It’s Who You Know

By: Leanne Zabriskie

The more recruiting has changed over the years, the more it has stayed the same. While recruiting has become increasingly outsourced and systematized, the most effective recruiting is still about who you know.

The best employee is one who is knowledgeable about your organization, dependable and excited about working with you. These types of hires usually are – or are referred by – people you already know. So how do you tap into existing relationships to optimize recruiting and improve workforce effectiveness?

Boomerang Employees (Employees Formerly Known as Rehires)
The freelancing mentality allows workers to perform a job for a while, leave for one reason or another, and then come back to work at a later time. Instead of feeling betrayed by an employee who left, embrace the “tour of duty” approach to employment. It’s perfectly acceptable for employees to just complete their mission and move on – and it’s also okay to hire that same person again to do another job down the road. Employment doesn’t have to be a lifelong, committed relationship. Boomerang employees know you, know your flaws, and they accept you anyway. They also integrate into your culture and organization faster and require less training, accelerating new hire time-to-productivity.

  • Remember that they’ve probably learned something since they left, so evaluate who they are today, not who they were when they worked with you previously.
  • Actively reach out to your organization’s alumni. Build a community of former employees through social media groups and face-to-face events.

Employee Referrals
People tend to have personal networks of friends with similar backgrounds and mindsets – it’s the whole “birds of a feather” principle. This means that your top performing employees probably associate with other top performers. Your employees’ friends probably already know about your organization and have a better understanding of your business and culture than someone off the street. Studies have also repeatedly shown that referred employees are faster to hire, cost less to hire, onboard faster, and stick around longer.

  • Encourage your employees to refer their friends to your organization.
  • Reward employees for good referrals. Develop a referral program that offers rewards not only for hires, but also for employees who stay and perform well.

Customers, Vendors and Partners
Think about who else you work with on a regular basis. We all have that go-to vendor who always understands our needs, or that partner who spends so much time with us that they already feel like part of the organization. While you may have to consider contractual rules that prohibit recruiting some of these people, this may also be a great source of hires. They know and have done business with you and your organization. They understand your needs and have already proven themselves to be a trustworthy ally.

  • Take a partner to lunch. You might find a new employee, you might learn about someone they know who is looking for a job, or you might just strengthen your existing relationship.

These are just a few tips for how to better leverage your organization’s existing relationships in your current recruiting process. By making sure you have a robust strategy for tapping into the power of people your organization already knows, you can improve employee productivity, increase retention, and reduce hiring costs – all of which help drive workforce competitive advantage.