Employer advocacy is a key concern for many HR professionals. We’ve seen a great trend towards HR referral programmes these past years, which is an impressive move in the right direction. One question that keeps coming to us, however, is this one: “Referrals are great for finding technical experts, but do they work with students?” If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here’s the one-word answer: “Yes”. If you do, then go ahead!
The power of shared values to source young talent
A key element of finding a good job is shared values. We can’t stress it enough, young talents are looking for meaning in their professional life. It’s also a given that friends generally have similar values and interests, at least on some aspects. Young talents will be attracted by a referral given by a friend of theirs, which shows that their values will be respected and that they will be a good culture fit for your company.
Have you heard of the two-side guarantee in referrals? Not only does your employee recommend a friend to you, but they also recommend your company to their friend. This follows the simplest concept of employer advocacy: to ensure good employer branding, do your best so employees will talk about how happy they are working for your company.
Easier sourcing with similar profiles
Students show a clear tendency of socialising with people from their higher education institution rather than outside of it. This was first studied in 1994 and published in The Social Role of the University Student, a book by Florian Znaniecki.
This is good news for you. When sourcing profiles from a given institution, alumni bonds with students and former students of this institution are strong and they will be able to find and recommend profiles similar to theirs, much easier than any headhunter would. This is amplified by the fact that we are talking about young talents here: people with great education, but not necessarily much experience, which makes them hard to find on the usual sourcing channels.
Word of mouth is already very strong among young talents: go one step further with a standard referral process and you will have a rock-solid recruiting pipeline from the institutions you target. We will be making a blog post soon on how to build a great referral plan for young talents in your company: stay tuned!
Ensuring employee loyalty with referrals
Not only do referrals help with hiring, they also have an impact on fostering company loyalty among young talents. A person working with friends won’t quit; a person who enjoys their job and recommend it won’t quit; a person who knows a referral bonus is on the line won’t consider looking for other opportunities. Referrals are far from only being about sourcing, and you can make the most of them to retain and delight your employees as well.
The specific case of internships
You can leverage the power of referrals to let interns find their own replacement when they leave by setting up a simple process.
Encourage your interns to post on their professional social networks, their institution’s social media groups, as well as on the Career Center where they will have the special status of “alumni”, even if they are still students. Again, they can leverage the power of recommendation if they enjoyed their internship, posting a tidbit about their own experience as interns in that role and giving prospective applicants a way to contact them for more information or to answer their questions.
Everyone benefits from this, especially the prospective applicant who gets an insider view of the recruitment process and of the role. The current intern can tell them more about whether the internship is a good fit for them and whether they have a chance of being recruited, and give them a lot of useful advice to do a better job as soon as they start.
Not only do referral programmes work for students and recent graduates, but they also insure you will have a large pool of profiles similar to the one you hired. Moreover, referrals don’t end with hiring: having a good programme in place will ensure higher loyalty from your youngest employees.
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