FIRING SQUAD: Real Links' CEO Sam Davies

Referrals rock! Ask most companies and they'll tell you referrals are the best resource for candidates they currently employ. Unfortunately, vendors hoping to solve the referral riddle have largely fallen on their collective faces. Remember Jobster? H3? Exactly. But one startup is hoping to change all that and they're willing to put their better mousetrap in front of the Firing Squad.

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Announcer: Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad. Chad Sowash and

Joel Cheesman are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, and baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they've got what it takes to make it out alive. Dig a foxhole and duck for cover kids. The Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.

Joel: Oh yeah. I've got an itchy trigger finger today, Chad. We haven't done Firing Squad in a while so I'm pretty pumped today and I've had about eight glasses, sorry, eight cups of coffee. Glasses would be too bougie for me.

Chad: You are pretty bougie.

Joel: It's true. All right, today we are honored to welcome Sammy Davis Jr, also known as Sam Davis, the CEO of Real Links. Sam, straight out of the UK. Man, welcome to firing squad.

Sam: Hey, what's up guys! It's great to be here.

Joel: Pleased to have you here. It's Friday in London, it's almost a happy hour. Are you in a pub right now?

Sam: The rest of our team I'm here with you guys instead.

Chad: You take them and you're like, "Get the fuck out of the office. I've got to do this thing."

Joel: Nice moral support. "Hey boss, we're going down to the pub. Good luck."

Sam: Exactly.

Joel: Jesus Christ. Well, Sam, give us a little bit about you and then Chad will read you the rules, we'll get to the company, but we want to learn a little bit about you because no one knows who the hell you are.

Sam: Yeah, no, that's fair. So yeah, a bit of background on me, I went

into recruitment immediately after university, lasted about six months being a recruitment consultant, randomly doing early years in the North of England. Don't ask where that is. Then decided to kill my soul a little bit more and go into corporate law.

Chad: Oh shit.

Sam: Yeah, it was hell boys. It was. But actually I got referred from one law firm to another law firm and it was that which prompted me to think actually the reason I decided to work here, the reason I decided to join this law firm is because it came from somebody I knew, somebody I trusted. Why is this not happening more? And that was basically the Genesis of this. And thankfully I decided, no offense to my old colleagues, to get the hell out of there and set this up and my life has been significantly better since.

Joel: All right, so who's your football team?

Sam: I am a Chelsea fan.

Joel: Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Sam: I'd go rolling stones.

Joel: All right, very good. Chad, read him the rules.

Chad: All right, Sam, you are going to have two minutes to pitch Real Links. At the end of two minutes you're going to hear the bell. Then Joel and I are going to hit you with rapid fire Q and A. If your answers start rambling, Joel's going to hit you with the crickets. That just means tighten up your game and move along.

Joel: Move along kid.

Chad: That's right. At the end of Q and A, you are going to receive one of three grades. Number one, this is what you want to hear, the big applause.

Chad: That's right. Get your bank account ready. The money's going to be rolling in.

Joel: Make it rain Sammy.

Chad: That's right. Number two, the golf clap. Yeah, you can do better than that. You might be on the boat, but you can do better than that. And last but not least, the Firing Squad. That's right, hit the bricks, close up shop, get the hell out of here because more than likely, this is not the thing for you or anyone else.

Joel: Take your ass to the pub.

Chad: That's Firing Squad. Are you ready Sam?

Sam: Ready.

Joel: Two minutes starting...

Sam: Employee referrals are a great hiring solution. They lead to a 39% better retention rate and candidates are three to four times more likely to be hired to name just a few referral stats. The problem is that generally companies struggle to get more than 10% of annual hires through referrals. That's what our employee referral platform Real Links comes in.

Sam: As you guys know, there are a few other players in the market, so I'm going to focus on what makes us different here. Our platform syncs in employees connections on LinkedIn, email, and Facebook, matches into live vacancies and notifies HR teams and employees when a match has been made.

Sam: Employers have huge networks but it's too unmanageable and time consuming to search through them each time a new vacancy comes up. Our platform makes it manageable and supports diversity in the processes. As candidate data such as name, ethnicity, nationality, and gender is anonymized in the HR view, removing any unconscious bias.

Sam: Our referral methodology is another key differentiator. We use gamification of rewards. We don't take a "one size fits all" approach. Each company is different, so we run focus groups to understand employee motivations and customize the gamification to meet their needs. It might be a raffle, it might be a point space leaderboard, but you don't know until you speak to the employees. This way we're able to increase referral participation and longevity.

Sam: We also boost participation by letting employees select whether a referral is a recommendation or an introduction. People generally only feel comfortable recommending four to five people as referrals, but we have big networks of contacts with relevant skills and experience. Introductions to those contacts are also valuable. Allowing employees to identify what sort of referral it is takes the stigma away from them needing to be recommendations and opens up the referral network.

Sam: Addressing one of the other key reasons for low engagement, we keep employees updated during the referral journey. Employees no longer feel that their referrals end up in a black hole and there's no transparency. We're already working with a number of large organizations including McKesson and Adecco. We white label the platform and do a two way integration with ATSs for our clients.

Sam: Find out more about us and our pilot offering at

Joel: Hello. Look at that, he actually had the website address at the end of it.

Sam: I was listening for the other ones so I heard Joel make that point.

Chad: So it also, it sounds like you've had about three pots of coffee as well.

Sam: Yeah.

Joel: Yeah, he got in a whole lot there in a short period of time.

Chad: Kudos to that. Joel why don't you turn it up.

Joel: Yeah, for our American speaking listeners, that could be a little tough for them.