Another Employee-referral Platform Is Going Bye-Bye

I wrote about Indeed’s dip into the referral program business back in September 2016 with a post entitled We Are All Recruiters Thanks to Indeed Crowd. Unfortunately for Indeed, it looks like there weren’t enough people wanting to become amateur recruiters. The company let users know in an email on Monday that Crowd will officially say bye-bye on May 7, 2018.

“As a registered recruiter, we want to let you know that the Indeed Crowd Beta program is ending,” said the email. “We’ve learned a lot over the last two years of the beta, and we thank you for your participation.”

Add Indeed, quite possibly the most well-funded and successful site to throw in the towel on the business of referral rewards, to the likes of H3, Zubka, YorZ, Jobster,, and KarmaOne. The business model makes perfect sense, enabling people to refer friends and colleagues to job openings in return for a cash reward if a hire occurs.

Perfect sense be damned, however, as referral programs have an awful history of failure. Why? Hans Gieskes, founder of the aforementioned H3, offers the following: “You can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make him/her drink. Only 4 percent of people are actual ‘connectors,’ perhaps proven by fact that fewer than 4 percent of LinkedIn’s members are in ‘500+’ category.

“No wonder that in traditional ERP programs only a fraction of employees actually take part and score (multiple) rewards. It’s great that hundreds of millions of people have a LinkedIn or Facebook account, but 96 percent of them will never become successful networkers regardless. So all these referral recruiting solutions are wasted on the majority of employees / people.”

Indeed Crowd debuted with rewards of $2,000, but eventually one could get thousands more per successful referral and hire. The dollar figure that will actually motivate people to put their recruiting hats on and refer friends remains a mystery. However, announced last month, Ladders is launching its own referral program, promising a $10,000 reward.

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Good luck with that.

“On April 5, 2018, we ceased listing new jobs on the Crowd platform,” Indeed’s email said. “Any jobs listed on Crowd directly by employers will be removed when they expire, or on May 7, 2018, whichever comes first. Jobs listed on Crowd directly by Indeed will be closed in the coming days.”

For anyone with referred candidates who are currently in play, Indeed will continue to issue rewards (both Match rewards and hire bonuses) for those candidates. For more information, visit Crowd’s FAQ page.

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.


4 Comments on “Another Employee-referral Platform Is Going Bye-Bye

  1. It is important to note the difference between “non-employee” (crowd sourcing) and “employee referral programs”. This article seems to lump crowd sourcing in with the traditional employee referral programs when in reality they are two different things. The failure of Indeed’s beta Crowd platform and those other companies mentioned all fall under the non-employee referral program model (crowd sourcing). Joel, you should probably change the title of the article to “Another NON-Employee-referral Platform Is Going Bye-Bye”.

  2. Almost all referral technology solutions are at best addressing only 1/2 the challenge. Helping a prospect become a candidate WITH a referral from an employee (who hasn’t participated in first reaching out or isn’t already connected on LI etc.) is still a strategy left to the coaching community to execute. Evidence continues to support the outcome that while only about 4% of the candidates for any one job have an employee referring them, those 4% get 20%-30% of all the offers. As a side issue, eliminating or separating from ‘referral’ categories all “Friends and Family” political/influence referrals, continues to demotivate professionals from leveraging their programs.

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