SEPTEMBER 30, 2021


  • Show WHY employees should care about referrals. Whether it’s an extra benefit to them or a chance to give a friend an opportunity, there should be a clear-cut incentive for employees to bother with referrals. 
  • Don’t make it hard for employees. Employees should immediately know where to go for a referral and how to do it. Craft messaging and material so that employees aren’t confused or turned off by the prospect of making referrals. 
  • Go to the right people. There’s no use asking an employee to make a referral for a position they know nothing about. Your chances of success are better when asking for a referral from someone whose job is adjacent to the open position.


Most businesses know just how potent referral programs can be. Referral programs are beloved by recruiters because it allows them to expand their talent pool, hire faster, are likely to produce candidates who stay longer, save on recruitment costs, and much more.

However, the fact is that the success of a referral program depends on the willingness of employees to participate (they’ll be making the referrals after all). Unfortunately, despite referrals accounting for 40% of all hires only 7% of applicants are referrals—representing a missed opportunity for businesses everywhere.

The truth is that no matter how well-structured your employee program is, some employees will still choose to ignore it. In the article below, we go over why employees are ignoring your referral program. 


No incentives/the wrong incentives

Employees are busy, so there needs to be a clear incentive for them to take time out of their day and participate in the referral program.

Many companies use cash as an incentive, such as offering a small bonus in the next salary for every candidate that’s successfully hired.

Yet not all incentives have to involve paying employees. In the case of consulting and professional services firm Accenture, the company’s referral program chooses to make employees feel good about their referrals by reminding them of how they’d be helping a friend gain a new opportunity.

Freelancing marketplace Fiverr even makes a game out of referrals. For every successful referral, a user on the platform makes, they gain points that move them up on a Fiverr leaderboard. Based on their position on the leaderboard, Fiverr gives the top users gifts on a quarterly and yearly basis. 

Lackluster messaging

A referral program can have the best incentives but it will still be ignored if employees are hardly aware it even exists.

Any announcement about your referral program needs to be accompanied by a strong, attention-grabbing headline on why employees should participate. Customer referral programs, for example, have mastered the art of catching customers’ attention with headlines such as: “Invite your friends and earn a free ride” or “Tell your friends about us and you both get $20”.

Businesses should modify headlines like the above to speak to the benefits of referring someone they know for an open position. For example: “Invite your friends for a life-changing opportunity” or “Get your friends on the team for a bonus unlike any other”. 

Additionally, messaging also extends to your program’s landing page if you’ve set up an online site for it. A messy, convoluted landing page will give employees the impression that referrals are a tedious process that isn’t worth it. 


Employee referral landing pages should take a page from what customer referral landing pages look like. Aside from an attention-grabbing headline all of the best ones have the following:

  • Easy navigation. Upon visiting your landing page, people should know right away how to make a referral. Avoid putting too many bells and whistles that detract from what users should be focusing on.
  • Imagery. There needs to be an image taking center stage that tells your company’s story at a glance and/or excites viewers. Great imagery will set the tone for how the viewer feels about the rest of your referral program.
  • Include a call to action. Users need to know what their next move should be. If possible, there should be a button where viewers can easily make a referral (or whatever else your goals may be). 

Targeting the wrong audience

Sometimes employees ignore calls for referrals simply because they’re the wrong audience for it. It doesn’t make sense, for instance, to ask the IT department to look for graphic designers given that they are vastly different fields.

Your business will have the best success asking for referrals from people whose positions are adjacent to what you have an opening for. Employees are likely to have a vast professional network you might not even know about and they’ll also have an easier time reaching out to candidates who aren’t even actively job seeking.

Thus, rather than releasing a blanket call for referrals from everyone in the organization, take time to approach employees familiar with the position that needs filling.


Taking the work out of referrals

Referrals are hard work and it’s understandable that many businesses don’t have time to properly fulfill them, even despite their benefits.

This is where firms such as Recruitday come in. Recruitday’s MS Tools make running referral programs much easier for both the employees and for the HR department. The firm’s MS tools split into two apps called the Employee App and the Recruiter’s App, both with features tailored to the different roles. With the Employee App, the app readily tells them how much an impact/the progress their referral is making. On the other hand, the Recruiter’s App lets HR personnel streamline their referral program by accessing key metrics that tell them where their program can improve. 

Reaching out for help from experts such as Recruitday allows your business to quickly improve your approach to referrals so employees will want to participate, while also freeing up time and other resources to focus on other business-critical functions.

There’s too much at stake to let employees remain disinterested and disengaged with your organization’s referral program. If your employees aren’t helpful at first in getting new talent to your organization, that’s no reason to give up.



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SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

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