You know it by now – great candidates are not always easy to come by. Finding someone with the right qualifications, skills, experience and culture fit is usually just a part of the definition of a “great candidate”. Passion is always a key part of what we look for when connecting with potential employees on behalf of our clients. Often this enthusiasm originates from a genuine interest or appreciation for the services and or products your company offers its customers. So its common sense — your customers (and vendors too!) can actually serve as valuable resources to keep in mind for your hiring needs.

Besides your own employees, the people that probably know most about your organization are those that use what you have to offer. Loyal customers obviously benefit from the things you work so hard to produce, as they keep coming back for more. What better place to look for new team members than a group of people that already love your company and see the value in your product or service? A too-often neglected source of potential hires is a business’ client base and their own networks.

To put things into perspective, look at it this way — interviewing a job candidate that’s been referred by a customer is like going on a date with a mutual friend. You already have something in common– the friend (customer). This serves as an icebreaker, a common ground on which to stand when opening up the lines of communication involved in the dating (hiring) process. Additionally, your friends usually have good intentions when playing matchmaker. If they genuinely like both parties, then they see the opportunity for a potentially well-suited couple. If things go well, they feel accomplished, and two positive influences in their life have been joined. This result is rewarding to all involved, just as a successful hire is for you, your new employee, and the loyal customer responsible for referring the candidate and therefore for initiating the whole process.

5 Ways to Generate Candidate Referrals from Customers

Social Media

  • Make it clear to the world you are hiring! Don’t just bury the message on your careers page. Include messaging on corporate social media landing pages, or even send them directly to your online followers. You can target bloggers and those who regularly post positive messages about your company on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Vine. You may be able to get your marketing department to help you put some messaging together.

Banner Ads

  • Create a banner ad for your company’s website “advertising” current job opportunities.
  • Keep messages simple. For example:
    • “If you love our product, consider joining our team.”
    • “Do you know someone who would be a great fit in our company?”


  • Meetups are a great place to interact with customers, vendors and partners. Most even have a portion of time dedicated to discussing current opportunities. Don’t just read off your job listings, ask participants for names of people you should talk to.
  • Those that are a part of that community may be among your most “die hard” fans and users.

Receipts/ Invoices

  • Get creative! Try adding a QR code to the bottom of a receipt that scans to direct customers to your career site.
  • If receipts or invoices are sent electronically, place links the site at the bottom of the email.

Customer Event/Trade Show

  • What better way to let your customers know that you are hiring than by announcing it to them at a customer event or trade show?
  • Even in the information age, old-fashioned, face to face communication is a really effective way to promote ideas and receive feedback.
  • These events provide opportunities for such interactions that are few and far between in recent times.
  • Consider having your current employees wear a button or t-shirt that suggests your company is a great place to work AND you’re hiring!

A Little Extra Motivation
Who doesn’t love a free t-shirt or gift card? It’s could be great way to entice your customers. Other ideas to consider, based on your business? Free subscription/monthly trial. A discount for referring someone who gets an interview. Perhaps a larger incentive if someone gets hired. Get creative!

A Quick Warning
Probably goes without saying, but better safe than sorry. There are obviously instances where you need to be careful not coming across as attempting to “recruit” your customers – most often those involved in certain B-to-B businesses. For that crowd, make sure you are clearly focused on asking them to think about their own network and how they can potentially help “talk up” your opportunity to generate referrals.

Asking your customers for candidate referrals, if done appropriately, can open up a network of fresh faces. Keep in mind that by doing this, you will also show your appreciation for your customers’ loyalty. Don’t be afraid to connect and spark meaningful conversations with your most valued patrons. Ask for referrals! If they like your company so much, why wouldn’t they want their friends and family working there? Excitement about employment is priceless, and a customer conduit can be a great source. Remember, every business is different so be sure to think about your channels and choose strategies that work best for you.