Employee Referral Schemes. Do you have one? If not, why not?
Your employees (provided they enjoy working for you!) should be your employer brand ambassadors. They know the ins and outs of what it is like to work for you. They can fly the flag for the amazing business you are building and answer the questions from a perspective that HR can only garner from employee engagement surveys and company marketing materials.
In theory, you also trust (and like) the people you have employed – and surely more people like them within your business can only be a good thing?
So how do you go about it? First tip for a successful employee referral scheme – make sure there is an incentive on offer. In my opinion, gift cards or loyalty schemes are great – but nothing is more effective than an offer of cash. An employee referral bonus if you will. Just make sure that the terms of the pay-out are simple and super clear to avoid any confusion later down the line.
Next – make sure your team actually know it exists. Ensure that every time you have a new role go live on your website, an email goes round the team asking for referrals and reminding them of the referral bonus available. The amount of employers who have these schemes in place, but no-one actually knows about it is crazy.
Look after the referrals. If someone in your team does make the effort to refer a potential candidate, make sure you prioritise and look after them. If they aren’t right for the role, tell the person who referred them, then give the candidate a call and explain directly. If they are a good match for the role, then treat them like royalty. The chances are, as well as being ‘good on paper’, the person who referred them has hopefully done their ‘employer brand ambassador’ duties, assessing them for culture fit, and engaging the candidate with your company and the role.
Finally – don’t be afraid to ask your employee for a ‘character reference’ of sorts before pursuing their referral. Whilst it’s unlikely people will refer someone who is a complete nightmare to work with, it’s always worth asking why they are referring that person, and what they think they could bring to the role or the company.
So going back to my original question. If you don’t have an employee referral scheme in place already – why not?
I’ve recently seen an influx of ‘positive quotes’ and positive messages being bandied around on social media after the sad news of redundancies in the some of the retail sectors big players, B&Q and ToysRUs being two of the most prominent in my feeds.
What struck me is that a lot of the posts – although on the surface offering positive messages and support – were in fact suggesting that being made redundant is something people should be ashamed of, or should try and reframe when writing their CV or as part of their job history – why?
Redundancy is sadly a fact of life in the workplace, and I think it will only be on the increase, particularly in retail or service sectors. Everything is moving online, and more and more processes are becoming automated, meaning that the jobs of tomorrow are probably not the ones that are around today.
I have never known a recruiter to discriminate on the basis of redundancy. If you are concerned, presumably you will be given a formal letter confirming this redundancy? Keep it, and take a photocopy to interviews if you are ever questioned (not that I believe you ever would be!). Being made redundant is completely out of your control, it is a business decision that is (ordinarily) completely unreflective of your work or your contribution to the company – particularly if the redundancy is on a mass scale.
It’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and certainly not something you should try and gloss over or hide when completing a job application or when thinking about how to write a CV.
What you could consider is accepting it as a challenge or a fresh start. Maybe it’s an opportunity to retrain, consider a career change or start the business you have been dreaming of. Consider finding a careers coach to support you with the changes you are facing or do some research on tips for how to write a CV. Perhaps my YouTube video below might help.
So how do you handle redundancy? Own it! Take stock, and make sure that your next career move is the right one for you.
There's no difference right?
Wrong. Really wrong. The two are completely different beasts. A job description is used to define the role. To define what the role is accountable for, the reason for it existing and in some cases for HR and Line Managers to create PDR's and the dreaded annual reviews. Something to measure performance and impact against.
A job advert is used to sell the role and your business. Think of it in the same way you would a product. If you were struggling to find customers for a product, would you use the product specification as the advert? Of course you wouldn't. You would want your customers to know what makes the product amazing, why it's so special and why they absolutely have to buy it.
A job advert is the same thing. The job advert is often the first insight a prospective candidate gets of your business (unless your employer brand is so super that you have candidates queuing up to work with you!) and you need them to be buying into you from that first interaction. The advert needs to tell a story, something compelling that persuades people 'just passing' (passive candidates) that maybe they could be open to looking at something else.
If your ‘job advert’ contains bullet points, preceded by lines such as ‘your key responsibilities will entail’ then who do you think is buying? Probably not the people you are trying to sell to.
Tell your audience what is exciting about your company, and exciting about the role. Why is this role different? Think about the type of candidates you are trying to attract, and talk to them like human beings, in the type of language they would use.
The right job title is also key. Sure your internal job description might read ‘Chief of People Happiness’ but consider what candidates will actually be searching for. Try HR Director either as the job title, or somewhere in the text where the search engines will pick up on it – otherwise, unless you work for a huge global company where you have the audience and the budget to promote anything and everything, no-one will ever find your beautifully crafted ad.
In a nutshell, the differences are vast. Sure, use the job description as the basis for your advert, but a direct copy and paste simply won’t cut it!
Recruitment process automation has a seriously bad rep. Bad ATS and HRIS systems doling out pitiful generic one liners - 'Thank you for your application, we'll be in contact in 3-5 days to process your application further' or the worst culprit of all: 'We're sorry, but due to the high volume of candidates we will only respond to your application if successful'. I'm sorry - what?
I know first-hand (believe me!) how hard it can be if you are actually, genuinely deluged with applications, and are too under resourced to respond to every application individually. But there is a middle ground – a smart, well thought out candidate journey, complimented with timely automation.
Chances are, these ‘send to all’ style messages are also going to the candidates that you do want to speak to. The people that could change, shape and build your company. But what could be more off putting than that initial immediate brush off email? That is the first impression they get of your company and your employer brand. If you are using any of the examples at the top of this article, it aint gonna be a good one!
So if you are using an ATS or any other type of recruitment system (which presumably you are if you are if you are generating automated emails in the first instance) give the process a little bit of love!
Take a look at my guide to basic employer branding and work out your 'language' - your tone, your choice of words as an employer. Then write content that sounds like it could actually have been written by a human being.
Use their first name (most systems will have that as a basic capability). Let them know you are excited they have taken the time to apply to you, and get them excited about your company. The selling process starts right here. Consider giving them an outline of the process - what to expect next from you, and what you might expect from them.
Next, be kind to those who won’t move forward in the process. Don't 'reject' on sight. If you have the capacity to time delay the email, then do. If you don't, make a note in your calendar to go back into the system, bulk sending wherever possible. Ensure that your email sounds like it comes from a human being. And here’s the doozy - don't even mention feedback. The chances are, only a super small percentage will actually come back to you and ask for it, definitely no more than you can handle, and more often than not, no-one at all. And anyways if they are pro-active enough to ask for feedback to help them to improve, maybe they are someone you should be keeping in touch with after all?
If you are trying to keep candidates 'warm' in a process, make it clear (word it appropriately of course!). Keep them in the loop and explain the delays. Pick up the phone. If you like someone enough to potentially employ them, then you need to be in regular communication - particularly if a process is taking a little more time than is ideal. Trust me; your candidates will love you for it!
Deal with arranging the interview directly. Send them an initial (automated, enticing) email to let them know you want to meet them, then pick up the phone to finalise the details. Give them an opportunity to ask any questions, and if you don't do a telephone interview, use this as a chance to start selling the company as a great place to work, and build a rapport. Then an automated (personalised and exciting) email can take care of confirming this in writing.
I'm a huge believer that if someone has taken the time to meet with you, it's only polite and professional to deliver bad news over the telephone. I still think this should be the case, even where you are talking high volume recruitment (assessment centers, graduate assessment days etc.) Let’s be realistic. The vast majority of these conversations take two minutes. Generally you deliver the bad news, the candidate accepts it, and you wish each other well. You can find the time to make these calls! I don’t (personally) think there is any way to automate this without looking like a bad guy. Sorry!
So, I think there absolutely is room for automation in the recruitment process - but done in the right way. Yes, this means a little more time up front to personalise your emails, rather than just accepting whatever comes with the ATS as standard. If you're really serious about it you could even consider hiring a professional copywriter, to refine your tone and help you sell the opportunity to work for your business.
And if you are sitting there reading this article, without any form of ATS or recruitment system that will automate any part of the process, but yet you don't have the time to respond to all of the applications you receive, you're probably thinking I'm crazy to suggest that everyone should get a response. Well if your recruitment is getting that busy, and that time intensive - maybe it's time to think about investing?