Are employee references a vital part of your recruitment and on-boarding process, or a tiresome administrative burden? More than likely, it’s both. References are a bit like buying insurance: most of the time you probably won’t need them but it’s a gamble that could cost you dearly if you don’t carry them out.   

There is a strong argument that pre-employment referencing is a vital part of the recruitment process, reducing the risk of hiring mistakes and safeguarding your company’s reputation. References check that the person you wish to hire is properly qualified and experienced enough to do the role required. There are various types of reference check you can carry out as an employer, from a basic ‘did they work there’ request, through to detailed character and attribute references, even criminal bureau checks in the form of DBS checks.  Even if you have a fantastic recruitment process, there is no substitute for feedback from previous employers that have seen this person in action and can tell you how they have performed previously.  It is possibly your best indicator of how they will perform in the future. It’s also part of your due diligence as an employer, that you carry out referencing in a legal and ethical manner, and it all builds on your core values as a business and your employer branding.

So far, so good. The issue then arises in how references are collected. The traditional method involves paper.  Endless reams of paper.  There’s a form from the person who you want to run checks on; an individual letter sent to each referee; chaser letters sent; a cumbersome tracker to monitor returned pieces of paper and a person at the end of the process drowning in a sea of paper. It’s not very appealing, is it? So why, in this day and age, when you can conquer the world via a smart phone, do companies persist with paper referencing? It’s arduous, time-consuming and not really very efficient or effective: response rates to traditional paper requests are low and the quality of information that is returned is often below par. It’s enough to put you off altogether. Large companies with high volume recruitment may be fortunate enough to have a full time resource allocated purely to collecting references. But for many SMEs, such luxury cannot be afforded and it falls to the relevant recruiting manager to collect references. This leads to a number of issues.

Firstly, time. A hiring manager who has already spent a considerable investment of their time screening CVs and interviewing does not generally want to spend more of their time sending out reference requests and chasing them up when they don’t return. This leads to reference checks either not being done, or not being followed through – which is the same end result: no proper references and an immediate risk to the business if this person is hired.

Then there’s cost.  The hiring manager could be anyone from middle to senior management, which begs the question: is the administrative task of sending out reference requests the best use of their time? If they allocate the responsibility elsewhere – for example to an admin support role – instantly that personal connection to the process is lost and it becomes another task. That’s not to say that it won’t get done, just that it will get done when that person gets to it but without perhaps without the same sense of urgency. This can lead to delays and more management time lost in chasing up the person who is chasing up the references. All a big, fat waste of time.

On to skill-set: hiring managers from different areas of the business need to have a consistent approach to requesting information and dealing with the information that comes back. For example, you may not want one manager requesting references quite informally on the phone, whilst another sends out formal letters on company letterhead. Both of these techniques may be useful, but there needs to be some coordination to protect the company reputation and harmonise the candidate experience. They also need to know what to do with the information that comes back. Without training, would all hiring mangers know what to ask, or what to do if they receive a bad reference for someone?

So, you want to collect references to complete your hiring process. But you don’t have the resource, skill set or time to do it in-house. What’s the answer? One option is to completely outsource referencing to an external company.  This can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. What if there was a cost effective solution that still gave great service and achieved fantastic results?  You’d snap it up, surely!

Here at great{with}talent, we’ve developed just that solution.  It’s called ReferenceExpert, and it offers reference checks at a fraction of the price of other systems. Our aim with ReferenceExpert is to make it easier, quicker and cheaper for employers to take up references by making technology do all the hard work. There are three different types of reference request available, from a basic confirmation that an employee was known to a company, to a personal reference or detailed request for information on skill sets, attributes, attendance and the like. Full PDF reference reports are available with just one click and we throw in help desk support for free whenever you need it. The whole process can be tailored to your needs and we can even customise it for you by adding your logo on everything so that the candidate gets the same branding experience as they would from your own materials. We can even integrate Reference Expert with your recruitment software or HR system.

It takes just 10 seconds for you to log onto your account, add the candidate and select which type of reference you need, either a detailed or a basic reference. We do everything else (send out the email, chase up referees for you and alert you when they are available), freeing you up to spend your working hours doing something more productive, like growing your business.

We have made the pricing structure very straightforward too: you buy credits to use when you need them. There is no monthly subscription going to waste, nor an annual fee. You pay for what you use. So if you’re not recruiting and taking up references, you won’t be paying for our service. We think you’ll agree that this pay as you go set-up makes it an incredibly cost effective system. What’s more, you don’t pay for what you don’t get back.  So, if a referee doesn’t get back to us and complete the reference, we won’t charge you.

Because our system is so user-friendly, our response rates are as high as 75-80% – that’s in no small part down to the fact that our system is mobile enabled, meaning that you and your referees can use it on the go (another huge plus for the time-poor). We’ll deliver your reference requests via text or email, and when we get the responses back, you’ll get an immediate alert.  You can check in to the portal any time you like to see a user friendly status report showing what’s compete and what’s still pending.

ReferenceExpert will save you hours and hours in lost productivity time, speed up your time to hire and offer the peace of mind of good referencing practice without any of the hassle, and at minimal cost. We don’t think you’ll need much convincing, especially when you arrange a demo or even try it for free with our 30 day obligation free trial. What’s not to love? (And there’s a phrase you never thought you’d see alongside a topic like referencing!).


Visit our website www.greatwithtalent.com for more information about our products and services.