How To Engage Employees To Identify Top Connections

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 10, 2016 1:12:14 PM / by Andy Wolfe

Andy Wolfe


It's no secret that employee networks are full of great candidates, but did you know that companies only regularly hire from a pool of about 5-10% of their employees' connections? This is because: (1) most of an employee's connections are not very strong (e.g. they're acquaintances from a conference), (2) most of an employee's former colleagues aren't the standout few who were fantastic, and (3) most employees don't regularly participate in even the most robust employee referral programs. Probably no big suprises, here, but the implications are.

We've already seen that big bonuses are not that effective in identifying top employee connections; so, how do you drive participation and find more great people?

Be Proactive

Where exactly in employee networks to the best hires originate? How do you separate your employees’ college drinking buddies, from the people they met at conferences, from those extra-talented unicorns at the top?

ROIKOI has found that great hires come from only 7% of employee networks. How, then, do you isolate this subset of the network?

Proactively mine your employees' connections — don't wait for magic referrals to come to you.

How To Get Employees to Participate

Now that you have a system, how do you drive participation?

If you make it easy for employees, the majority will participate.

To test it out, walk by the desk of 10 employees in their first 30 days and try this script:

Hey Christian, I’m Andy. How’s it going so far at ROIKOI? Well, as you know, we’re hiring like crazy right now, and as a recruiter, I’m always trying to find more great folks like you. Tell you what — would you be willing to do me a quick favor and help me find some great folks you know?

If they say they’d be happy to but are busy, come back later. Otherwise, if they’re up for it:

Awesome, thank you so much. This will really help me out. Ok, let’s pull up your connections. As we scroll through them, just say the name of anyone you see who you’ve loved working with in the past, no matter what job they do, where they live, where they work, or even if they’re looking for a job. Cool?

Start out by reading the names of people you see. Scribble down the ones your new friend identifies as great, and let him/her know that you’ll review each of their contacts in-depth and reach out if you think someone might be a fit. This process is particularly effective with new employees who were just hired from employee connections themselves.


Let’s review. All you’ve done is de-construct the regular referral process in a way that’s much more convenient for employees. They are pointing out the one valuable thing they know from screening the people in their network: who they would love to work with again. Then, you get to go through all the pre-vetted candidates to see who you think is the best fit for your open positions. Now that's called simple division of labor.

If this works for you, scale it one step further. Bring in some pizza at lunch and invite 10 more employees to do the same in a group. Earn their trust by explaining how all the information will be used in granular detail, and answer any questions that arise. If there are concerns, remember that usually 10-20% of employees prefer not to give out this kind of data anyway. Focus on that 80-90% who will participate  you can think of this as a smarter sourcing process



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Topics: Recruiting, Referrals, Sourcing, Hiring

Andy Wolfe

Written by Andy Wolfe

I'm co-founder and CEO of ROIKOI, a smarter sourcing platform where you get your own database of candidates pre-filtered for talent and fit.