Bryce Murray Regarding The War for Extraordinary Talent

May 17, 2019 Alessandra Williams

With a background in Talent Acquisition at recognizable companies like JC Penny, Red Bull, and Disney, Bryce Murray is also the Managing Director of the Los Angeles based Talent Acquisition Group that helps businesses acquire exceptional talent.

Prioritizing Talent in Practice

From working at highly selective and prestigious companies to running his own firm, Murray stands behind the belief that the quintessential asset to every business is talent. Having the best talent in place allows a company to access better opportunity, capital, product, experiences, and best of all, more top talent. Murray dedicates his time to better serve his clients by uncovering the best strategies in hiring. He believes a robust Employee Referral Program assists in the discovery of extraordinary talent.

1. What are the most important components of a good referral program?

First of all, the most important thing is that you have true engagement and buy-in from the business and business leaders that a referral program is valuable and effective. The second piece is that you have a talent acquisition or a talent function that is committed to the follow-through. You need to make sure that you’ve got the business driving the referrals in the door and they are the right kinds of referrals. Almost an endorsement, not just a referral. An endorsement is someone who you’ve worked with in the past and, based on your experience working with them previously as well as your understanding of the organization today, you’re able to say you’re confident in their ability to not only perform their duties and the job, but also be a cultural contributor to the organization. Then, on the talent acquisition side, you need to have that commitment and follow-through to act upon on the referrals. It should be done in a timely manner with the white-glove treatment, appropriately prioritized, and followed through on whether or not the referral is hired.

2. What are the main challenges you’ve seen companies face when looking to increase their % of hires through referrals?

The first and biggest one is getting people on board with the idea that referrals are critical. People will say “yes, I’ll think of referrals,” but they don’t actually commit to it. Getting the buy-in from the business is typically the most difficult thing and it’s not always about using a monetary incentive. The next biggest hurdle is asking whether you have the talent acquisition capability and bandwidth to follow up with those referrals and provide them with a quality experience that reinforces the referral program.

3. How are referred candidates perceived by hiring managers at companies you’ve worked at?

Generally, candidates that come through as a referral get some positive bias from hiring managers because they came through a known quantity, whether that known quantity is directly known to them or not.

4. How have you marketed referral programs to create internal visibility?

There is all the standard stuff - things like e-mail communications sent out to the organization from leaders, contests, etc. In the end, though, what’s most important, instead of it being an HR or Talent led initiative, it needs to be business led. That’s a really important element of driving the awareness of the program and the buy-in. The follow-through is to celebrate the referral champions and explore gamifying the program through things like leaderboards. It’s finding a way to positively reinforce and cast a positive light on those who are engaged in the program and how it’s making an impact so people can see that it matters, it’s not just about getting the referrals, but also highlighting those successes. In some areas of the business where growth was really critical, business leaders put individual KPIs in place for the team. Even though their day job was not recruiting, they put KPIs in place needed to drive referral behavior. That’s when it becomes business and leader led and that’s when you see these programs become the most successful when the business understands the value.

5. What referral probation periods have you seen associated with cash rewards?

Generally, what I’ve seen is 90 days. It’s a safe window because at some point it becomes the responsibility of the manager and the organization to cultivate an environment where someone wants to stay. I think you could reasonably attribute the first quarter or so to the individual, but again it also depends, if you’re not doing a cash-based incentive, the probation period doesn’t really matter.

6. Have you asked for referrals as part of the new onboarding process?

During the pre-boarding process, when somebody goes online to complete their new hire paperwork before their first day, they’re so excited about the company and they’re in this emotional high, the company can solicit who are the top 5 people they think really need to work there. Then, also 90 days later, an e-mail goes out that says now that they have a better sense of the company, do they have any other people to add? At that point, they have a better appreciation for the culture. One of the real values of a referral program is you’re not only referring people who are qualified but ideally you are referring people who are going to make a positive impact on the culture and team. They’re going to be additive to the culture and they’re going to make it better, and you can’t really make that kind of referral unless you’ve been with the organization for a little while.

7. What’s the #1 employee referral program tip you would like to pass on?

Make sure whatever precedent you set in the referral program as to the company’s EVP, is something you can live up to throughout the entire experience - whether all somebody does is interview but isn’t selected or if someone interviews and is hired. What’s really important is that you are able to stay true to and live up to the quality of the experience you offer in the referral program so it’s consistent with what the overall EVP is for the organization.

To prioritize talent and have a winning Employee Referrals program, here are my three takeaways from Murray:

Takeaway #1: Have buy-in from the business and the business leaders. It promotes better program awareness, understanding, and the importance of referrals.

Takeaway #2: Ask for referrals during the pre-boarding/on-boarding stage as well as a follow-up. Capitalize on the emotional excitement and willingness to assist as well as checking in after the employee develops an understanding of the business culture.

Takeaway #3: Ensure proper bandwidth and tools to handle the referrals in the right way. Referrals come with a positive bias and need to receive a white glove treatment on behalf of the employee who is providing the referral.

What similarities and differences do you notice with your referral program? What takeaways would you want to see implemented?

Share the article and be sure to connect with Bryce Murray on LinkedIn and Twitter at @bambamurray!

About the Author

Alessandra Williams

Alessandra Williams, our Marketing Development Lead, spearheads the efforts of organizing company-sponsored events. She loves connecting with passionate and innovative recruitment leaders who believe the people at their companies are genuinely their best asset. For the past several years, she has traveled all over the country to interview prominent thought leaders and provide encouragement to those who want to learn about the best industry practices, such as the benefits of implementing a strong employee referrals and internal mobility program. When she's not working, she is back home in sunny Southern California and loves walking her dog, exploring historical sites and museums, going on hikes, practicing yoga, and eating to her heart's content at the best restaurants (yes, feel free to reach out to her for recommendations and help with SF & LA reservations).

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