5 Ways To Get An Instructional Design Candidate To Refer Colleagues
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Getting An Instructional Design Candidate To Refer Colleagues: 5 Ways

It can get expensive recruiting for Instructional Design candidates. Really expensive. One study estimates that a company can incur costs of between $4,000 to more than $18,000 per hire [1], using traditional methods of recruitment. The skills and experience that learning professionals bring to the table are highly specialized and, therefore, it takes time and patience to hire the right person.

One effective way to speed up the process and secure talent that better matches the culture of an organization is by direct employee referrals. Using a referral program can shave thousands off the cost of recruiting, and it connects the colleagues of your best employees to your company merely by association. And think of this: These referrals come already familiar with your company, the culture, and inside information about what it’s like to work for you. This can increase retention rates and help with onboarding new hires [2].

If this doesn’t convince you, maybe these stats [3] will:

  • Referrals offer the highest conversion rate from candidate to employee, accounting for 40% of all new hires.
  • An average employee has around 150-300 contacts on his or her social media accounts—which can add up to a huge number of potential candidates.
  • 67% of recruiters say that hiring via employee referrals is easier and less costly than other methods.

How can your organization increase the number of employees who are willing to refer their Instructional Design colleagues to come work for your firm? Here are some ways to make a referral program worth the effort.

1. Make The Workplace Worthy Of Referrals

Before you launch any employee referral program, be sure that you can provide a rich culture and positive experience for new hires. It is unreasonable to expect current employees to refer their friends to work for your company if it doesn’t offer something better than the competition. Keep in mind too that many of the referrals are passive candidates who need some convincing to leave their current roles. What can your organization offer that others cannot? If these referrals already know something about your company’s reputation, what does it say?

2. Create Incentives For Employees Who Refer Their Friends

Another element of a successful employee referral program is one that also rewards the employees who take the time to refer their colleagues. This is a big decision for your employees because they are impacting their relationships with friends. Give them generous incentives for being willing to take this risk. One possible incentive is a cash bonus for a successfully hired referral. It can be stepped out for the first 6 months to ensure that the referral is retained, which would look like this: 30% of the bonus upon hire, 30% bonus at 90 days of hire, and 30% bonus at 6 months.

3. Market The Referral Program From The First Day Of Hire

When making all new hires, communicate how important internal referrals are to the growth of the company, including the learning and design team. Let new hires in on the benefits of referring their colleagues to work for your company, along with the cash incentives, and team building aspects. This can be toted as one of the many ways that the company recognizes achievements and rewards employees.

4. Use An Internal System To Automate Employee Referrals

The use of technology for tracking, approving, and compensating for employee referrals is very accurate today. Many connect with applicant tracking systems, and others are standalone products that allow employees to refer colleagues and collect their rewards later on. Some systems even allow management to rate the results and quality of a new hire, and share this information with recruiters for future support. Automate as much as the process of accepting referrals and tracking their progress.

5. Look Outside The Internal Pool Of Employees

There are sure to be some opportunities to recruit from a referral network that lives outside of the current employee pool. Social media provides access to large groups of eLearning talent, as do niche career boards that feature the resumes of eLearning professionals. Offer referral incentives to those who share the details of a candidate with a generous external program.


  1. The Ultimate Guide To Employee Referrals
  2. How to Implement an Employee Referral Program
  3. Why Employee Referrals are the Best Source of Hire