Maybe you should wait to do this until after you've collected your bonus...
Baerbel Schmidt—Getty Images
By Donna Rosato
August 26, 2014

Raises are expected to be measly for most folks in the coming year, but a new survey out today reveals an easy way to get a bump up in your compensation: Recruit your friends.

As the job market rapidly improves, many employers are struggling to attract talent, according to the survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Three-quarters of human resources execs polled said they were having difficulty filling open positions because of the shortage of skilled and experienced workers.

So, to unearth talent, Challenger reports that nearly 40% of employers are offering referral bonuses to encourage their own workers to send good job candidates their way. A survey in June by human resources association WorldatWork put the number even higher: That survey found that 63% of companies had referral bonus programs, up from 60% in 2010.

If you work for one of these firms, the payoff can be pretty juicy, as you can see here:

Source: WorldatWork

Of course, these are only averages and for one level of position. Your take can be higher if you work in a complex field or position for which there is a lot of demand. For example, in Detroit, some accounting firms are paying workers as much as $5,000 for CPA referrals, Crain’s Detroit Business recently reported.

One-third of all hires come via internal referrals, according to recruiting consultant CareerXRoads. Hiring managers like internal referrals because they are a less costly way to find workers, and those hires have better retention rates. People already on staff have a good sense of the job and are more likely to reach out to passive candidates who might not be in the job market but would move for the right opportunity.

The bonus isn’t the only way you can benefit from making a good referral. Workers who find talent for hard-to-fill jobs are also valued as problem solvers.

Just don’t give that referral lightly. If the person doesn’t work out, it can reflect poorly on you. And you’ll typically need the person to stick it out in the job to collect your loot—the majority of companies don’t pay out the bonus until the new employee has been on the job between one and a half and six months, according to WorldatWork.

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