The referral buzz

Oh the noise about referrals over the last month or two is making my head hurt. Who is right and who is wrong? Is it ethical is it not? Do they work or not? I just don’t know. What I do know is all western world countries are heading down the same path.

Skills Shortage!

We all have very similar issues. Ageing workforce, multiple generations, growing economies, competitive offshore outsourcing offerings to deal with. We are all trying to understand engagement and how that influences retention. But what can the average HR professional do?

Unfortunately I do not have all the answers, and if you have read this blog for a while you will realise I tend to just create questions.

Then this morning I read something that made me really think. Are referrals the long tail of the recruitment industry? Now I am not sure John’s article fully explores the concepts and he does drop back into the looking at the viability of online referrals but that little phrase has had me going all day. Thanks John I will send you the bill for my drop in productivity! Below are some rough thoughts on this.

If you do not know the long tail, well I could explain but it would be wrong so go read the original Wired article and then come back, I’ll wait….. Back good. Its a numbers game basically. To quote John

That’s where the niche is small and the customer desires so specific that you can really deliver service.

For the recruitment outcome to be a success you need to get the right candidate and the long tail might be where these people are. To find referrals in the long tail we need to make sure that we target the niche group of potential candidates who make up this referral market. John makes this point loud a clear. It is in this area where CRM, personalisation, data mining and other techniques that are used by the Amazon’s of the world will really begin to add value to an organisation. Imagine a recruitment toolset that is tracking the movements of potential candidates/referrers. Mapping the social interactions and networks that are used by the potential candidate/referrers. These are the same tools and techniques being used by companies like Amazon to personalise an experience with their organisation. Lets take this a step further, imagine if the tool was integrated into the corporate web site and if a candidate/referrer landed on the site specific advertising or messages would be delivered to them to ensure you got access to the niche. Maybe you even customised the banner advertising on other sites to drag them in, this is technically possible through advertising networks.

“Welcome back Michael, by the way we are looking for experienced network engineers and offering $1,000 per successful placement would you be interested in helping us out?” Because you have collected background information about this person you are now targeting the niche. Ok you might not know the name of the person but you get the idea. And yes this could be classified as underhanded tactics in the same manner as some of the previous discussions but marketers are doing it all the time for product sales, and let’s face it a vast amount of attraction today is just that marketing.

This might only relevant for certain industry groups and certain roles, but then so is an online referral program and as John pointed out many could just end up as untargeted email floods, even spam.

Look for another post tomorrow on retention, once you snag the right candidate.