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Career Advice

The Dos & Don'ts of Employee Referrals

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated August 13, 2019
|4 min read

An employee referral is when an employee refers to a candidate for a job opportunity within their organization. Referring a friend can seem like an easy win for all parties. First, it's a great way to help your company’s talent pipeline, as referrals are cheaper, faster, and make for better performing hires, according to a LinkedIn Report. It's also a way to build goodwill within your network, and even earn yourself a potential referral bonus! But before referring every LinkedIn contact or friend that comes your way, consider what’s at stake for yourself when referring someone to your company.

Each referral you make is a reflection on you. If you continuously send the wrong candidates towards your talent acquisition team, that may tarnish your reputation. When it comes to referring people in your network, consider the following: 


1. Consider your reputation and brand within the company 

Do you trust that this person would make you look good if they were to meet with your leadership team? How would it reflect on you if they met with your boss and other members of your team?

If you’re worried about the image they might cast on you, it's worth thinking twice before sending their resume along. 

2. Assess how committed they are

If you refer them, and all goes well, how likely is it that they would accept the job, versus them flaking out on the opportunity?

It’s important that you don’t waste a good referral on someone who isn't that serious about working at your organization. Take the time to gauge their level of interest in the role, and whether or not they are simply exploring options and curious, or if they are interested. You can do this by asking them questions like “What is it exactly about this role that interests you?” or “What caught your eye about this organization?”

3. Prepare them with useful information about the company culture, and hiring manager when possible 

If you feel strongly that this person would be a great fit, you should share useful information with the candidate that might not be so obvious from an internet search. This will increase the likelihood of them making a good impression during the interview! 

Information like company vision, values, language and communication style are important pieces of information that could help a candidate succeed in an interview. Of course, you don't want to share any confidential information.

4. Make sure they understand the role and are truly aligned

Before sending in that resume, talk to them about their career goals, and why this role is of particular interest to them. A conversation like this can highlight if they are shooting their resume off to every open job requisition, or if they truly feel alignment between their interests and the role. Hiring managers can quickly sniff out when a person is just trying to get a job for the sake of a job, versus when they are truly interested in the responsibilities and projects. 


1. Get overly involved in the process 

Once the resume is in and the interview is set up, do yourself a favor and take a step back from the situation! Getting too involved will make it uncomfortable for you should the interview not go well. Additionally, you shouldn't be following up with HR every three days to see where they are in the process, as this won’t reflect well on you either. 

2. Lie about their experience or credentials 

You might be tempted to overhype your referral, both because you believe in them, and also because you want your referral bonus. However, any white lies, or exaggerations you tell will come to light in the interview, and this will not lead to a great start for the candidate.

3. Refer everyone that asks

Like the boy who cried wolf, if you keep referring candidates who don’t fit the bill, people within the organization may stop taking your recommendations seriously. Referrals are great, but in most cases should be saved for those that you would go to bat for and those you truly believe in! 

The saying “It's not who you know, it's what you know” remains relevant in today’s job market and referring a friend now could have huge returns for you somewhere down the line. With that in mind, consider everything at stake when referring close friends or family, and approach with care and caution!

Stacy Pollack is a human resources professional who helps employees, leaders, and organizations develop through innovative programs. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at


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