The Magic of Referrals

Mia Nguyen Mia Nguyen
The Magic of Referrals

RemoteHQ welcomed Vinayak Ranade to the Future of Work show to discuss referrals. Dialing in from Cambridge, Massachusetts where his 10-person company is based, Vinayak is the founder and CEO of Drafted, the network recruiting platform. Prior to Drafted, Vinayak served as the Director of Engineering at KAYAK (acq. by Priceline $2B), overseeing engineering and recruiting for all of KAYAK's mobile products. An MIT alum, Vinayak still occasionally writes code and is an investor/advisor at a handful of startups.

🎧Watch Here

To dive right in, click below to watch the full interview on YouTube.

💨Quick Takeaways

While Director of Engineering at Kayak, one of Vinayak’s biggest learnings was how to build a superstar team as he also led the hiring process for the Mobile team. Passionate about referrals and network recruiting, Vinayak began working on Drafted with a team that is built from 70% referrals. Having been on all three prongs of the triangle - going through the hiring process himself, hiring for an internal team inside a larger company, and now hiring for his own company - Vinayak is an expert in the recruitment process.

How is the stigma around lay-offs changing?

Historically when an individual was laid off there was a negative stigma. It was very “hush,” people didn’t know how to support or communicate with the now no longer co-worker, and the individual had forced feelings of being ashamed and embarrassed. This was when there was a lack of distinguishing between the reasoning for the lay-off: performance reasons or the inability to continue paying their salary. The two are very different and the latter is nothing to be ashamed of! With the implications of COVID-19 and external praise of those who unfortunately had to be let go, people shouldn’t look at those laid-off as poor employees but rather as a talent pool!

Why do people make referrals?

Referrals are very serendipitous, and when it happens it’s magical. People’s initial desire to make referrals because they want to help someone: a team member, manager, or friend. Once they’re hired and the individual who referred them sees the impact made, then they make seek a financial reward. As Vinayak says, it’s less about the bonus and more about the intangible reward.

How do I ensure diversity in my recruiting?

While birds of the same feather tend to flock together, teams can balance the benefits of referrals with their diversity & inclusion efforts by beginning with a diverse team! Vinayak suggests directing the energy of those making the referrals to the right place. For example, ask each employee to refer a friend that is from an underserved minority or company. Referrals aren’t bad, bu referrals without thinking are not good.

Should I hire a chief diversity officer?

Vinayak thinks this is not a good solution to the problem. He believes it gives the rest of the executive team an excuse that diversity & inclusion efforts no longer need to be top of mind for them because “there’s a job for that now.” While an individual holding this role may be strong, having the role itself is a band-aid solution rather than a cure. To have successful cultural change, it has to be embodied by everyone within.

Those are just a few pieces of advice that Vinayak has to share. To hear more, watch the full YouTube video here and make sure to follow him on Twitter @pseudovirtual.

Thanks for tuning in,

Mia & the RemoteHQ team