“Great Job Alert:” Why Social Referrals Work

October 28, 2013 5:42 pm Published by Kate Stull

I just spent a full minute reading through a job listing for a communications role at a local hospital, even though I’m not looking for a new job. I spent a full minute reading that listing even though I’m not a communications specialist and I have no experience working for a hospital. I spent a full minute running through my mental list of friends who are looking for new positions, wondering if there were any that I could refer to this job listing that I hadn’t even known about 60 seconds earlier.



Because one of my Facebook friends linked to it, with a simple three-world status update: “Great job alert!”

We often don’t realize the impact that social proof has on us. I’m not even particularly good friends with the person who posted this link, but simply by virtue of it being from someone I know and respect, this person’s validation of “great job alert” was enough to convince me to not only look at the listing but also want to share it with my “real-life” network.

The power that our social connections have on us cannot be underestimated. And that is why we, as people who do hiring (whether you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager), must understand how to leverage the power of our networks–both online and offline.

Referrals account for over 80% of hires, and studies have proven that referral candidates stay longer and perform better than application-based hires. So how can you leverage social proof and increase your number of amazing referral hires?


  • Use social media, but not like a robot. Too many job listings are generic and vague. If you are trying to hire passionate, talented candidates, then you have to meet them on the same level. Have personality, crack a joke, list specific problems they’ll get the chance to solve, and tell them how important they’ll be to your team. Get them excited about you. The more passionate your ad, the more passionate the responses will be.


Advertise positions on your personal social media accounts (not just the company ones) and leverage the power of your personal network and reputation to get great candidates. Encourage your whole team to do so, and your reach will grow exponentially. If people who work at the company are excited about recruiting, it helps to make candidates feel confident that it’s a great place to work.


  • Go to the communities your candidates are in. If you’re hiring developers, ask the developers you know where they like to go online. Odds are, they go to at least some sites specific to developers, where they can read about engineering topics and news, as well as talk to other professionals in their field. 


The more accurately you can target your desired candidates on their online turf, the more likely you are to get highly qualified responses to the ads you place there. You’ll also demonstrate an understanding of the candidates you are recruiting. By showing up with job listings where they already are, you build trust, because you are being knowledgeable and proactive about finding them.


  • Tell anyone and everyone you’re hiring. Too many people forget the power of their connections when it’s time to hire. Even people who you have just met recently may have an amazing friend or former coworker who could become your next, awesome new hire. Add a note to every email you send: “By the way, we are hiring for _______ right now, so if you happen to know anyone great who might be interested, I’d love to connect with them.”


  • Put hiring alerts in your email signature. Similar to the above strategy, adding “We are hiring!” to your email signature will greatly increase the number of responses you get. Link to your job listing page not just from your personal emails, but also from any newsletters or mailing lists your team sends out. Readers will feel like they’re getting insider info, which sparks their interest–plus, if they’re subscribed to your newsletter, they already trust and like your brand, which makes them more likely to apply or share the ad with qualified contacts of theirs.


In other words, you have to get out there and make friends with the communities you want to hire from. Host an open house in your office, or sponsor a local Meetup. Sponsorships can often be obtained for as little as $100, so it’s a cost-effective way to get your name out there as a supporter of the community whose Meetup you help sponsor.

Show up, and connect with people. Have conversations with as many people as you can and let them know you’re hiring. Give a talk or presentation and explain some of the exciting projects your team is working on. Follow up with people over email.

Think about it: if a stranger tells you about a new job, you might listen, but you don’t really have any good reason to trust them. But if your best friend tells you about a new job, you’ll take them seriously and are more likely to want to learn more and apply. Create real connections with people by meeting them face-to-face and showing them exactly why they need to join your team.

Success is all about relationships, and you can vastly improve your hiring success if you start leveraging your existing relationships and creating new ones with the people you want to recruit. All you have to do is reach out and make it easy for great people to find you.


Kate Stull is the co-founder of popforms, a startup that is building tools to help enlightened leaders and teams work better together. She is also the co-creator of Recruiting Hacks. You can find her on the popular popforms blog and follow her on Twitter @katestull.

This post was written by Kate Stull

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