The Best Place to Find New Employees

The problem most people have is that they don't tap into their entire network.

I just delivered a presentation at a national construction convention on the best practices in recruiting and retention. My business focuses more on the retention side of the equation, but the client asked me to put this together. I learned a lot doing it. In fact, I've found that the topic is in high demand; four other conventions have asked me to do it for them. I would like to share with you one of the key points from my research.

The main source of new employees, by far, is internal referrals. That is, an employee within the company submits the name of someone he knows, or knows of, to fill a position in the company. This is a win for the hiring company, because the cost of this acquisition is often lower, and new hires from referrals usually stay around longer. You can make this work for you. The old cliché, "It's not what you know, but who you know," has merit here. Who do your employees know that they might be able to refer for a position? Who do you know who can give you information, make an introduction, or maybe send some people your way? And before you shrug and say, "No one," I need to tell you that you, and your people, know far more people than you think.

The problem most people have is that they don't tap into their entire network. They make evaluations about who may or may not be able to help them without knowing enough to make a smart decision. A couple of days ago, my friend Ken, a retiring Marine LtCol, called me for advice. We had a great conversation and I asked if he had talked to another mutual friend of ours, Kelly. He hadn't. He said he didn't think Kelly could offer input, and listed several seemingly valid reasons. I then pointed out a number of ways that Kelly - and other members of his network he hadn't considered - might be able to help him.

Ken was seeing things one way. I simply helped him see them other ways, too. Take a look at your cell phone contact list. Every single one of those people is part of your network, and they all know people. Let's say you have 100 people in your phone. You're really looking at 200 potential leads. Sure, some of them won't be able to offer help. But many, including those you had not considered, might fit your company, or know someone who might. You need to help your employees understand what you are looking for and continually remind them. You should also reward them, well, when they do refer people to you.

We still need to talk about how to handle these referrals but we will do that next time. For now, think about all those relatives, friends, and acquaintances from school, active duty, sports teams, and church. Make a list. You will be amazed and energized by seeing just how many folks can be sources of information. The objective of the internal referral program is to get people to interview. When this happens the next time you find yourself asking, "Can you hear me now?" there will be a vast network of people, not just hearing you, but helping you get heard

Wally Adamchik is the President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting, a national leadership consulting firm based in Raleigh, NC. You can visit the website at or e-mail him at [email protected]. His book is No Yelling ( was selected by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the best business books of Summer 2007.