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Employee Referral Page

How to leverage memory in your hiring strategy

Neel J Shah
March 19, 2023

The human brain can store the equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes of digital memory, making your iPhone look fairly shoddy in comparison. At the same time, our short term memory only lasts between 20 to 30 seconds, so by the time you’ve read this article, even this sentence will be a distant memory.

You don’t have to be a neuroscientist to know that tapping into our employees’ memories can help us recruit more efficiently. But how can we navigate those neural circuits and get your co-workers to recall the top talent from their past? Let’s explore how understanding memory can help your hiring teams attract more candidates.

What is the ‘memory palace’?

It might sound like a casino, but the concept of the ‘memory palace’ is actually way more interesting. In fact, venture capital gods Sequoia Capital penned a blog which referenced the term. According to folklore, Roman scholar Cicero was able to recite long poems by making a mental note for each stanza and assigning it to a feature of his home. During a recital, he would take a ‘mental walk’ through the rooms, which enabled him to recall each verse.

Our ability to remember people is hardwired into our biology. This fascinating New Yorker piece claims that the average person can maintain around 150 people in their social group, citing the anthropologist Robin Dunbar. “Anything beyond that would be too complicated to handle at optimal processing levels,” the article observes.

So, the science indicates that our memories are fragmentary, ‘flawed’, but with the right nudging, capable of storing useful pieces of information. As we think about our referral strategies, are there methods that can help our referrers conjure those ghosts from the past?

How to leverage memories in your referral strategy

Here are five ways you can overcome the ‘memory palace’ and get your co-workers to recite employee referrals like a wise Roman poet.

  1. Verbal cues

Setting up a chat between a hiring manager and your employees gives ample opportunities to drop a few trigger sentences into the mix. Through guided conversation, you can walk your co-worker through their memory palace, starting in the room marked ‘first graduate job’. “Who was the smartest person you worked with there?” Rather than seeing floor cushions and picture frames, you might get a promising lead. It’s amazing what we tend to forget, and having these sorts of chats could take your referrer on all sorts of tangents, and be more fun than you think.

  1. Sourcing jams

We’re all social creatures at the end of the day, and getting your co-workers together in a sourcing jam, or referral party, could be a great way to spark memories. It gives you the opportunity to start a conversation with some of your best people in the room, and pool their collective wisdom – and memory banks – to come up with leads. By showing your employees that you take referrals seriously, and even offer rewards for the best referrers, you can incentivise them to throw open the doors of their memory palace.

  1. Give the employee a copy

If you’ve sat down with an employee and generated some good leads, it’s a sensible idea to share the list of people you’ve contacted – or intend to contact – with the referrer. This is not only a nice and courteous thing to do, but it may also inspire further leads from your employee, as the list may jog their memory about other blasts from the past.

  1. Send reminders

Even with a razor-sharp memory, we all need a nudge now and then. You can encourage your hiring team to mention your referral program at every appropriate opportunity, from email reminders to a quick shout-out during the morning stand-up. The more visible your referral program is, the more it will sink in.

  1. Leverage new starters

New recruits are often keen to make a good first impression, so they’re definitely your allies when it comes to sourcing referrals. By planting the seed early that you take referrals seriously, you can begin to embed a referral culture among newbies, who will ultimately be driving your organisation forward in the future. Plus, the simple fact is that new starters will have a relatively fresh memory when it comes to recommending the bright sparks they recently worked with.

Make referrals a breeze with Intrro

Why rely on our memories alone when technology can do the heavy lifting? Intrro removes the need for memory-based referrals; instead, it matches relevant talent in your employees’ network to suitable open roles. In doing so, Intrro is transforming the old manual ways of doing recruitment so that you can hire talent in a simple, streamlined collaboration tool. Try for yourself and take a free trial.

Give Intrro a try for free

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