Ease the hidden risks of employee referrals.

 
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As hiring gets more difficult, employee-referral programs can be a reliable, inexpensive way to find great talent. But take note: Relying too heavily on referrals can place you at risk of a discrimination charge. That's because, studies show, employees tend to refer people like themselves.

Employers have been slapped with million-dollar discrimination judgments for homogenous hiring that resulted from employee referrals.

To structure a legally sound referral program:

Limit the use of referrals to no more than 40% of hires. Don't make it your only recruiting tool.

Use several channels to spread the word about open positions: your website, career fairs and public advertising. Always post jobs internally, too.

Open your referral program to all employees. Don't accept referrals only for certain job types...

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