Your friends in Australia could help land you a job there

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If you want a new job in Australia, make sure you have a friend who’s already at the company you want to work for. Aussie financial firms are ramping up employee referral programs, which pay staff whose recommendations get hired, according to 13 senior human resources professionals from large, mainly global, financial institutions who attended an eFinancialCareers roundtable in Sydney this week.

The delegates, who are based in Sydney and asked not to be named, said human resources departments are under pressure to cut costs by hiring directly rather than rely on recruitment agencies. Employee referrals also tend to be better hires.

“Our turnover rates for referred candidates are half those of people who’ve come through a recruiter," said a roundtable attendee from the Sydney office of a European bank. “Feedback from managers suggests their performance is generally better, too.”

A representative of one of the Big Four accounting firms said he wants to make 40 percent of Australian hires via referrals. “It sounds like a lot, but we’re almost there already," he said.

His counterpart at a large Australian bank said, without providing exact figures, that her firm had experienced a “substantial increase” in referrals over the past year, likely boosted by an annual prize draw that even unsuccessful referrers can enter. “It’s important to foster a culture in which everyone is motivated to take part," she said.

Most companies in Australia provide cash rewards to staff whose candidates end up on the payroll. At one bulge-bracket investment bank these range from between A$3k and A$8k, depending on the seniority of the vacancy filled.

Australian finance employers encourage referrals mainly to fill open roles. But, said a roundtable delegate, if the candidate isn’t suitable for the initial job, the referral is treated as an “open introduction to the bank” for up to a year. If the person snags a different position during this time, the referrer still gets paid.