By Klariza Alvaran on

When it comes to finding quality external candidates, your search should start from within. In a survey, Jobvite asked recruiters to name what source they would rank highest for bringing in high-quality talent, and referrals (34%) came in second only to internal hires (38%).

The numbers show real value in having a strong referral program:

However, recruiters also say that although 40% of new hires come from referrals, they make up just 7% over the overall candidate pool. It also doesn’t help that 37% of employers do not have a formal referral program in the first place.

Is your company on its A-game when it comes to referral pipeline?

Here are three questions to ask yourself to see if your organization’s referral program is on track:

 1. Are employees aware of job openings?

Employees not knowing what job openings are available can be a barrier to getting more referrals. With that in mind, Dell started a practice of sending biweekly emails that with job openings and messaging that encouraged employees to refer. That tactic, in conjunction with other changes, contributed to a global referral rate of 38% by 2015 for the company, up from 19% just 5 years before.

2. Are we actively encouraging employees to send referrals?

Only 3% of recruiters consider number of referral hires to be their main success metric for recruiting strategy, but your firm may benefit from having the goal of increasing referral hires as a company-wide objective. The head of talent at Figman, an interface design software startup found success in setting an annual target for the percent of new hires from referrals. Creating a benchmark spreads the accountability for meeting referral goals across the whole organization in addition to raising awareness of the importance of referrals.

3. Are we tracking and optimizing hiring workflow, especially when it comes to non-HR employee involvement throughout?

The hiring process is inevitably full of hand-offs, and candidates can easily be left hanging. This is problematic when a referring employee expects transparency and faster movement through the hiring process for their referral. A recruiting leader at Ernst & Young says that the firm puts referral candidates into the “express lane” in the vetting process—a practice that keeps both referral and the referring employee satisfied.

4. Do employees know what kind of candidates to look for?

Be clear about the responsibilities and requisite skills associated with a job opening so that employees know who might be a good match. A people analytics tool like Twine can facilitate the process by surfacing current employees with relevant background for a role, who may then be able to refer similarly equipped candidates to fill a role.