If your referral programs don't spread from person to person, it isn't viral
Just sat through a Yahoo! Resumix webcast. Boooooring. "Viral Hiring: building an employee referral program that works". I suppose it was OK, but the amount of new stuff was small.
What kind of disease spreads to one person and dies? What sort of meme doesn't spread? Arrgggh!
The point of viral hiring is to find memes and behaviors that multiply. You want them spread through second order networks. Friends-of-friends, members of social and professional circles. You can do oodles more than traditional "pimp your friends" programs.
The Power of Schmooze. For example, Greg Narain is making sparkcards your employees hand out like business cards. Each plastic card has half the employee keeps. The other half their acquaintance takes away. The two halves share a common, unique URL. At that web page is a safe place for the two of them to share a little more information about themselves. Who will be the first to use sparkcards to improve dating, chamber of commerce mixers, professional associations, emergency first response - and employee referral?
Knock down Greg's door asking to sponsor this. Make sure that each of your workers' sparkcards is branded, and that your job listings show up for each respondent.
Honeypot the Blogosphere. Encourage your workers to blog outside the firewall. Most bloggers draw a small readership of friends and the likeminded. Many develop readership in the dozens or hundreds. A very few, the celebrities of the blogosphere, have readership in the thousands. If someone has expert knowledge, a curious mind, and the willingness to express themselves, give them the tools to express themselves. They will attract like-minded people, people who share a common interest. So if they blog about work, about their occupation, their craft, the technology, their industry, Google and Technorati will find them, and people who care will follow.
What can you do?
- Write a company polcy that gives employees permission to blog in public so long as they don't break the usual rules (no trade secrets, disclaim, etc.). Remove fear.
- Co-sponsor employee blogs ("brought to you in part by Acme") by reimbursing related costs, maybe $10-15/month/blog. Remove obstacles.
- Host blogs ("powered by Acme") on your own blog server. There are some great free or cheap blogging tools that your IT department could have up in an hour or two (a day or two in IT time). Sun and Microsoft have done this. Share your brand.
- Many bloggers run Google ads to offset their Internet costs; put job ads on weblogs at the same or better rates. Blog readers self select much more carefully than job seekers. People who read the PVRblog will be interested in TiVos and other personal video recorder technology. The eBay strategies blog will be read by coders interested in integration using eBay's programming interfaces. Same for the PayPal developers blog. This is niche advertising at its best. And cheapest. Exploit communities of interest.
- Give press credentials to bloggers. It worked for the DNC and GOP. It worked for the AdTech conference and countless others. Add some bloggers to your company's media relations list. As with reporters, be appropriate. If someone has a basketball blog, don't send them your new transmission lubricant news release. Create blog fodder, so bloggers can spread the word.
- RSSify your job listings. I won't explain RSS newsfeeds here beyond saying that they put a little file on your web site wrapping your job announcements in a little machine code. Then people using free newsreaders subscribe to updates to your RSS files. Get your job listings followed closely active job seekers and those who support them. If you have more than a dozen openings, be sure to create feeds for each geography and each occupational category. Deliver job listings direct to readers.