When executed well, employee referral programs leverage the social media and other contacts of an organization's workers to connect with high-caliber passive prospects. In most cases, however, the resulting outreach is narrowcast to the specific subset of individuals appropriate for a particular opening. While this approach does often generate applicants, it significantly underutilizes employee connections. Using a broadcast technique called "employee reflections," an employer can touch all of an employee's connections and thus effectively supplement their existing employee referral program.
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Employee reflections comprise a program of career-field-specific content generated by select employees of an organization. It is based on the ongoing move to supplement traditional advertising with "sponsored content."
According to a recent article in The New York Times, "In recent years, publications large and small have invested in teams to make sponsored content – written stories, videos, or podcasts that look and feel like journalistic content – hoping to make up for declines in conventional advertising."
Unlike commercial sponsored content, an employee reflections program is more narrowly defined as "blog posts, videos and podcasts that provide career-field information or insight as a supplement to traditional recruitment advertising." The content of employee reflections is authored by an organization's employees for the purpose of promoting the organization to the employees' social media and other contacts.
How Does It Work?
An employee reflections program isn't a one-off initiative, but an ongoing monthly publication of employee-generated content that promotes both the employees' individual brands and the company as a center of excellence in a specific career field.
Clearly, the program isn't for every organization or even for every career field for which an organization recruits. But for highly competitive demographics and mission-critical openings, employee reflections provide a way to advertise an employer in a distinctive and engaging way. Employee reflections can set the organization apart as a place where top talent can work with other top talent and thus advance their careers.
The best way to implement an employee reflections program is to make it a competition among a select group of employees. Position it as a contest for high-performing employees in key demographics your organization needs to recruit. The contest will determine who will be offered the chance to author a piece of career-enhancing content that the organization will publicly promote and the individual will distribute to their network contacts.
Contest winners should be selected based on the submission of an outline for content that demonstrates their expertise and insight in their field. While they retain the copyright for the content, they must agree that the final product will include a footer that recognizes its publication by their employer and provides a link to the career page on its website.
Why would an organization's top employees participate? Implemented effectively, the program offers three benefits to those who are selected:
They will be given time on the job to author content that is professionally advantageous, offering them a way to enhance their own brand.
They will be able to distribute that content to their own social and professional networks and see it distributed even more broadly through their employer's networks.
In recognition of their selection as a sponsored-content author, they will receive appropriate recognition in their next performance appraisal and an appropriate bump in their next salary review.
An employee reflections program obviously requires time and effort to implement, but so too does any well-run employee referral program. The return on the investment is a more expansive outreach to the kinds of candidates employers find most appealing – those top performers in the networks of their own employees.
Peter Weddle is the CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. The trade association for the global TA technology industry, TAtech also provides a number of programs for recruiting and HR professionals, including a conference dedicated to "Optimizing the RECRUITER Experience™," a speakers bureau, and TAtech U – a free webinar-based training program on key advances in TA technology and applications. Visit TAtech.org for more information.