The Magical Referral

Business opportunities through word of mouth referrals is a cornerstone of success in any industry, but in the competitive world of recruiting in a talent short market, client or candidate referrals are like GOLD! Yet the effort required to fashion the building blocks of quality referral networks is often dismissed by administrative beanies counting the time and cost involved, or transactional Recruiters who only want to know anyone if there's a quick fee involved!

In agency recruitment it can be easy to think of people referrals as either a potential “Candidate” or “Client”, but over time it’s clear how people often morph into one, or the other, or both!  I’ve found referrals come in different shapes, sizes, forms and reasons, and sometimes from the least expected sources, but increasingly it’s the referral that makes the key difference between recruiting success or failure, when either trying to fill a “tough” role or bringing in a “new” client.

word of mouth stickmen

The beauty of any referral is it should be a three-way positive experience, given contacting a referral should ensure receiving quality service, receiving a referral should ensure a quality “product” and giving a referral reflects knowledge and influence.  A “multiple” referral experience sticks in my mind around what makes the time, effort and “cost” to build referral networks worthwhile:

  • Placed a Candidate into a role 20 years ago. Now the CEO of the company, they referred a candidate met by them directly, but who they couldn’t fit into the business.
  • I met said Candidate but after much consultation failed to find them a job, as they accepted another role directly.
  • I stayed in touch (over several drinks/meetings/phone calls) hoping to one day assist in some way.
  • When the Candidate next decided to change roles, they did come back to me and this time I was able to assist.
  • Upon resignation, they recommended to their employer to contact me to source a replacement.
  • New Client made contact through the referral and figured they’d benefit from working with me to help fill the role in the same way.



So taking the time to build long term relationships and then asking for, creating and rewarding referral networks is nothing magical, but it can be a magical experience.