Luan Lam and the DNA of a Visionary Talent Leader

January 11, 2019 Alessandra Williams

Luan Lam has accumulated an extraordinary list of accomplishments for his prowess in building, motivating, and retaining world-class teams and is known as one of the top talent gurus in the Bay Area, 


Intuitive Drive to Solve and Scale from Scratch

Luan LamCulture and community are cultivated through the art of connection and communication, and Luan Lam is the master of the craft. His gift for relationships and attracting the right people are integral to his identity and success. Despite his busy schedule, he frequently makes time to share his knowledge with others in webcast series, webinars, articles, lectures, and interviews. He shares how rolling out an Employee Referral Program was the key tool for gaining employee engagement and increasing internal and external candidate referrals.

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

The main challenge is not having a centralized portal or platform to receive referrals and having them processed quickly. There is a need to have an automated way of responding to all referrals. An employee-centric experience is necessary otherwise employees will easily lose faith in the process.

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

Referred candidates belong in a category of their own as they tend to be received with open arms. They’ve been vetted by someone within the company and a trust develops for the referred candidate by working with someone they know. Referrals make the best cultural fits.

3. Have you seen a positive impact on retention from referred candidates and on the employees doing the referring?

Overall, referrals are one of the best ways to build upon culture, hire top talent, and increase the number of culturally minded individuals. Retention rates increase through a robust referral program as it impacts the level of comfort with social connections.

4. What level of employee referral cash bonuses have you rewarded in the past? Have you ever incentivized with participation based rewards like gift cards, charity donations or raffle prizes?

In hiring engineers, we’ve rewarded $5,000 for every referral hire and at times have increased the referral amount to $10,000, in general, 1.5 to 2x, for the hard to find roles. We have done drawings for everyone who has made a referral and given out flat screen televisions, Napa helicopter trips, etc.

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

Absolutely. We ask new hires for top 3-5 names on the first day and reward gift cards just for the names. We’ve given Starbucks gift cards and for those that progress in the system cool modern gadgets such as the iPad, Apple Watch, and iPhone.

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

My #1 tip is that you need to run the employee referral program like a business. You need to invest time and energy into it, market it, sell it, and finally, do the follow-up work.


For mastering a successful Employee Referrals program, as Lam has done, here are my three takeaways.

Takeaway #1: Create an employee-centric program with a centralized and automated platform. These two components offer the ease and information that builds respect from the workforce.

Takeaway #2: A culture of trust and comfort is a direct result of a strong employee referral program and further helps to increase retention rates and build a social connection.

Takeaway #3: Begin the referral program at onboarding. New employees will understand the priority of the program with positive reinforcement and it assists with the visibility and marketing of the program for the long-term.


Let us know your favorite answers and what you would like to implement at your company.

Share the article and be sure to follow Luan Lam on Twitter at @LuanLamSF!

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).

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin More Content by Alessandra Williams
Previous Article
Jennifer Picard Looking Inside the Mind of a Talent Acquisition High Achiever
Jennifer Picard Looking Inside the Mind of a Talent Acquisition High Achiever

Before she launched her own firm, Picard accomplished much in her 10+ years at DigitasLBi, a multi-billion-...

Next Article
Rod Blomquist on Building a Successful Team with Employee Referrals
Rod Blomquist on Building a Successful Team with Employee Referrals

As a dedicated professional with over 20 years of experience in recruiting, staffing, management, and human...