Referral Programs — Not Just for Employees

Today I received an email from Brittany at SoftwareAdvice, a great company that we’ve known about over the years as a trusted resource for customers seeking to navigate the options of vertically-specific software vendors in the HR market.  Simply put, they sell very high-value leads to select software vendors, which they acquire by offering extremely thorough insight into the best available vendors in a specific category.  They are the Nordstrom Personal Shoppers of the software world.

Brittany suggested I take a look at a blog post recently published by their COO, Austin Merritt, on their 500 Bucks Program.   SoftwareAdvice subscribes to the notion that while only a select few individuals pursue recruiting in a professional capacity, every human being has relationships with other human beings that can be leveraged as part of talent acquisition.  Besides employees, the logical first place to look for referrals, there’s an extended network of prospective referrers that comprises customers, vendors, fans, friends of friends, available to be tapped for warm candidate referrals.

And SoftwareAdvice does just this, even giving the program a fancy title.

Austin’s perspective aligns well with my own.  When I first started Referagig, I wanted to create a simple platform for anyone to build and manage an “affiliate program” for their open jobs.  The original idea was to let recruiters invite their personal and professional contacts into a system where each user would get a custom “affiliate” link for all of the jobs that recruiter was working to fill.  The recruiter would offer a reward of some sort for a successful referral (that gets hired) and perhaps even a pay-per-candidate spiff.  Creative sourcing, a new way to generate candidate flow without depending on the job boards or resume databases.

The market has also implemented Austin’s line of thinking into real-world “marketplaces” where companies can offer bounties for successful candidate referrals, to anyone willing to take the time to make them.  The most recent iteration of this was TopProspect, which appears to now be defunct, a fate suffered by other referral marketplaces over the years (key reasons:  strangers don’t have a vested interest in attracting talent to an organization they have no connection to, and affiliates interested only in making a profit from a referral likely wont be the best source of quality referrals.)

But I love Austin and SoftwareAdvice’s approach to recruiting, and there’s plenty to take away from their strategy.  Every company, no matter how large or how small, should be focused each day on cultivating a network of “brand advocates” that will do whatever they can to help the brand continue to thrive and flourish, least of which is referring prospective candidates for open jobs.

If you are part of an organization that carries a respected brand identity, all you need to do is ask.