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Have you tried a referral program for your staffing firm without much success?

If so, we feel you. Many staffing firms try to get referrals going because they are one of the best channels for quality candidates and ROI. Referred candidates tend to come primed for action and qualified for the job. 

If you’ve tried out a referral program and not had success, I bet you we have a good idea why.

Get the bonus content: Checklist: Marketing Your Referral Program

Why manual referral programs don’t work

Your recruiters have a lot going on. They need to create a steady stream of incoming candidates, make sure clients are happy, and hit their placement goals. Most manual referral programs require your recruiters to keep track of candidate info and remember to solicit for referrals.

One thing I hear from firms looking for our help is “I always have to remind my recruiters to mention our referral program!” Yep, it’s probably not that they’re omitting it deliberately, but they have so much going on that they often don’t have capacity to remember. Though they know that referrals are important, other tasks — such as responding to candidate needs or filling an urgent job — take precedent.

Many staffing firms patch together an old-school referral process that relies on their recruiters’ memory. Recruiters must remember to mention the referral program in an email or during a phone call and then record the outcome of the request in a spreadsheet.

You can see how this method can quickly fall apart. Here’s what usually happens:

  • Candidates are only occasionally asked for referrals.
  • Referred candidates are never contacted.
  • Those who make the referrals never receive their bonuses.

This all leads to a poor candidate experience, not to mention a poor recruiter experience. Plus, the firm misses out on their best source of excellent candidates.

Why an automated referral program is the solution

You hear a lot about automation these days. A few years ago, it was seen as a threat to recruiters everywhere. Now, it’s part of the best tech solutions that make recruiting in our competitive market possible.

Why is automation so critical these days?

As Alexander Pope wrote, “to err is human.” We forget stuff. We put things off until later. Or we simply make a mistake while filling in a spreadsheet.

Automation helps you take those errors out of the equation. An automated referral program brings a new level of consistency and efficiency to your referral outreach.

You can get the word out.

You can place more referrals.

And you can deliver a better candidate experience — all while helping your staffing firm grow faster.

What automated referral platforms do differently

Here are some of the key factors that set an automated referral platform apart from old-school methods:

1. Automated referral outreach emails.

No more reminding your recruiters to send out emails for referrals. An automated platform ensures that all of your recruiters send those emails on autopilot.



An automated email workflow will take ambassadors and referrals all the way through the referral process without anyone from your team intervening. Your recruiters can focus on building relationships, helping candidates, and keeping clients happy — and you can watch the referrals roll in.

2. Email signature links.

Market your referral program every time your team sends an email! It’s easy to set up recruiter signatures to include a link to your referral program — and that constant touchpoint is a great way to keep your referral program top of mind.

3. Website forms.

This is a basic marketing tool that a lot of firms are missing out on. A website form gives everyone who swings by your website the opportunity to sign up and participate in your referral program.


4. Website widgets.

You can have widgets set up to pop up automatically on your website and invite people to join your referral program.

5. Automatic tracking.

The real magic happens after someone signs up via one of the methods above. Their information is automatically entered into your referral system, and they’re issued with a unique link so that tracking is simple.


6. Digital recruiter business cards.

This is another great marketing initiative – each recruiter can have their own digital business card that includes a way to sign up for the referral program. You can help your recruiters build their personal brand — while strengthening the reputation of your entire firm.


7. Automated interview scheduling.

With automated interview scheduling, your candidates and referrals can go directly from the referral process to booking time on your calendar. What’s more, whenever your recruiters reach out to schedule chats, interviews, and onboarding discussions — you guessed it — they’ll also be marketing your referral program.


8. Social share buttons.

The easier a referral program is to participate in, the more likely people will take part. Most people spend a lot of time on social media, so it’s super easy for them if they can share to their profiles with one click. Plus, social sharing of your referral program expands your reach. Candidates may be able to think of a handful of people to refer to your company. But their social networks may contain dozens of acquaintances, former colleagues, and new-to-the-job search connections. A social post will reach those hidden gems and extend the reach of your referral program.

Get the bonus content: Checklist: Marketing Your Referral Program

Final thoughts

Your current talent pool has the potential to generate hundreds more referrals for you. Without an easy, automated system in place, that store of gold will remain in the mine.

Tap into your full potential, improve your candidate experience, generate more referral placements, and grow your firm faster with an automated referral platform.