Pre-employment referencing falls firmly into the ‘boring, but important’ box. Important, because it delivers the peace of mind that you’ve hired the right candidate for the job.  Boring because, for such a repetitive, mundane and simple task, it absorbs a disproportionate amount of HR time, endlessly chasing down elusive referees.  But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Taking up references is a crucial part of the recruitment process. Correctly done, it reduces the risk of making poor recruitment decisions and also helps to protect your reputation as a business. After the recruitment process, referencing is the final check that you have made the right choice and that the on-boarding process can start: it offers that priceless commodity, peace of mind.

It may be that you need to check only the basics: was this person employed when and how they say they were at ‘ACME Enterprises’. Certain industries (such as those working with children or vulnerable people, or those with access to highly sensitive information) will also require compulsory background checks, such as DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service), which detail an individual’s unprotected Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands and Warnings and can also include intelligence held by the police and/or the DBS that relate the individual’s suitability for a job position. It’s vital that these checks are completed properly and promptly to fulfil legal obligations and safeguard customers, staff and future business. In fact, in such industries, new recruits are not allowed to even start their new job until full background checks have been completed successfully.

In most cases, you should be ideally seeking a much more in-depth reference, including details about their performance in specific areas, their skill set, their attendance record etc. You may even want a more personal reference from someone who worked with them closely and knows their character through and through. This information can be vital because you are verifying the person’s overall fit for the job and the organisation (their career history, performance record, and personality) with someone who has first-hand experience of working with them. This is belt and braces stuff, but it is vital nonetheless; probably one of the biggest risks you’ll take in business is in the decisions you make about the people you hire – do it right, and you will see your business go from strength to strength as a result, but get it wrong, and the ripple effect can be far reaching, costly and potentially damaging to your business’ reputation. Working out you’ve misjudged someone before they sign the offer letter and joined the business is a setback, but finding it out once they’re already on board is a considerably more complicated problem.

Whichever option(s) you choose for references, you are building to the same end goal: peace of mind that you have hired the right person for the job and that this person is who they claim to be. With identity fraud now rife in broader society, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that someone could be posing as someone else, or that they could have lied about their academic or professional qualifications, their time in previous roles, their previous job titles etc. The recruitment process always involves a certain leap of faith, but by taking up proper references, you can minimize this risk.

Consider also that proper reference checks offer peace of mind to the job seeker as well; it builds a picture of a professional, organised and credible company. This may offer reassurance to the job seeker that things are done properly here, that it’s not a place where people wing it and hope for the best, but an organisation where due diligence is practiced. So even before you get to the induction stage, a seemingly small thing such as taking up references is building a picture of your company culture – and could still be a deal breaker for candidates even at that stage. And formalising processes such as referencing sets the tone for the rest of that person’s employment.

If you’re convinced that taking up references is the way forward, you’ve made a wise choice. The next hurdle is how to go about it; for many time – poor employers, this comes as the main stumbling block. The traditional method of collecting references involves a rather large paper trail of requests for referees, letters sent out to previous employers, more letters sent out to chase the first letters, letters to chase up the chaser letters…well, you get the picture. That option might not be very appealing unless you really like writing letters,  and unless you’re prepared to do a lot of waiting around for replies.  Because, whilst your reference checks sit pretty high on your agenda, they’re possibly the lowest priority thing on the referee’s task list.  Unless you make it as quick, efficient and hassle free for them as possible, there’s a strong chance you’ll never hear back and your reference request letter will sit gathering dust in their ‘pending’ tray.

That’s why, at great{with}talent, we’ve come up with a much slicker process; for you, the employer, and for the referees who you are reaching out to. Our solution is quick off the mark, light on the admin, and guarantees a speedy and reliable response rate. It’s called ReferenceExpert, and it’s a tool which takes reference checking into the modern age – it’s online, intuitive and even enabled for smartphones and mobile devices. No more letters, and next to no admin; we make technology do the work for everyone involved. So, rather than taking time to send out multiple letters per applicant, we ask you to take 10 seconds to log into your account, add the candidate and select the type of reference you require from three standard options. Easy as that (even easier, in fact, if you opt for the version whereby the onus is upon the applicant to log in and complete their own referee data). We do everything else for you (send out the email, chase up referees for you and alert you when the resulting reports are available), and you can login to the system at any time for a quick progress update on what’s completed and what’s pending.  As for the referees, there’s no tedium involved for them either.  Whether your reference request lands on their computer, their smartphone or their tablet (by email or by text message), their response involves nothing more than clicking through to a quick and easy questionnaire. We’ve eliminated the bit that everyone hates – paperwork!

Our site is super secure so you won’t have any worries about information going astray or not reaching the target. And completion rates are impressive – 75-80%, to be precise – because the system we have created is incredibly user-friendly with no admin or time intervention required. The fact that it is mobile enabled makes it time efficient and flexible for people on the go. Reference Expert can even link to your HR or recruitment software for a truly seamless process. PDF reports are available with just one click and you’ll have free helpdesk support whenever you need it. We can customise everything to incorporate your branding, so from an external perspective, prospective hires and their referees won’t know any different.

You don’t need to worry about cost either. Our pricing structure is simple – with Reference Expert you purchase reference units to use when you need them, so you are not paying for a monthly subscription that goes unused.  Each completed reference (regardless of how basic or detailed) uses one unit, including report generation. If you invite a referee to complete a reference and they don’t do it, you don’t get charged. It’s a completely flexible service that works when you want it to and the pay as you go set-up makes it incredibly cost effective. Reference units are not time limited and never expire, so they will never go to waste – in fact, our pricing structure operates on an ‘economies of scale’ model, so if you purchase higher volumes, it just makes every reference cheaper.

There is more information for you on our website – you can arrange a demo, watch a video, or sign up for our 30 day free ‘no strings attached’ trial. We’re confident that after a month of hassle free candidate referencing you won’t look back.


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