culture. As well, after working in the start-up world, I have seen first hand how important it is to tap into the pool of talent in your network to hire people who believe in your company and mission. 

As it turns out, I found my current employment through a referral.  It’s easy to see why my employer is tapping into their referral network before posting positions online–hiring through an employee referral is faster, more cost effective and generally a better culture fit–and I’m living proof! I would also go as far to say that the majority of people I know found their first and often second job through a referral. 

It’s important for companies, especially tech start-ups, to understand the end-to-end value of an employee referral. Here are some of the reason employee referrals should be your number one, if not only source of hire when you are in the early stages of growing your business–and they may be different than you think.

JOB HOPPING HAS BECOME THE NORM

“Job hopping” has become the new norm; 91% of millennial workers only anticipate spending 3 years or less at one company. With so many options out there for a lot of skilled talent, especially in tech, it’s easy to keep fast tracking your career forward with great leaders and great companies.

Being a millennial I can attest to this myself and I see it happening within my network all the time. We have the mindset of always thinking about the next best thing. When I talk to people in my network about their current jobs, the majority are not planning to grow their career within the current employer or foresee the opportunity to do so. 

So there are two key points to this: 

1.       Given millennials may move jobs more often, having someone you trust refer them into your company can be a good sign.  Often times we dismiss ‘job hoppers’ thinking they can’t hold down jobs or get fired.

2.       Cutting through the noise on job boards and inmail ‘spam’ or avoiding it all together by going direct to your immediate referral network can be a key competitive advantage especially in a tight labour market. 

EMPLOYEE REFERRALS = HIGHER RETENTION RATES

We have entered into a time where it is easier than ever to apply to jobs and find them online – or the jobs find you! With tools like LinkedIn and Indeed, people can apply to multiple jobs with ease and/or receive daily notifications about jobs that match their search criteria. When applying to, and getting jobs, is this easy, it is essential for employers to look at other methods of employee retention.

Employers who have employee referral programs have 25% higher retention rates of employees after two years than those who do not. When you already have the inside scoop on a company, and know people who you respect within the company, it helps in making a smooth transition. Employers who use their network for referrals, and not just internal employees, have a better chance at extending their reach into the labour market and attracting talent who are pre-qualified ‘fits’ for the company.

My first experience with this was when I worked at a bank during my undergraduate degree. After my first year of employment, I referred two people to the company–one that I had worked with, and one a fellow student. At this bank, culture fit was very important, and since I had a great sense of what it was really like to work there, everyone I referred was hired and stayed and moved up in the company.

When you think about companies who have had success in hiring through employee referrals, like my current employer TalentMinded, the ROI is in employee engagement, retention, lower cost and time to hire and company growth.  

SO HOW CAN YOU INCREASE EMPLOYEE REFERRALS?

A lot of companies, especially start-ups, give employees perks for referring people to the company. It’s standard to have some sort of monetary compensation or tangible reward to motivate employees to tap their networks. We find most companies offer a minimum of $1500 per hire paid out after 3 months or half and half during the probationary period.

There are other things companies are trying in an attempt to fill their pipeline with quality referrals for hire.  I have a friend who works for a company that is doing some cool things with their referral strategies and its working. For example, they give their employees extra vacation days if they hire your referral.  They also take the employee and their referral out for lunch the first week the referral starts and make sure they publically recognize the employee’s contribution through a monthly newsletter and townhalls.  

Another way to increase your referrals and get your employees jazzed about digging deeper into their networks is to give it a brand of its own.  Try creating a sub-brand for your program with a logo and tagline to match.  This will help get your employees rallying behind something more tangible and visible then just an email reminder from time to time.

The ‘ask’ for more effort and energy in driving an increase in qualified referrals should also come from the top down.  A message from the CEO can be more powerful than a standard HR policy announcement or poster in the lunch room.

Lastly, consider rewarding your brand ‘ambassadors’ beyond your company walls.  Encourage referrals from external networks and people who know you and the company well.  Being a start-up usually means your small, so why not reward ALL the people that care about your success.  Extend your reach by expanding your rewards to other raving fans around you.  And as we mentioned, it doesn’t have to all be all about the dollars and cents. As stated in one of our earlier posts, “Why don’t companies reward the people who care about them”, it’s the thought that counts – don’t underestimate how far a $25.00 Starbucks card can go in helping you build your brand!

Essentially I am a firm believer in employee referrals based on what I have experienced personally as well as the success I have witnessed through my network and their career paths. Having some sort of employee referral system in place, that employees will actually pay attention to and action, should be a top priority when crafting your recruitment strategy.

Please feel free to share some of the things that your company does to drive referrals!

Author, Stepahnie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded