The Hidden Gold of Employee Referral Programs

File:GoldNuggetUSGOV.jpgThink of it as a bounty. A price on your head (as it were), and you don’t even know what that price is. But in truth… that doesn’t even matter.

What DOES matter is how this program delivers results for you.

What I am talking about are the smart and savvy companies that offer incentives to existing employees for referring top industry talent as suggestions as potential company new hires.

The adage of “people hire who they know” rings ever true. By being engaged in your industry, building meaningful relationships and connections, and yes, even volunteering within your field or professional membership association can expose your personal brand integrity to people who aren’t necessarily the decision makers.

But these are the people who are connected to the ones that are the hiring managers.

Understanding what target companies offer employee referral programs can be absolute gold to your career future.


The mere fact that employers invest in the good judgment of trusted staff members who make referrals reveals a great deal of information about the company. Smart managers know that by offering incentives for those recommendations can actually cut down on bad hiring decisions on unknown candidates.

Your goal?

Start asking questions. Find out what companies have internal employee referral programs. Get to know people at the company who are in your career orbit, and reach out to them. Building a relationship with them could result you being a prized referral to the hiring manager, with the special “blessing” of someone who knows you.

This is a golden opportunity to find your way into target companies through the “backdoor” of internal referrals versus the “front door” of applying stone-cold online through the company’s web portal. And that’s how you can maximize your job search activities.