When You Need More Employee Referrals, Try a Hire-a-Thon

July 21, 2014

What if everyone at your company dropped everything for a day, scoured their professional networks, and supplied you with a list of amazing candidates?

Sounds like a fantasy, right?

Well, it’s not at MuleSoft.

MuleSoft is a fast-growing company that provides integration solutions, making it easy to connect apps, data and devices. In the age of cloud, big data, and the Internet of Things, integration is one of the largest unsolved problems in IT, one valued at $527 billion.

MuleSoft recognizes that the only way to grab this massive opportunity is if it can acquire the highest caliber talent as quickly as possible.

“As we continue to grow, our focus remains on hiring top talent,” says Melanie Tantingco, recruiting manager at MuleSoft. “When I joined two years ago, I was employee #95. We’re at 384 today. We will be 500+ by end of this year. That’s about a person a day, including weekends.”

At the heart of MuleSoft’s scaling strategy are employee referrals, and hire-a-thons are one way in which the company accelerates the process. “Our employees’ professional networks are one of our biggest assets and a key way we bring in talent,” continues Melanie. “The synergy between LinkedIn as a recruiting tool and LinkedIn as a networking tool was the genesis for the hire-a-thons.”

Here’s how the hire-a-thon works:

  • Everyone stops working for four hours and gets into teams of about 10 people.
  • Teams are led by an executive and mixed across various departments.
  • Employees scour their LinkedIn networks and flag the best people they’ve ever worked with, in whatever capacity. They also notify their networks that MuleSoft is hiring, helping to spread the word beyond first-degree connections.
  • The teams receive a list of open requisitions, but aren’t limited to them; there’s an “other” category for outstanding candidates who don’t match a role.
  • Points are given for internal referrals (50 points); external referrals (25 points) and bonus points (50 points) for scheduling qualified candidates directly onto recruiters’ calendars during the hire-a-thon.
  • The team with the most points wins a prize. The employee who brings in the highest number of employees as a result of hire-a-thon (judged at the 90-day mark) wins an award of MuleSoft equity.
  • Employees eat as much free pizza as they want.

The output of the hire-a-thon is an employee-generated database of high-quality candidates. The 11 in-house recruiters then start reaching out, working with the referring employee when applicable.

hireaton employee referrals


Between the three participating offices (San Francisco, Buenos Aires, and London) MuleSoft amassed 800 employee referrals, of which 135 interviewed. This led to 12 hires with several still in the pipeline.

“Coincidentally, we also had some employees here from the APAC office during the hire-a-thon. Had they not been here, I’m not sure we would have filled a Singapore-based role so quickly.”

One great benefit from the hire-a-thon is that candidates in the “other” bucket form a pipeline that the recruiters tap into whenever new positions open. “It’s really worked to our advantage because we now have this amazing pipeline,” says Melanie.

There’s been another benefit too: the company has seen an uptick in employee referrals overall since the hire-a-thons. “It’s been a great way to remind everyone that hiring is our #1 priority, and to keep referrals on their radar,” Melanie adds.

“We have a huge market opportunity, and we're going after it with an amazing team. We’re sitting on a once-in-a-career opportunity to strengthen a great culture, provide rocket ship career trajectory, and become a category-defining company. It’s now just about getting these opportunities in front of the right people, and the hire-a-thons are one way we do that.”

The executive team hopes to make hire-a-thons an annual event, but of course they are just one tool in the toolbox. The company also relies on Meetups and Github, especially to help find those candidates who steer clear of social media.

Are you doing enough to encourage employee referrals? Is it time for a hire-a-thon? Let us know your thoughts @HireOnLinkedin.

 how to recruit on linkedin