Back to blog

4 Things You Can Do to Get More Candidate Referrals For Your Staffing Firm

Posted by
Diana Mitchell
on
November 9, 2022

Referrals are one lifeblood of a staffing firm. But do you know how many candidate referrals you’re actually getting? And how many are actually placed with a client?

With many staffing firms spending tens of thousands of dollars per month - or more – acquiring top of funnel candidates, referrals are the ultimate “low hanging fruit” in talent acquisition. But many staffing firms still have poorly-defined referral programs and subsequently, don’t get many solid referrals.  

Getting more referrals isn’t complicated. It’s just that many staffing firms don’t put in a little time and effort (or leverage their tech stack) to make referral generation a priority. So to help you take action and see results, here are 4 things you can do to get more candidate referrals for your staffing firm:

1. Create a referral-generation strategy

Are you serious about leveraging referrals to add more candidates to your funnel and improve core staffing metrics across the board? Then you’ll need to craft a referral-generation strategy – and you’ll have to implement that strategy.

As with any strategy, it pays to start with what’s working and not working right now.

How many referrals did you generate last year? YTD so far this year? Who were your top referral sources? How did you reward those referral sources? How much did it cost your staffing firm, versus how many placements/how much revenue did you generate?

It can be helpful, once you have your starting point, to set some goals for your new strategy. Will it start now? Next quarter? Next year? Will you take some time to get things rolling and then set hard goals in the coming months? There are no right or wrong answers here, but you have to define what you’re going to do and when/how you hope to do it. As with anything, if you don’t have a plan, it’s unlikely to get done.

2. Put someone in charge of referrals

I understand that your team is likely maxed out and the thought of adding ownership of referrals to someone’s plate may stress you out…

But hear me out on this. Without ownership, you and I both know that it’s unlikely anything gets done. And once you put in the work to develop a strategy, a strong referrals program honestly practically runs itself.

One of your recruiters may be open to adding this responsibility. Honestly! After all, who wouldn’t want more high-quality candidates? And if you’re leveraging a talent engagement platform like Sense, your recruiters have more time to build relationships because they’re leveraging AI and automation to eliminate so much of the administrative and tedious work that plague so many staffing firms (and clog calendars/to-do lists).

3. Talk to your best contractors/consultants

Ask them why they work with your staffing firm. What they like and don’t like about working with you. And if they’ve referred anyone - why. If not, is there a reason? Be open and willing to listen here, otherwise you’re likely going to get polite responses instead of useful ones. An anonymous survey could be better than 1:1 conversations (in fact, many Sense customers leverage our talent engagement platform to automate candidate surveys like this one), but depending on your candidate relationships, you could go either way.

Be willing to hear some negative feedback here. And not just willing to hear it, but to take action on it. The input you gather here can not only fuel your referrals strategy moving forward, but can help with recruiting, retention, and redeployment, so take note. And take action.

4. Carefully leverage technology

I mean, of course I was going to mention technology. But when I led marketing for an IT/engineering staffing firm and designed digital strategy for the nation’s first healthcare staffing firm, I realized just how important it was to have the right technology platform in place to deploy referrals strategies and so much more.

And I realized that one-off point solutions didn’t do the trick. I needed something that integrated with our ATS and worked with our texting and other talent engagement technologies so that it all worked together. Otherwise, it was adding more work than it was saving.


We all know how that feels. When something is supposed to save time but it ends up adding time (and usually headaches)?

So yes, it’s critical to research and vet referrals platforms that will save you time, effort, and stress while increasing the likelihood of your talent willingly submitting referrals. The right technology will also make it easy for your staffing firm to pay or otherwise disperse whatever rewards you are offering talent who refer others.

And you guessed it, of course we offer a Referrals component in our talent engagement platform at Sense. It only makes sense (no pun intended), as a Referrals solution needs to work with the rest of your talent engagement stack to create seamless experiences for your contractors/consultants, your soon-to-be candidates, and your recruiters.  

But no matter who you decide to research, vet, demo, etcetera, make sure you put the time in. Some time up front will pay off when you create better experiences for your internal and external stakeholders.

Get better results from your talent engagement tech stack

Finding success with your referrals strategy and implementation can make a game-changing impact on the success of your staffing firm. And as I’ve touched upon throughout this post, integrating your referrals strategy with other strategies and goals supported by your tech stack can lead to powerful results for your staffing firm.

One area in particular where we’re seeing our staffing customers thrive is in texting. Not just “doing” texting, but in strategically crafting text messages that result in very human, personalized interactions. Check out this guide from our resources for help crafting and deploying texting strategies in your staffing firm.

Read more