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Employees Who Hate You - But Refer Candidates To You...

Employees who refer candidates to you love you.  Except when they don't.  Then it's all about the duckets...

Without question, employee referral programs are a must for any organization.  While we can debate the mechanics and details, everyone I know agrees that referral programs produce some of the best hires for any company. 

And it makes sense when you think about it.  Engaged employees who like what they do, where they work Employee_referrals_2and who they work with, refer their friends, neighbors and contacts to you for consideration.  You vet them, hire them, and reap the culture, retention and performance benefits.

What could go wrong?  How about the employee who is not engaged, openly hostile, yet refers a bunch of candidates to you anyway?  What do you do with that?

Been there.  Ugh...

From Adrienne Graham at Corporate Recruiting Diva:

"There are companies that offer a lot of cash for employee referrals. Unfortunately the cash is the only motivating factor for employee referrals. I have heard employees rag on their companies (I won't mention names) but for that $1500 referral bonus, they'll refer all of their friends, neighbors, family, church congregation, momma's bridge club members, etc. I was once at a company where I would get tons of referrals from this one woman. It was outrageous. She referred 27 people to me in a 3 month period. One day, as grateful as I was for the referrals, I had to call her and ask about it. She said that job drained her so she figured she should get extra compensation for it.

So what do you do with referrals from an employee who just isn't that into you?  The disgruntled, the mad, the unapproachable (and your street talent agent?).   For my money, I think you have to take the referral and vet them out - I wouldn't discard them before a solid review.  In my experience, what you'll find with these referrals is that most of them aren't a great match for spots you have open.  After all, the referring employee isn't really in the frame of mind to be selective - they're probably just slinging candidates for the cash.

If the referral survives the analysis, I think it's OK to put them in the process if they deserve that according to their background and skills.  If you get to an interview, it's OK to poke around to see how they know the disgruntled employee.  Once you do that, you'll often find they're more of a passing acquaintance of the employee, and may even give up the fact they understand the employee isn't happy but that doesn't hamper their interest.

Which speaks volumes.  If you get to that point, play on...


Adrienne Graham

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. It's good to see I'm not the only recruiter who has experienced this. I believe that HR needs to examine these issues and figure out how to revamp their retention programs. As I said, while I was grateful for the referrals, there is a huge problem when an employee uses an employee referral program in the hopes of turning it into a second income.

Adrienne Graham

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