Employees: 68.

At software and consulting company Collabraspace, the human resources team has found personal referrals to be its most valuable tool for hiring.

“We’ve probably hired more than half the staff through that channel,” said Michelle Flesher, the firm’s personnel director.

To motivate employees to keep the good recommendations coming, the company offers a generous referral bonus of $10,000. And while many companies make the payout contingent on whether the new employee stays for a given amount of time, Collabraspace referrers get their reward as soon as the new hire gets a paycheck.

“If we don’t do our job during the interview process, that’s our fault,” Flesher said.

Frank Blackowitz, a technical consultant, earned $30,000 in bonuses during his first six months of working at Collabraspace by referring three friends that he knew from previous jobs.

In one case, he said the possibility of the bonus made him go out of his way to not only refer a job candidate, but to help her rewrite her résuméand prepare for the job interview.

“If the sum of money either wasn’t as big or it wasn’t immediate, I don’t think I would’ve been as motivated,” Blackowitz said.

The bonuses, Flesher said, are part of a broader strategy to help Collabraspace land the most talented workers.

“It’s very competitive. It’s a small pool in our industry. We’re all kind of looking for very similar-type skills,” Flesher said.

In recent months, the company has taken its referral bonus program a step further. It is now offering cash payouts of $2,500 to non-employees who refer a job candidate that gets hired.

This idea was hatched because the company said it frequently gets useful referrals from former employees who were familiar with the demands and culture at Collabraspace.

“They never really got anything out of it, and we decided that they should,” Flesher said.