Associate/Alumni Referrals: How To Recommend a Candidate/Who Will Get Noticed

By Mark A. Leon – Featured on Hewitt Alumni Network (

The value associates and alumni can provide by recommending talent capital is critical to the maintenance of a well run organization. Companies are providing monetary rewards for the acquisition of strong talent in the package of associate/alumni referral bonuses.

How do I refer a candidate that I know will get noticed? Many referral programs offer the option of 1) creating a general profile in a candidate tracking database or 2) referring an individual to a specific role. The first option may provide more visibility to a talent acquisition/recruitment team but it is nothing more than a name without detail. By staying focused on the skills of the individual and aligning them with role that will more effectively benefit the company; this will give a level of immediacy to the process. A referral alone gives a signal to a recruitment specialist that this may be a better fit because it was provided by “one of our own”. Aligning that individual to a specific role is a gesture that states that this person has the right skills for a specific role.

Should you contact someone else besides the general referral mailbox?

If you have a connection with the Talent Acquisition community and are able to access the lead support person for the role(s) that you feel your candidate may be the best fit for, it is appropriate and will increase your end result if you are able to provide more insight on the candidate.

Refer an individual to one or two roles only. If you have a contact email or number, reach out to the support lead and give them a short summary outlining the exact reasons this individual should be considered.

What to expect when you refer a friend – will you hear back?

There are many types of associate referral programs in existence. Some are very detailed and focused on all the players involved in the process, while others are generalized and limit contact to the recruitment lifecycle participants. Many factors lead to how quickly a process is complete. Scheduling issues, budget concerns, volume of candidates and decision factors all are potential complications that could delay a process completion.

The recommendation is that if feedback is not provided within three weeks of a formal referral, a follow up with the Talent Acquisition Mailbox or direct contact is appropriate. Referrals are a partnership between associates/alumni and talent acquisition teams. It is important to maintain a positive working relationship to ensure smooth process in the present and future.

Is it appropriate for the person being referred to contact the organization directly?

This is a unique scenario in the process. On one end, as a candidate being referred, you are a formal candidate for an open opportunity and award the same privileges as other candidates and thus have a right to inquire on status. On the other end, you are putting trust in a friend or former colleague to grant you the chance at a role that may have eluded you otherwise.

If you feel you are a strong asset that can bring value to a role and the organization, provide specific skills and accomplishments to the referrer. This individual, when developing a profile for your application has the option of adding comments or a cover letter to further outline the specific reasons why you are a strong fit for this role.

Putting the trust in the person who got you to the first step in the process is the best option. A successful process is one that eliminates confusing an minimizes the number of players in the process.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s