In the beginning of 2016, Branch was at a team-building crossroads: The deep-linking platform for the world's top brands had to hit lofty hiring goals in order to support their growing list of 10,000+ customers (including Drafted). They needed to scale from 40 teammates to 90, they were relying heavily on staffing agencies to fill open jobs, and they were about to hire an in-office talent acquisition team to reduce their agency dependency and transform hiring.
It was at this time that Monica Cuyong joined Branch as a technical recruiter and team lead. Along with her teammate Viviana De La Torre, they would find alternative sources of qualified candidates and scale the team by 50 in under a year.
Monica spent the first part of her career working in Customer Service, and eventually managing several teams, at tech companies with the traditional “work hard, play hard, drink cold brew” cultures. And while she felt the culture at these companies had room to grow, she found her calling when it came to working with her recruiting teams to find and hire great customer service reps.
When she decided to make the leap into recruiting full-time, she was surprised how quickly she found a team whose culture aligned with her values. Monica joined Branch, in part, because of their culture of balance. She explained that at Branch, “It’s not the traditional ping-pong table, dartboards, kegs, stay-forever atmosphere. We’re able to balance what we like to do outside of work with being efficient while we’re at work.” It was February 2016.
When Monica joined Branch, she and teammate Viviana had to quickly determine what to prioritize and why.
Previously, the team relied almost exclusively on staffing firms to source and hire team members. Branch was short-staffed and did not have an in-office recruiting presence. Monica and Viviana knew that removing Branch’s dependency on expensive staffing firms, that could cost up to $25,000 per hire, was their first priority. So, they built a plan to “cut the fat” and reduce their reliance on agencies.They focused on two areas of improvement: Adopting better recruiting technology and renewing their referral program. The tech part proved easy enough: Monica and her team invested in industry-leading sourcing and tracking tools and built processes to help guide candidates through the funnel. Referrals required a bit more transformation.
Referrals were just 15% of Branch’s hires when Monica joined. She discovered why referral rates were so low at a company offsite soon after she joined: Branch has a lower candidate acceptance rate than an Ivy League school! But she knew that her team could improve those stats.She explained the dilemma that many team members were facing when referring friends: “It’s hard for a referral to get through the entire hiring process at Branch, and this was discouraging team members from recommending people who might be a good fit, but who they weren’t sure about.” In order to improve, the team decided to roll out a tiered referral program that allows Branch to see quality candidates while also encouraging the team to participate.
Referrers now receive a small reward of $25 for any candidate that passes application screening, a $750 reward for an onsite, and a $2000 when their referral hire reaches the 45-day mark at Branch.The team also tracked metrics around who made referrals, where referral candidates were in the pipeline, and payout schedules. They started showing (and continue to show) these metrics as a “Referral Leaderboard” slide in their company all-hands meeting to show progress and voila! The tiered referral reward program, along with reminders and promotion, increased referral hires to 30% in 2016!
“Even though a candidate might not get hired, we still want to compensate our team for suggesting quality people who make it through the pipeline,” explained Monica. While the monetary reward isn’t the reason that Branch team members refer, it helps people feel like their contributions are valuable while enabling Branch to see a volume of quality candidates that they might not get to see otherwise.
“People value the culture at Branch. They’re referring because they think the person that they’re recommending would thrive and be happy here,” shared Monica. “And at the rate that we’re growing, and the type of talent that we need, we really depend on those networks of the people on our team, who know the culture here. It’s one of the most valuable parts of our hiring strategy.”