Companies often ask us if it’s true that the best hires come from hiring personal referrals. The answer is — sometimes! According to a New York Times article by Nelson D. Schwartz, employers are increasingly relying on referrals to fill open positions.
In the article, John Sullivan, a human resources consultant states, “Among corporate recruiters random applicants from Internet job sites are sometimes referred to as “Homers,” after the lackadaisical, doughnut-eating Homer Simpson. The most desirable candidates, nicknamed “purple squirrels” because they are so elusive, usually come recommended.”
This is not true! Just because recruiters don’t have a good method for assessing the talent of people who apply online doesn’t make online applicants poor candidates. It just reveals that the hiring company has poor recruiters.
There is no doubt that referred candidates are an extremely important part of the candidate pool. However, substituting a referral for a recruiting process that casts a wide net for all available candidates, screens effectively and identifies the “best available talent” regardless of the source is a mistake.
Relying solely on referrals is both lazy and dangerous. It is lazy because it makes life simpler for recruiters and hiring managers who don’t have a good way to sift through tens or hundreds of possibly more qualified candidates. It is dangerous because people tend to only refer people like themselves. The consequence is that your organization becomes increasing homogenous and less diverse… and this is not only about race or ethnicity. Relying too heavily on a sourcing from referrals is likely to reduce differences in class, education, gender, communication style, behaviors and attitudes that can improve your company.
So, go ahead, reach out for referrals and include them in your recruiting. Just make sure that you don’t short circuit your recruiting process by hiring the wrong person for the job only because they were “referred.” Never hire from a candidate pool of ONE.
What do you think?