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5 Great Ways Your Employees Can Help You Hire Smarter Companies struggling to find top talent should look no further than employees' friends and connections.

By Heather R. Huhman

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Companies struggling to find top talent should look no further than their employees' friends. Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like -- because job interviews from employee referrals are much more likely to lead to an accepted job offer.

Related: Hiring Is 'Marketing,' Too: Treat Applicants Like Your Best Customers

A new research report from Glassdoor, for whom I blog, backs this up. The report analyzed a sample of more than 440,000 job interview reviews posted on Glassdoor since 2009 and found that employee referrals increased the odds of a successful job match by 2.6 percent to 6.6 percent.

Personal connections, then, are the key to hiring top talent, yet they aren't often an applicant's source. Connections are used by only about 10 percent of candidates, Glassdoor found.

Managers, however, should take advantage of this resource. Here are some ways to tap into a rich pool of talent through your existing employees' friends and connections:

1. Raise awareness of your available opportunities.

In order to attract talent, people first need to be aware of available opportunities. Second, they need to agree that those opportunities are valuable to their growth and development as a professional.

In fact, 59 percent of people join a company because of the opportunity and a better career path, LinkedIn found in a survey of more than 10,000 people who changed jobs between December 2014 and March 2015.

Don't limit announcing job openings to job boards only. If employees don't know your company is hiring, that gap in awareness issue may be the result of a communications breakdown. Communicate opportunities internally, but also broadcast them on company social media pages. Additionally, place a clickable "join our team" message on the website's homepage for all visitors to see.

2. Show outsiders what it's like to work at your company.

About half of all job seekers, LinkedIn found, say that the biggest reason they're not changing jobs is that they don't what it might be like to work for a potential employer.

Solve this problem at your company by creating a series of culture videos using a channel like YouTube or Vimeo. Or, use apps like Vine and Snapchat to illustrate your company's culture using short snippets. Showcase exciting happenings and office antics so viewers can see what it's like to be a part of your team.

Related: The 7 Deadly Sins of Hiring

Depending on the organization, employees may be able to manage this "culture channel" entirely, taking some of the work off HR's hands (of course review all videos before they're posted publicly). Ask employees to share what they create via social media and watch those videos go viral.

3. Reward employees who refer top performers.

There should be no surprise that the majority (64 percent) of recruiters say referrals produce the highest-quality candidates, according to Jobvite's 2014 Social Recruiting Survey. When employees feel invested in an organization, they won't recommend someone whose skills they don't endorse. After all, this new team member will eventually be partially responsible for the team's success.

Incentivize employees to refer friends and connections, with a bonus or other perks. Reward employees whose referrals stay with the company for a set period of time and perform well. This will ensure a higher-quality talent pool and encourage employees to continue helping the company build a great team through referring connections.

4. Leverage the power of LinkedIn.

About 16 out of every 100 new employees are already connected with someone who works at the company before they are hired, according to LinkedIn data that measured new positions added in October 2014.

Job seekers leverage their first, second and third connections on LinkedIn to introduce them to the right people to land a job. As an employer, why not do the same to meet great candidates? Reach out to connections who have big networks on LinkedIn -- 100-plus connections -- and ask if they know of anyone who might be a good fit for the job at hand.

5. Tap into candidates' social networks, using tech.

If company social media networks are running dry, look at other networks created specifically to help companies find better talent matches through connections.

Use a social recruiting tool like Reflik to connect with independent recruiters who not only find qualified candidates, but can tap into qualified candidates' social networks to find other referrals for the position.

What are some other ways to leverage employee networks to find top talent?

Related: 5 Ways to Better Leverage Your Referrals to Hire Top Talent

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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