Acclaimd puts a new spin on the employee referral program

A new web-based employee referral program aims to help hiring professionals at mid-sized companies realize the benefits of referral-based hiring.

The program is called Acclaimd and its beginnings can be traced back to Startup Weekend Columbus in February, when its founders were focused on the struggles faced by those seeking employment.

However, they discovered it was tough to make job seekers the customer, so they decided to investigate the other side of the problem, which is that most fast-growing companies −particularly in the early stages− have very few options for finding good talent quickly.

“Social recruiting caught our eyes because it gives a company the ability to reach out to a broad audience at minimal cost, but it suffers the same poor applicant quality seen with most job boards,” says Acclaimd Co-Founder Derek Edwards.

“Finally, we asked what would happen if we were to combine social recruiting techniques with the tried and true mechanism of employee referrals,” he says. “It resonated with investors and, as luck would have it, nearly every HR director we’ve since contacted.”

Considering that Edwards claims referral-based hires are 14 percent more productive, rank themselves among the happiest employees, and are more likely to offer up their own referrals, it’s not difficult to see why they’ve been so receptive.

Referral-based hiring programs also stand to benefit employees, Edwards says, as they have more say in the hiring process, and can work with people they know, like and trust.

In the minds of Acclaimd’s co-founders (which include Rory Daley and Kurt Prosser), the biggest drawback to the average employee referral program is its manual nature.

“Maybe your hiring manager casually mentions that he’s looking for a new web developer and there’s a referral bonus if you recommend someone,” Edwards says. “If you don’t forget about the opening in the course of doing your job, it’s on you to think of someone out of all your friends and acquaintances who might be a match. Assuming you think of someone, you’ll typically email HR with a name and resume, and leave it up to them to contact the candidate.

“Let’s say you’re lucky and your referral gets hired. It’s usually up to you to follow up with HR weeks or months later to collect your referral bonus. If your referral isn’t hired, you have nothing to show for the time you put in. This is a broken system that deters employee participation.”

At this time, Acclaimd has just one domestic competitor. It shares some functional similarities, but its revenue model centers on charging a percentage of the referral bonus (instead of a nominal monthly subscription).

“We considered following a similar path, but feedback from HR directors suggested that this model could pose problems from a budgeting standpoint in addition to concerns about paying referral bonuses outside of the normal payroll process,” Edwards says.

Acclaimd will launch a limited beta program toward the end of this month, and an open beta is scheduled for late September.

Currently Acclaimd is welcoming beta user applications from local and regional fast-growing companies that have 100 to 1,000 employees and hard-to-fill positions.

Companies interested in being beta users should contact Acclaimd via email at [email protected]

To learn more about Acclaimd, visit