recruitment consulting

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

 

 

 

 

Recruitment Resolutions: Getting Ready for 2016

I'm not a huge fan of resolutions however I do value the inspiration and fresh outlook a new year can bring to business.  So I say—forget getting a gym membership and resolving to drink less coffee—for a real change in 2016, look for opportunities to revamp and refresh your recruitment! What changes will you make to your recruitment process in 2016 that will have a measurableimpact on your company's business? A little reflection and a few changes now can get you off to a great start and working toward big results in the New Year: better hires, faster time-to-fill metrics, improved retention, and a positive impact on revenue

Here are five suggestions to get you started:

  1. Review your Recruitment Process: Time to take a step back and ask the hard questions. Is your recruitment process really working—and are you satisfied with the results? Does your process meet the needs of candidates? Are there steps that you can tweak or remove to get the same or better results? Do you have the tools you need to make good hiring decisions? Only by digging down into what’s working and what’s not can you begin to create a plan to make 2016 your best year ever. Consider taking this time to map out your current process identifying areas of waste and brainstorming on ways to improve and save time.  This process will help you make room for new ways of doing things better. 
  2. Refresh Your Referral Program: Your employees are going to be super active and social over the holidays—make sure they’re always recruiting! You’ll want to have planted those seeds when employees’ friends starting thinking about finding new jobs. Now’s also a great time to review where your referral program succeeded and fell short over the past year—do you notice any patterns? Are your incentives working? Referrals should account for 20% or more of your hiring.  If you're not there—how can you give the program greater corporate visibility in 2016? Consider giving your program a name or kick starting the New Year with double the bonus for referrals to make sure you don’t miss Q1 hiring targets. A little planning now can help transform your referral program into a candidate-generating powerhouse.
  3. Conduct an EVP Survey: Your unique Employment Value Proposition (EVP) are all the things that make your company a great employer, above and beyond a paycheque. Ask your employees: why did they really choose to join the company, and why do they stay? Gaining a better understanding of what your employees value about working for you is a critical step in developing recruitment and retention strategies that really work, and the insights can also be used to better target messaging on your career page, blog, job ads and more. (And CEOs, don’t discount this exercise—what your employees truly value is often different than you’d think.)
  4. Add an Assessment Tool: Reflecting back on your best hires in 2015, do you know what’s made them successful? If not, find out! Many assessment tools benchmark and build profiles using the profiles of your current staff. If you are looking to hire more people like those that drive success in your organization, now is a great time to profile and analyze your current teams. We recommend solutions like Predictive Success, a candidate-friendly and highly accurate assessment tool.  Also watch out for new tools on the market like Fortay that help you assess culture 'fit'.
  5. Revitalize Your Social Media: As the excitement of a new platform wears off, dust begins to settle on our social media presences. Don’t let your feeds be ignored! Take a moment to leverage the analytics behind these tools and review what worked and what didn’t about your social media outreach, and plan for how you can better use these tools in the coming year to support other aspects of your recruitment strategy. Or, if you’re not already using Glassdoor, Facebook or Twitter to promote opportunities to potential candidates and share insights about your company, then now is a great time to build a strategy. It’s critical to have an editorial plan, defined roles and responsibilities, and social media guidelines your staff can follow year-round.

Your recruitment resolutions don't have to be super ambitious or disruptive. There is innovation in simplifying processes, getting back to basics and piloting new trends on a small scale to determine what works.  With a little strategic thinking and foresight, you can be ready to start the New Year with a bang—and get the jump on your competition. Think ahead and make recruiting smarter your company’s key competitive advantage.  Here’s to an awesome year ahead!

We’re TalentMinded!  We help companies modernize their recruitment.  We audit and assess your recruitment function and make smart recommendations to help move your company forward.  And it’s not just about the ‘shiny’ stuff.  Our clients appreciate our pragmatic and analytical approach that provides recommendations that can be easily implemented and most importantly, actually work. 

At TalentMinded we are passionate about helping our clients grow by hiring the right people.  If you need to develop or re-work your recruitment strategy, ramp up hiring fast or need help resourcing a special project, then TalentMinded may be the right solution for you.  Contact us for more information about what we do and how we do it - kim@talentminded.ca.

What are your 2016 recruiting resolutions? Please share your thoughts with us on Twitter @betalentminded!

Would you run your sales process like you run recruiting?

A collaborative blog post with Pete Smith.

“We are in a talent war”. Maybe you’ve heard this statement recently. We certainly are hearing it frequently from CEOs and other senior executives of software companies. Yet, in this war, so many of the wounds seem to be self-inflicted or from friendly fire.

To win a war, you need to commit resources, take risks, act with urgency and often invoke a flair for dramatic or brazen acts. Sales professionals will say the same applies to selling. We argue this equally applies to talent acquisition strategy and recruiting so our question to you is: “Would you run your sales process like you run recruiting?”

These days, it’s harder to find great talent than it is to find new customers. Recruitment is a sales process. Yet, while leaders state that talent is a competitive advantage, few companies run their recruitment function with the rigor, foresight, or resources that they devote to their sales function. In other words, if companies are losing at the “war for talent,” then they’re doing so not because of competition or external forces, but because they’re fighting ineffectively: no strategy, old and ineffective tactics, poor messaging, and lack of data or forecasts to guide decisions.

To make our point, we would like to compare and contrast typical sales and recruiting processes.

Talking with sales leaders, we’ve found common sales processes and management techniques across industries. Sales starts with defining the value proposition, which is converted into messaging aimed at a target market of prospects to generate leads. Leads are qualified and scored against their propensity to convert to a sale. Through this process, sales professionals create a lead funnel, measure leads against stages in the sales pipeline, and track conversion rates to create a time-phased sales forecast.

Throughout this process, lead qualification is important to avoid wasting time on deals that have a low probability of closing. Urgency is also prevalent in the actions of sales reps in order to keep leads and prospects warm, and moving towards a closed deal. Prospecting is an ongoing marketing and sales activity and rarely will a sales leader say that they have too many leads.

And in today’s world, how many sales organization operate without CRM technology to manage to sales process? NONE.

Now consider your recruiting process and what of the above is missing.

In our experience, companies start their recruitment process at a disadvantage by not articulating their value proposition, or by neglecting to turn that value proposition into compelling candidate-focused messaging. Most companies post an internally written job description—a boring, text-heavy document that describes the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the role. Rarely will the job posting be a “marketing” document which describes and sells the benefits that the candidate will get from joining your company, such as skills development, career advancement, culture, or environment.

This is analogous to sending out product specifications fact sheet as sales and marketing material in order to attract prospects. It does not work!

Once the job is posted, applications are received, but often one of two things happens: almost no one applies, or there is a flood of applications. In the first situation, recruiters must scramble to find someone, anyone to put before a hiring manager—with no leads, no prospects, and no line of sight on where to find the right candidates. In the second, recruiters are overwhelmed with the task of sorting through applications from people who are unsuitable for the role. In both cases, the hiring manager ends up frustrated: “Why can’t I just see a few great candidates? No one seems right for the job.”

When it comes to dealing with applications, some companies use a screening process based on University marks to complete the initial sort and discard. As Pete argued in his post, "I don't get it: Why are Employers Fixated on Marks", this is the wrong strategy and potentially eliminates great candidates for no other reason than work efficiency.

Where are these companies going wrong? Consider how many sales organizations rely solely on inbound leads to stumble upon them. The answer is NONE. Instead they invest in tools and techniques to help them be found, nurturing campaigns to develop prospects and outbound prospecting to target potential customers. So why do we expect this ineffective strategy, (often called “Spray and Pray”) in which a company posts a job description on multiple job boards and then hope for the best, to work for recruitment?

Your best candidates are likely passive—not currently looking for a job because they are happy in their current role—and need to be identified, nurtured, and encouraged to consider a role with your company. Just as with sales, this often comes down to building a relationship over time, not desperately reaching out at the last minute in the hope of grabbing a “quick sale”.

For example, a small software company could never find enough qualified developers or professional services candidates to meet their growing needs. We recommended to the CEO that he become the face of recruiting. To build a candidate pipeline, he personally spent a summer reaching out to potential future employees on LinkedIn. Although this sounds daunting, it really meant evenings, when he was in front of the TV, with his laptop searching LinkedIn. His search criteria was competitors or companies selling similar software into his target industries and when he found a profile of the current or former employee that he liked, he personalized an invitation for that person to connect. Most accepted. After building a pool of a few hundred candidates, his normal LinkedIn activity of posting relevant, interesting news about his company nurtured these candidates, built their interest and exposed them to current job openings. The result: No more talent storage.

Just as with sales, prospecting should be an ongoing recruitment activity—and rarely will a great sales leader say that they have too many leads. In recruiting, leads are people—candidates who may come work for your company, if not immediately, then in the next six months to two years.

Yet to be able to effectively build a recruitment pipeline of potential future hires, the recruitment team needs to be baked into your company. This means being kept up to date on upcoming corporate changes and new projects, understanding what roles are likely to need new people through growth or turnover, having a line-of-sight on what makes a successful hire for particular roles, and understanding the unique factors that makes each department “tick.”

Armed with this information, recruitment can build a predictable talent pipeline months in advance: developing targeted messaging aimed to the target candidate group (sales messaging), reaching out to potential candidates (generating leads), screening candidates and conducting preliminary interviews (qualifying leads), and targeting those individuals most suited and most likely to consider a role (convert to sales). Top recruiters say that for many roles it may take up to 100 candidates, researched and contacted, to find that one perfect hire. Lead qualification is critical throughout this process to avoid wasting time and energy on candidates that have a low probability of closing.

Finally, if this really is a talent war, you don’t send your army into battle armed with sticks and clubs. Analogous to the sales CRM system, Google AdWords, marketing automation technology and SEO tools, your team needs modern recruiting technology. It starts with an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). If your job posting says “please email your resume to careers@yourcompany.com “, the battle is over and you have lost before the first shot was fired. Other tools your team will also need are social recruiting tools such as premium or recruiter subscriptions to LinkedIn, niche job boards and advocacy marketing tools like Techvibes, a strong employer brand message and sourcing technologies like Entelo - just to name a few.

Again and again, leaders ask, “How can I get the people I need to help my company reach its targets?” The answer is simple: look to your sales process and mirror it in recruiting. 

Kim Benedict                                           Peter Smith

CEO / Co-Founder,                                 Managing Partner, 

TalentMinded                                           The Meaford Group       

What tech start-ups can (and should) be doing to rev up recruiting

We regularly attend events and meetups focused on start-up tech CEOs growing their businesses.  Regardless of the theme - how to get financing or build a winning marketing strategy - the challenge of finding and hiring great talent always comes up in the conversation!  

 

When projects can’t move forward or sales slow down because hiring isn’t happening fast enough; - this can be big trouble for executives.  It’s hard for organizations of all sizes to recruit the right talent.  And by now, if you’re scaling quickly, you’ve likely experienced the cost and pain of making a wrong hire.

 

Recruiting can be especially challenging when you are new or nobody knows you exist, you’re competing against big brands and big budgets and chances are you’ve tapped out your immediate referral networks.   

 

The good news - recruiting awesome talent for your start-up or growing business isn’t impossible.  Some may argue, ‘there’s no shortage of talent’ - you just don’t have the right strategy to go about finding the best people.

 

If, like most start-ups or growing business you are hoping that everyone wants to work for you because you are unique, your people make the difference, or you have a foosball table with a fully stocked bar fridge, you are mistaken.  No one knows who you are in the job market, so they aren't going to walk in the door resume in hand.  Posting a job and praying the best people are waiting for you - well, as they say ‘hope is not a strategy’.

 

There’s a famous quote from Abe Lincoln, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe."  This is the key to great recruiting.

 

So how are you preparing for hiring?  Here are some tips to give you a competitive advantage and start building a quality talent pipeline.

 

1. Find out what truly makes you unique - conduct surveys and focus groups – internally and externally starting with the people who work for you, and the people who know you (advisors, consultants, family and friends).  Develop an understanding of why people want to work for you and why they stay.  Go beyond your product or solutions and dig deep for the true meaning.  Ask yourself, how you are changing the world or the lives of your customers?  And don’t assume you know what it is.  Take the time to better understand your target audience and what makes you special.

 

Everyone is looking for top talent - your ability to articulate what makes you unique, in a creative and compelling way, beyond the solutions you build, will be a critical tool in your talent strategy.  

 

2. Unlock your online ‘brand real estate’ – social media platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc., have free company review pages where you can develop your company profile, add photos and employee testimonials as insights into your culture.  Get a head start on developing these channels of influence.  According to Glassdoor, 94% of candidates are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages their employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment). (Glassdoor survey, October 2014)

 

No matter how small you are, you have a brand and a culture. Once you start promoting opportunities in your company, people will start looking for information.  Savvy candidates will start looking for evidence that you and your company are as awesome as you say you are. What they find will determine their next course of action - apply or move on.

 

3. Write creative job ads – this takes time and several drafts, maybe even outside help. An awesome job ad could prove to be the key to getting the right, quality candidates applying.  Don’t underestimate this – it can be a huge difference maker!  In our experience, the quality and appeal of your job ad (not to be confused with the formal job description) impacts the quality of the candidate pipeline by up to 80%.  

 

Jobs get ‘served up’ daily through social networks and there’s no better way to get to the passive candidate than tempting them into a conversation with a compelling vision of something better.

 

4. Get a recruiting technology!  There is nothing worse than a tech company recruiting on email!  Your process should be agile and engaging and relevant to this century.  What’s often referred to as ‘inbox recruiting’ is clumsy, cumbersome, and super inefficient for both the candidate and whomever has to sift through all of the resumes.

 

There are many cost effective candidate management solutions on the market that pay for themselves 10X over in time and capability. 

 

5. Rev up your ecosystem – start planting seeds with your referral ecosystem – and not just employees - consider all your ‘Friends of the Firm’ - vendors, customers, advisors, followers, University alumni, friends, local schools – whoever the best talent might be friends or acquainted with.  Don’t just limit your referral bonuses to employees.  There’s a good chance your next hire is a friend of someone you know and cares about your success.  Start nurturing and creating value in those relationships; so when the time comes you can tap in.

 

Failure to plan your recruitment strategy may cost you customers, funding, revenue or worse, a rushed decision on a wrong fit hire.  

 

Recruitment isn’t just posting a job and waiting for candidates to apply. That’s not how you land your best customers and it’s certainly not how you get the best people to share in your vision and want to work hard for you. You’ll need all cylinders activated to get your message to the right people – it takes time, a good process and strategic planning, but it’s not impossible.  

 

Don’t get caught without a customized recruitment strategy. Like Abe and his axe (you knew I was going to come back to that!), invest in the front end of your hiring needs. At TalentMinded, we are expert axe sharpeners.  We help companies scale by providing smart, effective and efficient recruitment processes and strategies that drive profitable results.  If you need a better talent acquisition strategy to help your company grow or just need some good advice on technology solutions or best practices - reach out - we’re passionate about helping great companies scale!