All Employees Can Be Recruiters—Here's How

Here at Greenhouse, we’re pretty passionate about recruiting. So much so, in fact, that we built an entire company dedicated to it! But not everyone geeks out about recruiting as much as we do, and that’s fine. No matter what products you’re creating or problems your company is solving, chances are you will need to make some new hires over the course of the year.

At some companies, recruiters are on their own. They’re solely responsible for sourcing and hiring all new employees. But we think it’s much more effective—and fun—to get the whole company involved in recruiting.

Let’s start by sharing why it makes sense to build a company-wide recruiting culture, and then we’ll share a few examples of how we’ve put this in place at Greenhouse.

We’ll tackle the big question first: Why should you make recruiting a company-wide initiative?

The Benefits of Company-Wide Recruiting

One of the easiest ways to involve all employees in recruiting is by starting an employee referral program. In its simplest form, an employee referral program involves having your existing employees suggest people in their network who they think would be a good fit for your company. Here are three reasons why having a program like this makes sense:

1. Better Hiring

For starters, employee referrals tend to have a better conversion to hire rate than candidates who come from other sources. We’ve seen this firsthand at Greenhouse. Since we’ve been tracking these numbers, we’ve hired 4 percent of candidates who came from referrals, as opposed to .66 percent who applied through the jobs page and .2 percent who apply through third-party job boards. 

In the workforce in general, referrals also boast a higher retention rate than employees coming from other sources. After two years on the job, employees who came from referrals had a 45 percent retention rate (compared to 20 percent from traditional recruiting methods).

Furthermore, candidates who come in through referrals also have a significantly shorter time to placement. Employee referrals start after an average of 29 days vs. 39-45 days for candidates from traditional recruiting sources. New hires obtained through employee referrals also tend to complete training and onboarding faster than hires from other sources.

2. Increased Ownership and Brand Advocacy

Building a recruiting culture extends beyond referrals, and it can also benefit your company in other ways. You’ll be giving your existing employees a voice—they have the power to actually impact the organization. This can lead to an increased sense of ownership and pride, which makes existing employees even stronger advocates for your employer brand and boosts engagement and retention.

3. Improved Communication and Collaboration

By allowing employees to be involved in recruiting, you also promote cross-departmental communication and collaboration. We’ve seen this work really well at companies, like Thumbtack, where the responsibility of filling open roles can be assigned to any department. For example, the marketing team might find themselves responsible for filling roles on the engineering team. 

With cross-departmental collaboration, recruiters will enjoy support from people throughout the company. And, employees at all levels can gain a better understanding of how to select the right candidate for the company. All in all, it’s a win for your company, a win for recruiters, and a win for everyone else involved.

How Greenhouse Approaches Employee Referrals 

1. Allow All Employees to Refer Candidates.

When new hires start at Greenhouse, they get access to Greenhouse software on their first day. During our onboarding sessions, we encourage each employee to connect their social media accounts and set a publication schedule to share the latest job postings with their networks. This is a super easy way to get even the newest employees involved in our recruiting efforts and help them feel like they are contributing to the success of the company right from the start.

2. Build a Program to Incentivize Participation.

Some employees just want to participate in referral programs because they happen to know a great person for a specific role—obviously, we LOVE this proactive recruiting enthusiasm. But some employees need a little extra motivation in order to participate. 

At Greenhouse, any time an employee makes a referral, they get a ticket. They keep half the ticket and exchange it for highly sought-after Greenhouse swag. Smaller items like keychains and bottle openers go for one ticket, while a T-shirt or beanie will set you back seven tickets. The remaining half of the ticket will go into a quarterly raffle drawing, held at the company all-hands meeting for maximum impact and excitement. Prizes for the quarterly drawing include things like Apple TV and credit at Airbnb.

And just to up the ante a bit, every year the person whose referrals have generated the most hires will win a grand prize trip for two to the destination of their choice.

3. Hold Regular Sourcing "Parties."

The Greenhouse recruiting team holds sourcing parties on a quarterly basis. We invite the whole company to participate, and make it fun by offering food and drinks. Throughout the event, the recruiting team is available to support all participants, whether it’s providing BOOLEAN search terms, tracking codes, or example recruiting emails to send to prospects. 

We have a few goals during these events:  

  • Help employees feel more comfortable using LinkedIn
  • Set aside time for employees to think about the people in their network who aren’t necessarily top of mind
  • Share what types of candidates we’re looking for
  • Give employees insight into how our software works
  • Increase the number of referrals!

We’re big proponents of transparency, so we let the entire company know how many positions we need to fill by the end of the current quarter. This helps employees see the impact of their individual contributions on our recruiting goals.

4. Encourage Cross-Functional Culture Fit Interviews.

We’re proud of our culture here at Greenhouse, and we strive to make thoughtful decisions as our company continues to grow. We want to make sure that candidates have the required skills to do the job that they’re applying for, but we also want to ensure that they’ll flourish in our working environment. That’s why we’ve made culture fit interviews an integral part of our hiring process. We conducted 184 culture interviews last quarter! 

Anyone within the company can indicate that they’re interested in participating in culture interviews—and many people have. In fact, 35 percent of the company has gone through culture fit interview training.

This means that employees from every level and department have a hand in defining our culture and identifying it among candidates. Giving employees a voice in the interview process leads to higher engagement and ownership.

The strategies we’ve outlined above have a few common threads: trust employees to be your best brand advocates, encourage cross-departmental collaboration, and familiarize everyone with the recruitment process. We hope you’ll see how recruiting really can be a company-wide initiative—and you’re now equipped with a few ideas to try out at your organization.

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