“Recruiting is a behavior that needs to be taught and learned by your employees.”
That’s what Andrea R. Bucci, recruiting manager at Gateway Engineers, a civil engineering firm based in Pittsburgh, recently told my team about her company’s recruitment challenges. Bucci’s observation rings true, but is often overlooked by employers.
While recruiting comes naturally to many company leaders, employees may not have the same knack for attracting candidates -- both passive and active.
This isn’t due to a lack of passion for their careers or companies, but rather a lack of knowledge. They likely do not understand what to look for in job seekers, how to talk about their company without feeling salesy, or even where to find new recruits.
Many company leaders look to their team as brand ambassadors -- and they should. However, when those ambassadors aren’t properly trained and prepared to attract talent, companies’ lose out on quality referrals and potential talent.
When employees are given effective tools to help attract top talent, they feel excited to participate in something so important. Bucci explained, “Our employee referral culture has really boosted morale, and it’s even easier to transition and onboard new referrals because they already have a co-worker to put them at ease.”
Here’s how leaders can take the next step and prepare their team to be brand ambassadors:
1. Calm their fears.
Nobody wants to make a bad employee referral.
Bad hires cost companies time, money, morale, and customers -- and employees aren’t just aware of this, they want no part of bringing a bad hire to the team. After interviewing her team to find out why they weren’t referring talent, this is exactly what Bucci discovered.
“Our employees were afraid to refer someone in the event they didn’t work out,” she shared.
Turning team members into effective brand ambassadors begins with taking the pressure off. This is especially important because 52 percent of U.S. and Canadian recruiters rely on employee referrals as their top channel for finding quality hires, LinkedIn recently revealed in their U.S. and Canada Recruiting Trends 2017.
Let employees know the company has a safe and thorough recruiting process in place. Walk them through each step that’s taken after an employee referral is submitted. This will let them know if a bad hire is made, they won’t personally be held accountable.
Even after leader’s explain that employees are safe from any and all scrutiny when making an employee referral, some employees may still be hesitant to offer a suggestion. It’s important to create a channel where team members can make anonymous referrals. This allows them the satisfaction of contributing to the company, while not fearing the "what ifs."
2. Offer brand ambassador training.
Companies with a strong culture already have teams full of potential brand ambassadors. But if they don’t understand how to put this knowledge and love for their company into play, their ambassadorships will go to waste.
Make employee referrals part of your company culture by adding training that focuses on recognizing and discussing opportunities. However, it’s important not to overwhelm team members by adding training on top of their regular work days. Cut out specific time during the day when they can truly focus and exercise their outreach and brand ambassadorships.
During training, explain why being brand ambassadors is important for the company and their success. Then, set up employee groups so they can practice approaching talent and discussing why their company is a great place to work.
For Bucci’s team, offering training and making employee referrals part of the company culture gave employees a whole new outlook on the hiring process. “Teaching employees certain talking points, where to look for potential referrals, etc. made them view the referral process as developing business for the firm,” she said.
3. Make your job openings known.
Once employees are set up and confident in branding, it’s an employer’s job to make sure they are aware of all job openings. Having a disorganized hiring process will make it difficult for employees to see or even begin looking for talent.
Because competition for talent is a recruiter’s number one challenge, according to the previously mentioned LinkedIn report, employees need resources to quickly get the word out about job openings. Create an easy-to-use system where employees can see available positions and job requirements. Add tips on each opening that will help employees know what to look for in talent.
For example, if hiring for a position requiring a great deal of technical skills, list those skills along with the personality traits that person should possess. This will help team members find passive candidates even when they may not be out looking specifically for job seekers.