How to build diverse teams using credible referral networks

With your talent manifesto and diversity audit in check, the next step is to identify the people who might be interested in participating in your referral network. The more informed and invested in your company they are, the better.

Tinashe Alpha Sibanda

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Referral networks are an excellent way to not only find new passive talent but can be a great way to intentionally diversify your team. At their simplest, they are a group of people who are acquainted with your recruitment team and company, typically through mutual connections, professional or otherwise. This group of people become a primary source of talent referrals to spread the word about your job openings in their own circles to people who may be qualified.

How Credible Referral Networks Work

Credible referral networks are intentional. It is important to qualify who can and cannot be a credible agent of your referral network. The more invested and informed someone is about your company, the more credible they are as a source of quality referrals you can interview or hire. Referral networks differ from other types of recruitment methods in that they allow you to develop relationships with potential candidates prior to hiring them.

Once you ensure that you have identified a “credible” referral network demographic or combination, the next step is to start building one. Most businesses use referral networks to grow their workforce, but not everyone understands how to properly set them up and scale them. In this article, we shall learn how to build a credible, diverse and effective referral network that will help you scale your team more quickly than ever before. Let's get started!

Craft your talent manifesto

The first step in planning your referral network is to ensure that the members of your network understand the kind of talent you are looking for. A good way to do this is using a talent manifesto. A talent manifesto is a document or even a basic guideline detailing your company's core social and performance values, the kind of talent that excel within that value framework, and more importantly, the kind of talent that would not thrive in your ecosystem. If your referral network does not understand your talent manifesto, they'll not only be unhelpful in terms of finding candidates, but may end up generating referrals that are toxic to your company's social and performance culture.

Conduct a talent diversity audit

One of the most pressing issues in business today is diversity. Once you have crafted your talent manifesto, there is a big risk that the kind of talent you have identified as a fit, and excelling in your current ecosystem is at odds with your organization’s future diversity prospects. Simply saying "I'll hire based on diversity" and hoping for the best is not enough. It is widely reported that more diverse and inclusive companies unleash and increase creativity within your workforce, spurring innovation. If innovation and future-proofing your business is not what you are after, then granted, this may not be good reason enough. A good intentional approach is to first, conduct a diversity audit. This audit will help you qualitatively and quantitatively understand where your company is today; if you are running a company that is reflective of the community you serve or monetize, and most importantly if you care at all. If you do not care, it is probably in your best interest to not fall in the common loophole of diversity done for marketing’s sake. Your “diverse” employees will likely struggle to fit in or excel in a culture that is being actively curated without them in mind. When done properly, however, inclusive teams thrive and win together.

Create a credible database of people interested or invested in your company

With your talent manifesto and diversity audit in check, the next step is to identify the people who might be interested in participating in your referral network. You can categorize them as either people who are already directly invested in the company or actively informed on its activities. Invested people start with your employees, then your customers and other stakeholders directly influencing your bottom line. Informed people can include the mutual connections of any of these invested parties, all the way up to people who follow your company’s activity on social media and your blogs.

Once you've identified these potential network members, ensure they understand your talent manifesto clearly so they can intuitively tell who can and cannot fit into your company’s social and performance culture. Additionally, make sure that you are using the insights from your diversity audit to justify who you should be prioritizing more or less as part of your referral network.

Last but not least, following GDPR rules, it is important to make sure these prospective members opt in or consent to receive communications and updates from you.

Define the Referral Management System to use

Once you lay out who qualifies to be part of your credible and diverse referral network, you will need to decide on a channel to keep them updated on all your job openings and key company news. This can be as simple as a mailing list run with a newsletter. Or a more elaborate solution like a Referral Management System (RMS) - which is different from a traditional Applicant Tracking System. An RMS would automate most manual tasks involved with managing your referral community, as well as built-in notifications.

Use a Talent Review System

When you start receiving referrals, they will come in 2 main categories:

Referrals from people who worked directly with the referral
Referrals from people who did not work with the referral directly

Merely collecting CVs is not enough. You will want to put in place a submission system or RMS that makes it easy for you to differentiate between the two. If the person worked directly with the referral, this is an opportunity to capture more insight about why they are recommending them to your company. For this you can use a review system. On KrediblePro, referees can rate and review their referrals based on the following:

Their relationship with them eg ex colleague, manager, customer, mentor, etc.
How long they worked together
If they were paid to do the work
How likely would they recommend them to colleagues or companies they know
How they rate their execution skills (communication, meeting expectations and timeliness) out of 5
Endorse their hard skills
Share more context and specifics around the projects they worked on directly

Additionally, they can add the review as an audio or video submission to complement the text review.

Create an active job posting schedule

You will need to create a daily, weekly or monthly schedule with all the current openings from your recruiting teams and share that ahead of time with your referral community, using your communication channel of choice or Referral Management System.

Set Referral Rewards

To encourage members of your referral networks to make use of their credible networks to support your talent referral sourcing,  you will need to set referral rewards. These rewards can be in cash or kind eg gift cards, or 1 on 1 meetings with your company leadership etc. You can also crowdsource ideas from your database if you are stuck. A good way to think about how much you should pay, can be based on the perceived difficulty in filling the job opening, or its overall importance to the company. You could decide that internship referrals have the lowest referral rewards and leadership positions have the highest. Or maybe your company struggles to hire software developers all the time, and you may want to increase how much you are willing to pay for successful referrals for that particular talent need. And so on.

Start building yours using KrediblePro Reviews and Referral Groups

On KrediblePro, you can combine the power of our credible talent reviews and Referral Groups of any demographic of your choosing, say using your employees for instance. These group members will be the first to receive new job openings from your HR team. They will then be incentivized with rewards to find new talent for your company by spreading the word about these job openings within their networks and assisting you in finding suitable candidates who meet your requirements.

To summarise, this is the step-by-step process:

How to build diverse teams using credible referral networks:

  1. Craft your talent manifesto
  2. Conduct a talent diversity audit
  3. Create a credible database of people interested or invested in your company
  4. Define the Referral Management System (RMS) to use
  5. Use a Talent Review System
  6. Create an active job posting schedule
  7. Set Referral Rewards
  8. Start building yours using KrediblePro Reviews and Referral Groups
This post was originally posted on the KrediblePro blog.
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Tinashe Alpha Sibanda Twitter

Founder, KrediblePro