03/19/2013 01:00 pm ET Updated May 19, 2013

Need Employees? 5 Strategies to Snag Job Referrals

Building the right team for any company is challenging. But HR managers and recruiters have valuable and underutilized allies within their organization -- the employees themselves. Snagging job referrals from existing employees can be an excellent way to grow your team and find job candidates similar to the hardworking professionals you already employ. But how do you go about it?

Your employees are likely to have plenty of great professional connections, including former colleagues, college classmates, members of volunteer organizations, and personal contacts. Many HR professionals say businesses should receive50 percent of hires from referrals, but tapping into these networks to find job candidates is hard. If your company isn't receiving a high number of job referrals from existing employees, here are five strategies to snag them:

1. Hold existing employee interviews. One-on-one interviews can be a great way to tap into topics you wouldn't normally get a chance to discuss in the typical office setting. Schedule casual interviews with existing employees to ask what they think of your hiring process, their personal experiences with it, and how they think it can be improved. Ask if they know any professionals who would be a good fit at your company. Employee interviews like this are great for two reasons: they let you glean valuable feedback on your hiring process and they give you leads for job referrals.

2. Create incentives. "What's in it for me?" Employees aren't going to be keen on doing the extra work of mediating job referrals if they won't benefit in some way. Make your employees feel appreciated by providing incentives to provide referrals. Most companies have a financial bonus available, but that often isn't the best way to motivate employees to make referrals. Public recognition in the office, extra time off, an additional paid vacation day, the opportunity to telecommute, or any number of other incentives should do the trick.

3. Invest in recruitment software. There are plenty of recruitment software programs available to employers today, with many designed specifically to handle job referrals. My company, RolePoint, offers employee recruitment software with a variety of tools for organizing and engaging talent, past, present, and potential. Plenty of these software programs integrate with your existing CRM or recruiting software to help hiring managers and recruiters organize job candidates' cover letters and resumes, keep track of employees who referred them, and engage in follow-up conversations.

4. Tap into social networks. Imagine you have 100 employees at your firm, each with 150 friends on a social networking site like Facebook. That's a total of 15,000 contacts to potentially tap into for job referrals. Your company can harness the power of social recruiting by encouraging existing employees to share job openings on their personal or professional social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Keep track of which employees do so, and be sure to reward those who are consistent with their postings.

5. Create a talent network. Keep your existing employees, past employees, and referrals connected by fostering a talent network. There's plenty of recruitment software available today that allows companies to create a community of prospective candidates online. Using automated tools, employers can keep past applicants and former employees in communication via content updates and targeted job alerts. Talent networks are a great way to create a knowledge base and be sure you snag the right hires before your competitor does.

Getting employee referrals doesn't have to be difficult. Employ these quick strategies, and you'll be well on your way to finding the top job candidates your business needs to thrive.

Kes Thygesen is the Co-Founder and Head of Product at RolePoint, a complete social recruiting suite that provides unrivaled access and reach to quality job candidates. Connect with him and RolePoint on LinkedIn and Twitter.