How To Encourage Current Employees To Refer New Employees

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There are no shortcuts when it come to referrals. If you’re operating a good business and you treat people well, you will likely get referrals. This is in terms of new customers, but also future employees. Your current employees are one of your top sources for new employees. If they are having a good experience with you they will feel emboldened to spread the word and the wealth.

So it’s a long-term effort. It’s a lot of little things. Building a culture of respect and financial reward. Perhaps flexibility. Also something that is fulfilling to current employees.

Here are a few other thoughts on how to encourage current employees to refer new employees.

1. Communicate New Openings

One of the first things you should do when you have a new opening is announce it to current employees. The method will vary depending on your business. How big it is. If you’re remote or in the office. All kinds of things.

But you can tell them in person. You can post the opening somewhere in the office. And you can let them know where to find the listing and details online.

You can send an email with all the information about the opening to the team. Most situations today make it easy for them to share news like this. An email can be forwarded. A link can be copied and shared via text.

2. Re-Communicate Ongoing Openings

Don’t just share an opening one time. If the opening remains after a month, include it in the next employee email newsletter. Let them know if anything has changed about the opening. Maybe you changed the description. You could even ask for help in wording the description if you’re struggling to find new people.

It’s easy to think that a position will be filled. So most may just overlook the first notice. But if you follow up it serves as a reminder and possibly as more incentive for your team to refer others to the position.

3. Assess Early To Create Appropriate Expectations

When you do get referrals from employees try to assess the candidate as soon as possible. It really starts by setting expectations about the type of person you’re looking to hire. Then when your team brings you people to try to make a decision early. You don’t want to keep them waiting for a long process. This can deter them from suggesting people in the future.

4. Communicate Timeline With Both People

Once a referral is made try to set a timeline right away. Then stick to it. Suggest when an interview will take place. Suggest how many other applicants there are and how that process will go. You want to keep the potential employee and the current employee in the loop. The more upfront you are about the process the more likely people are to participate beyond the first referral.

5. Accept That You Will Hire Some Folks That Don’t Work Out

You probably want to lean toward hiring people that your team suggests. Trust that they are doing vetting on their own. They know their friends and family. They know past coworkers. They have put those people through a filter and if they are suggesting them you have to lean into that trust.

Will it lead to 100% success? No. There are too many factors. But if you accept that you’ll hire some folks that don’t work out it can lead to a steady stream of referrals from employees. If they refer someone they want to see that person hired. So you have to let them be successful in doing it.


Getting referrals from current employees is a long-term situation. It can be really great when you’re a startup and don’t have time to go through regular hiring procedures and you need to bring on people that your team trusts. But it can be beneficial no matter your type of business. Fostering this type of culture can lead to some good hiring for years to come.

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