Finding qualified workers isn’t getting any easier — in fact, 45% of hiring managers say they have open positions they can’t fill, according to a Harris Poll survey commissioned by Express Employment Professionals. This percentage is at its highest point since the study began in 2020.

Why are these positions still open? Simply put, because they aren’t getting enough applicants. Many hiring managers (40%) say they can’t find applicants in general. And even if they are getting applicants, they struggle to find candidates with the right experience (47%), hard skills (46%), and soft skills (31%). 

Most U.S. companies (91%) are anticipating more hiring challenges this year, the most common being finding qualified candidates (52%), more competition in the job market (31%), and no matching candidates in the available talent pool (27%). 

So how can you get the candidates you need before your competition? There’s never been a better time to tap into the power of referrals. 

Find candidates who are a better fit

When you ask people in your network for referrals, you’re asking people who are already familiar with your brand and your jobs. They may even know what it’s like to work with your recruiters or go through your interview process. So they have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a candidate.

With this knowledge, they’ll be able to identify people in their network who are a good fit for your open jobs. This means referred candidates are more likely to have the right qualifications, skills, and experience than those who come in from job boards. 

Secure job candidates who stay

Besides not getting enough applicants, many hiring managers (35%) are expecting increased turnover at their companies this year. And that turnover is expensive — it costs companies an average of $62,542 to replace employees each year, and almost a quarter (23%) of hiring managers report a cost of at least $100,000 a year. 

The good news is the more referrals you hire, the more you’ll reduce these turnover costs. That’s because referred hires tend to stay in their placement longer — 70% longer on average — than non-referrals. As a bonus, employees who refer others to open jobs at their company also stick around longer. 

Hire from your own personal talent pool 

When you post on job boards, you’re drawing from the same population of candidates as your competitors. This makes it harder to fill your open jobs with top talent.

Successful referral programs, however, create a unique pool of qualified talent you can’t find on job boards. These candidates come from people in your own network — often, they’re candidates your competition isn’t looking at. So you can focus on building strong relationships rather than rushing to hire before another company snatches your talent. 

Over time, you may even be able to hire completely from your referral network and leave those expensive job boards behind. 

If you’re ready to start getting more referrals from your own unique network, check out our free Referral Program Best Practices & Benchmarks ebook or sign up for a demo with our team to learn how automated referral management can help.