RTT – Developing a Culture where Everyone is a Recruiter

These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on 28th January 2016 hosted by James Ryding, Head of Talent Acquisition, Easyjet. This Think Tank sought to bring together thoughts and experiences in regards to Developing a culture where everyone is a recruiter.

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior Talent Acquisition professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

In today’s ever more competitive candidate landscape, it is crucially important for all employees in your business to actively be part of a culture where they are invested in recruiting strong talent.

Get this right and the compound effect of this collaborative ‘snowball’ will have a significant effect on the volume and quality of talent pro-actively coming to you.

Here are some of the factors you should consider:

What have you got right now?

Before reinventing the proverbial wheel and setting out on a large-scale change process, take some time to appreciate what is happening right now. Do you have a handle on the proportion of candidates you are hiring through referrals or other direct efforts that may be influenced by people within your business (what are the stats)? Are there examples of individuals and hiring managers taking the initiative and finding/recommending people regularly to your business? Try to understand the current state and most importantly why and where the good exists.

How can you use what you’ve got?

Clearly the next logical step to this is to build upon the good practice that is already happening. It may be that it needs to be coaxed/coached in a way congruent with desired practice – but using the initiative and ‘small shoots’ that already exist allows you to start with real evidence to promote and build upon it.

How can I build upon this?

True success of any business comes where there is a clear identity and purpose to what your business does and why people work there. Us HR professionals would refer to it as the EVP. Everybody else may refer to it (consciously or subconsciously) as the ‘does it feel good to work here’ vibe.

It’s important to talk about this because before you have any chance of truly getting somewhere with developing recruitment advocates internally, first everybody needs to understand why they work somewhere (i.e. the EVP is clear).

One of our attendees spoke about the ‘bubble of goodness’ which exists within a business and our collective responsibility to work hard to promote, protect and nurture this. From here, it may be useful to think about your approach in relation to two distinct levels within your population.

How can I add senior advocates?

Aligned to the previous point it’s clear that there is a direct responsibility of a business’s leadership team to clearly set out the philosophy – vision, mission and purpose. This clarity of purpose and ‘buy in’ to your values becomes intoxicating in its own right. Talking about this to senior managers and reinforcing its importance is a great way to open the discussion about how you partner with senior managers to collectively drive business success through its people.  

Ultimately it’s the responsibility of the TA team to highlight the value of this ‘shared deal’ – and that starts at the top.

From here, practical steps can be taken to provide your Managers and Directors with the tools and means to easily talk about and promote the business, allowing them the opportunity to add real value amongst their busy schedules.

If that’s not there – what small steps can you take? It may be just one manager where you have great success and that clarity comes through. From here you should openly ‘shout’ about that and reinforce the benefit. Usually the rest of the business will show an interest; they feel like they are missing out and want to be part of it.  

Getting hiring managers talking passionately about the business as opposed to recruiters (who may be seen to have a heavily vested interest) is a very strong tool to have in your armoury.

How can I add junior advocates?

In an ‘always on’ world of messaging and communication it’s important to recognise the impact of online and offline influence at all levels of your business; whether it’s how a new hire talks about their first week in the business with their friends over a drink or a long standing employee posts a review on glassdoor.

Clearly if you have an environment of high employee advocacy, where employees have a real sense of pride and responsibility, then this is something that should be harnessed and used.  If this is ‘work in progress’ then helping guide managers to influence their teams positively in line with the company vision and values is at least a starting point for collaborative change.

Being very clear with everybody in the business as to how crucially important it is that they keep talent acquisition at the front of their mind is one of the key aspects a TA function can influence over and above ‘business as usual’. Developing a culture where this is seen as ‘normal’ and something inherent in everybody’s job relevant to the success of the business starts to change the focus and level of importance.

Snowball effect of success

An ‘everyone is a recruiter’ approach should also be thought about in the context of those outside of the business as well as those inside it. Do not underestimate the wider effect of family, friends and candidates going through process – arguably the most important bunch of potential brand advocates.

One of our members highlighted how they receive in excess of 330,000 applications in the run up to Christmas – that’s a massive potential set of ‘recruiters’ dependant on their candidate experience.


To ensure the best possible chance of success, in addition to the above, our members talked about considering the following aspects:

Who do we hire?

Be clear on who you hire and what ‘good’ looks like. Communicate this openly and regularly.

If you hire based on values, attitudes and behaviours then also giving flexibility as to the fact that referred candidates might not be 100% right (but we can train the remaining piece) ensures a rich diversity of interest in your business. Having an objective way to measure this is clearly a significant advantage.

Candidate Experience

Clearly set out expectations for both your team and the business more generally and work hard to achieve them. For example, poor candidate experience is the quickest way to alienate and annoy both the candidate and the employee who recommended/ influenced them.

Some of the common areas to explore and identify some best practice may include advice as to Managers keeping candidates waiting, slow feedback/no feedback (especially important where candidates are a potential customer), interview techniques (‘how to’ guides) and the importance of ‘small’ touches – i.e. when a candidate comes into the process, is met at reception and so on.


Giving the business the framework and tools to actually practically know what to do in terms of driving talent into the business is also a key element of success especially given the constraints on everybody’s time.

Therefore you need to be really prescriptive – why is it important? (“what’s in it for me?”), what can they do and how? – i.e. updating LinkedIn profiles and guidance on settings, posting a blog, sharing vacancies and updates with their own comments and highlighting the USP’s and reinforce with a success story.


Individuals within a business can provide a phenomenal ‘first hand’ voice as to what it’s like to work here (more about the environment, less about ‘the job’). They actually see people ‘like them’ who they can relate to and so encouraging and enabling practical means for this to happen is crucial.

For example, you may decide to promote an Agency day where the Head of IT talks passionately about really interesting and different aspects/projects that brings the business to life. Successfully invite people into experiencing ‘your’ world and you instantly have a much quicker, easier and more applicable way to engage and captivate prospective candidates interest.

In addition communicate consistently to the business about new joiners – who are they, what did they do, where did they come from (referral success), something about them as a person. By doing this people start to ‘get it’ and it begins to create the feeling that you are part of a family.


There is lots to consider when setting out a strategy to truly harness the power of focusing everybody on becoming a recruiter within your business. But if you get it right, you’ll have created an extremely productive and pro-active engine to drive your talent acquisition efforts.

If budget is a key issue (as it invariably can be), think about strategically targeting a key advocate or area of the business that has consistent/challenging hiring. In addition, focusing on the simple things and getting 1% improvement consistently will gradually build momentum and the cycle of positive.

Finally, keep it alive! Even if people don’t have any jobs in their area, keep the messages and comms happening so that they don’t forget about TA.

Mark Barnicoat

Written by , Managing Director

Mark is the Co-founder of Oasis HR and, as Managing Director, responsible for all day-to-day operations and strategically realising the over-arching vision. A Law Graduate with over 17 years experience in the recruitment space, Mark has a passion for people & personal development and is a trained NLP Master Practitioner. Outside of work Mark enjoys sports and adrenaline activities and (kids permitting) enjoys downhill Mountain Biking, Snowboarding and anything with an engine! Mark is also a Licensed FA coach and committed member of his son's Football club. Positive, honest, focused, hard working and family orientated Mark has been instrumental in creating a recognisable, well regarded and respected name in the HR world; an achievement recognised through multiple award successes.

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