Purple Squirrels and the Rise of Referrals

Large companies are increasingly turning to their current employees to find that next great hire, according to this piece in this morning’s New York Times: “Big companies like Ernst & Young are increasingly using their own workers to find new hires, saving time and money but lengthening the odds for job seekers without connections, especially among the long-term unemployed.”

From the piece:

The trend, experts say, has been amplified since the end of the recession by a tight job market and by employee networks on LinkedIn and Facebook, which can help employers find candidates more quickly and bypass reams of applications from job search sites like Monster.com.

Some, like Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, have set ambitious internal goals to increase the proportion of hirings that come from internal referrals. As a result, employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of nonentry-level placements at the firm, up from 28 percent in 2010.

The rise in internal referrals, the story notes,  is aided because applicants from Internet job sites, such as Monster.com, are sometimes internally referred to by recruiters “as ‘Homers,’ after the lackadaisical, doughnut-eating Homer Simpson. The most desirable candidates, nicknamed ‘purple squirrels’ because they are so elusive, usually come recommended.”

“We call it Monster.ugly,” said [a source], referring to Monster.com. “In the H.R. world, applicants from Monster or other job boards carry a stigma.”

Monster.com did not respond to a request for comment.

So, how’s your organization’s internal referral process looking these days?