Some business owners and HR professionals sometimes wonder: How do I find employees by using word-of-mouth recruiting?

How Do I Find EmployeesToday, we’re turning to HRwisdom contributor Dunya Carter for some advice.

Over to Dunya . . .

How Do I Find Employees Using Word Of Mouth Recruiting?

Transforming an Old Model: Word-of-Mouth Recruiting

The world may be immersed in social media, but the most satisfying interactions online are more about personal connections than they are about technology. People want to feel connected to other people. Why not use that need for connectedness to boost your recruiting strategy through word-of-mouth? 

Strategies for Word-of-Mouth Recruiting

Offer referral bonuses. Pay or otherwise reward your workers for referring qualified candidates. Gamification can make it competitive and fun. You can reward workers at the time of the referral and again when new hires have proven themselves. Engaging workers in the recruiting process increases morale and and employee loyalty. Good workers want to work with others who will do a good job, so they are likely to refer people who are a good match for your company.

Support professional networking. Encouraging employees’ memberships in professional organizations is a win-win in any organization. Employees refresh and revitalize their knowledge about your profession at professional meetings while making personal connections with possible recruits for your business.

Encourage using social media for recruitment and networking. People pay less attention to your business’s social media activities than they do to their friends’ social media postings. So reward your employees for posting job ads or company marketing on their social media pages. That might mean that information about your engineering firm is tucked between cute baby pictures and George Takei’s memes, but that might be the perfect spot to catch some interest. It’s just schmoozing in a digital age.

Transform the career fair. Don’t just send your recruiters to these events. Take your best and most positive employees along to talk to people face-to-face about what it’s really like to work in your company. Add a kiosk with employee testimonial videos and you will entice even more job-seekers to stop at your booth.

Support word-of-mouth recruiting. If you want your employees to help recruit for your company, you have to make sure that they have a positive message to spread. Your organization needs to have a positive feel, and you need to make sure that they know enough about the company–not just their own department–to talk about it knowledgeably. What people tell others about the company and the culture can’t really be controlled, so be sure that there are lots of positive things going on that you want to have spread to future recruits and give them resources like a career site to share. Your employees can post a link to the site or direct their friends to the site to help keep the message of your brand unified. 

Benefits and Drawbacks to Word-of-Mouth Recruiting

The most talented job-seekers will be comparing a variety of workplace options. People consult with their friends when learning about an organization, and word-of-mouth can make your company more attractive to highly skilled candidates. However, word-of-mouth recruiting can also backfire on you if your workplace is not a great one for employees. If your organizational culture is in a negative place right now, work on building morale before you start building a word-of-mouth recruiting program.

Relying too heavily on word-of-mouth recruiting will limit your applicant pool, which can be a problem. If you lack diversity in your company, you will find that referrals tend to merely add to the homogeneity. However, if you have some diversity in your company already, you can build on that strength through this recruiting strategy. 

Overall, building a corporate culture to support word-of-mouth recruiting is good for your company. A positive organizational culture makes employees more loyal and productive and gives them a persuasive message to share with the world. Employees that are active professionally stay up-to-date on innovations and activities outside your company, enhancing your core mission. In general, word-of-mouth recruiting is an excellent asset to add to a company’s recruiting toolbox.

Dunya Carter is a Brisbane-based marketing and HR consultant and blogger. She is currently working for Ochre Recruitment, a leading Australian medical recruitment agency. She contributed articles to many international HR industry websites and blogs including The Fordyce Letter, College Recruiter, Colleague and others. Get in touch with Dunya via Twitter.