Hiring via Employee Referrals? Avoid These Common Mistakes

With so much competition in the job market, employers are no longer flipping through a stack of resumes to make new hires -- instead, they're turning to employee referrals to find the best candidates.

Hiring via employee referrals has a slew of benefits: It can be a great way to ensure new hires are a good fit for company culture, and it speeds up the hiring process. Typically, hires made from employee referrals are completed in 29 days, compared to hires made from job boards (39 days) and hires made from career sites (45 days).

If your company is looking to glean information on a great job candidate, don't make these mistakes when hiring via employee referrals:

Keeping candidates out of the loop
Too often, companies leave job candidates with nothing but silence for weeks on end. Frustrated job seekers will often turn back to the employee who referred them in an attempt to get news. Make a point to keep job candidates and employees who have made referrals in the loop during the entire hiring process. Keep employee referrals separate from other job candidates' resumes and keep track of who referred them to ensure you can give notice when their resume has been reviewed or if you're looking for a follow-up interview.

Asking for Web-based interactions only
Today, more than 70 percent of job candidates report using their mobile devices to look for jobs. Ensure your job application process is mobile-optimized so referral candidates have an easy way to access your company's career site. Work with your IT department to provide a simple way to link to a resume or send a question via mobile devices or on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Using an ATS
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) often help recruiters sort through candidates by scanning documents like resumes and cover letters for keywords found in the job description. However, these systems are flawed because they reduce candidates to keywords, and don't assess a candidate's abilities, ideas, or insight. When making hires via employee referrals, resist the urge to run their resumes through an ATS. Instead, use a VIP channel to keep job candidates gleaned via employee referrals a priority in your hiring process.

Skipping rewards
If employees aren't recognized or rewarded in some way for making referrals, chances are they won't make a point to do it again, and other employees won't be incentivized to help with the hiring process, either. Ensure those who make employee referrals are rewarded in some way -- a lump sum payment or referral bonus is an option, but consider rewards that can be spread around. Try giving out small prizes to all employees who referred job candidates, or raffle off something big like a TV. Just make sure to always reward when the candidate is referred, not hired, which often happens weeks or months after the employee originally referred a great candidate.

Hiring via employee referrals can be a great way to get access to job candidates who already fit your company culture and know a bit about your organization. Avoid these mistakes when hiring via employee referrals, and your hiring process will improve overall.

What other mistakes do employers make in the employee referral process? Share in a comment below!

Kes Thygesen is the co-founder and head of product at RolePoint, a complete social recruiting suite that provides unrivaled access and reach to quality job candidates. Connect with him and RolePoint on LinkedIn and Twitter.