Heleen Stoevelaar: 'Success in referral is not possible without well-thought-out processes' 

A successful referral campaign is not just a campaign that brings in many names. Success also lies in the process, the implementation and the follow-up. Heleen Stoevelaar the Founder & Co-Owner of ONETD Group and The Referral Company, with expertise in Recruitment, Executive Search, and Interim Solutions. explains how this works. 

Nonso Onowu on January 21, 2024 Average reading time: 3 min
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Heleen Stoevelaar: 'Success in referral is not possible without well-thought-out processes' 

We’re excited about having more candidates! It’s great news! However, with more candidates, it becomes crucial to have a strong recruitment foundation in place. Thankfully, over the last 20 years, we’ve automated, innovated, and experimented to stay at the forefront. But, in the ever-evolving recruitment technology landscape, it’s easy to lose sight of the essentials that maintain the ‘human touch’ in our processes. So, what does all this progress mean for referral recruitment? 

Thankfully, over the last 20 years, we’ve automated, innovated, and…

Building a successful strategic referral program within your organization requires careful consideration of processes, effective implementation, and proper execution. Each of these three components are crucial in achieving success with referral. 

#1. A strong process

Consider the details of where, when, and how you can contribute to the referral program. Understand how and where your data, as well as your candidate’s information, will be utilized. Identify who will handle the follow-up and whether there will be any rewards. By thoroughly mapping out the process within the context of your organization, you can pinpoint responsibilities. This not only enhances clarity but also allows you to determine the optimal points for automation and the application of AI. In essence, the goal is to make your process as efficient and effective as possible. 

#2. Smart Implementation

When it comes to implementation, consider aspects such as the campaign page, Applicant Tracking System (ATS), HR System, API integration, reports, timeline, and resource allocation. This comprehensive setup doesn’t happen overnight; typically, the implementation process for a referral campaign spans around 12 weeks on average. It involves careful coordination and configuration of various elements to ensure a smooth and effective campaign launch. 

#3. Strong execution

The execution phase involves the crucial role of following up with both the referrer and the candidate, making it your primary responsibility. When steps 1 and 2 are appropriately organized, the recruitment team can focus on this pivotal task: establishing contact with both parties. Stay updated on progress, provide encouragement, and activate individuals to explore their networks further. Express gratitude genuinely and show sincere interest, actively participating in the process by thinking along and offering support.  

Following up with both the referrer and the candidate is the most important role 

In this system, there are three connected parts where people and machines work together. People and machines influence each other, making sure that the personal, human element stays important in every step of your referral process. 

Overwhelmed by success

Back in January, a hiring manager reached out excitedly. They had launched a successful referral campaign in October 2022. Eager to show gratitude, they planned to reward everyone who nominated a candidate and offer additional incentives upon acceptance and after the probationary period. The referral machine was in full swing! 

‘What success?’ I asked. “You only had one job!” 

However, three months later, the hiring manager was facing challenges. Many of the submitted candidates were not suitable for the organization, and there was a lack of communication with colleagues who had made referrals. They were overwhelmed by success… ‘What success?’ I asked, pointing out that their main task was pretty straightforward, and yet they struggled with it.  “You only had one job!” but they didn’t handle it well. 

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