Amit Das

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History of Employee Referrals

History of Employee Referrals

Ever wondered when and how employee referrals came into being? Around the 4th century B.C., there were a lot of jobs to be filled in the Roman army, yet there were not enough candidates and many were poorly qualified. Staffing an army where wars were common wasn’t easier. They needed a consistent pool of soldiers and other support staff like carpenters, doctors, and engineers to keep the army going.


Yet the Romans had devised brilliant plans and formulated many good practices to hire good talent. It is believed that the first employee referral was done by Julius Caesar, wherein he offered 300 Sestertii to any soldier recruiting another into the Roman army. The reward was almost one-third of a soldier’s annual pay. There is a decree signed by Julius Caesar in 55 BC describing the same. This is the earliest documented portion of the referral bonus in the history of the world. It's interesting because it was used for the hardest job in the world - to recruit people to die.


Back in the day, it was known that soldiers who signed up, signed to be away from their families, signed up for the glory know the fact that more often than not they would not return. Yet people were willing to join such a cause. Major reason being the friends whom they trusted the most, who were in it for an experience. So the psychology of a referral or a friend attracting another friend for whatever the task maybe has existed since 55 BC.


Years later, today’s corporate world is facing the same set of problems as Romans in recruitment. While Romans have addressed their difficulty by creating history, what are you going to do?

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