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How to Get More Referrals In Order to Maximize Quality of Hire

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In a recent post, I suggested that there are six big data metrics that drive quality of hire. The big one: referrals by recruiter by search project.

The idea is that strong referrals tend to wind up being the best hires. This suggests that recruiters should spend the bulk of their time working to get these referrals. As important, quality of hire can then be predicted 1-2 months in advance by tracking the number of referrals recruiters generate every week.

This is as simple as it sounds.

Of course, there’s always a catch. But before we get to that, let me provide some ideas on how to get more referrals.

An 8-step process for getting more high quality referrals

1. Start every search assignment with this question: “Who knows my candidate?”

At the start of every search, think about the types of people your ideal candidate works with on a regular basis. For example, salespeople work with buyers, designers with product marketers, accountants with operations, software developers with QA and scrum project managers, and so on. These are the people you’ll contact (aka “nodes”) to get referrals.

2. Use LinkedIn to find coworkers you don’t know.

Find some nodes in your company and connect with them. Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to search on their connections using LinkedIn Recruiter and get some great referrals.

3. Ask, “Who’s the best person you know in (field of interest)?”

Calling passive candidates is time-consuming and so is getting the names of whom to call. When I call nodes, I always want the names of the best person the node has worked with in the past. This is how you start getting great leads into the top of your funnel.

4. Search on your connections’ connections.

Another way to get great referrals is to use LinkedIn Recruiter and search your first degree nodes’ connections. When you find a few great people, call your connection (the “node”) and ask about the quality level of the people you’ve identified. Then ask if the node would recommend them. You now have some high-quality passive candidates to contact.

5. Don’t call anyone who’s not an Achiever.

Don’t waste your time calling any passive candidate who doesn’t have some type of remarkable track record or glowing reference. I call these people Achievers. It’s easy to minimize your sendouts per hire by maximizing the quality of the people you present to the hiring manager.

6. Mention the node’s name to maximize your call back rate.

Calling people you don’t know typically results in a 20-25% callback rate. You can triple this by mentioning the name of the person who suggested you call.

7. Only ask questions that get a “yes” answer.

Even if the top person who’s not looking for a new job calls you back, it’s unlikely your open role represents an obvious career move. However, if you ask the person if he or she would be open to discussing the possibility that one of your openings represents a career move, you’ll likely get a “yes” answer.

8. Develop a deeper network of nodes and candidates.

These steps represent the first round in building a network. The likelihood the people you connect with in this first round are a perfect fit for your job is about 50/50. However, if you’ve chosen these people properly, the likelihood the person knows someone who is a perfect fit for your job is better than 75%. So, make sure you connect with everyone who’s not a perfect candidate and start over with Step 3 above.

Final thoughts

While this technique will result in great referrals, you do need to recruit these people. That’s the catch in all of this. It happens at Step 7 when a person says, “Yes, I am open to exploring a possible career opportunity.” When this happens don’t tell him or her much about your job. Instead, get the person to tell you about themself. As the person does this, look for gaps between your open job and his or her background. The difference represents the career move. If it’s big enough, suggest another conversation. If it’s not, move on to Step 8 – connect and expand your network.

There are two types of recruiters. One type focuses on screening and presenting lots of active candidates in the hope that one fits. The other type identifies great people and then calls and recruits them. The first type deserves a modest salary. The second type deserves accolades. If you master these eight steps, you’ll soon be getting accolades.