In today's competitive job market, employers must make informed hiring decisions.
Employment referencing allows recruiters to authenticate resumes, assess potential hires' reliability, and ensure an effective recruitment process. Though it may seem mundane, referencing provides deep insights into an applicant's background, work habits, and suitability for a role. However, it's important to consider the legal and ethical implications involved.
When companies verify an applicant's employment references, they check two things: the dates and positions held and feedback on behaviour and proficiency. While companies are not required by law to do so, many choose to verify basic information. Substantive referencing, which provides more in-depth information on an applicant's behaviour and expertise, is also conducted by some companies.
Nevertheless, it is advisable to be aware of both options. Requesting references from candidates can be highly beneficial if the questions asked go beyond merely verifying employment history and job titles. In certain cases, asking open-ended questions of the reference can provide a more profound understanding of the applicant's strengths, weaknesses, work habits, collaboration skills, and overall job performance.
This approach enables a more comprehensive grasp of a candidate's personality and skills, leading to a more informed hiring decision. However, a straightforward reference check can suffice and can be done digitally to expedite the recruitment process.
A study conducted by Reed Screening examined 100,000 job references and uncovered notable issues in the reference process. These problems include:
Quantity - Out of the 100,000 references requested, only 61% were received.
Accuracy - Among the received references, 31% displayed inconsistencies when compared to the information provided by the candidate.
Relevance - A significant 81% of the received references only contained the employment dates, lacking additional valuable information.
Verification - 65% of the referee data provided by the candidate was found to be incorrect.
Verifying a candidate's employment history is crucial to confirm the accuracy of the information provided. If a candidate intentionally conceals information from a potential employer, it can raise concerns about their honesty and integrity. This could result in delays in the hiring process and may require certain stages of recruitment to be restarted, which can be both time-consuming and expensive.
To ensure the authenticity of references, it's important to request references from official company email addresses or phone numbers to confirm the identity of the referee. Another option is to use instant referencing, which verifies employment dates and salary details using payroll and open banking data. This can help prevent fraudulent references.
In recent years, there has been a rise in recruitment scams and "reference houses" - websites that seem legitimate and offer counterfeit references for a fee. To combat this issue, companies should improve their strategies by conducting IP address verifications of online references, automatically searching for recognized reference houses, and confirming legitimate business addresses.
Traditional reference systems that simply streamline the reference process are unlikely to detect systematic fake references that are used to hide information from a candidate's employment history.
Make security a priority
Sending personal information through email can be risky as there is always a possibility of it being sent to the wrong person or being compromised. Despite implementing protective measures, there is still a chance of fraudulent activities and data leaks when exchanging data through emails and documents.
Employers must comply with data protection and privacy regulations such as GDPR and seek permission from applicants before contacting their references and handling their information. Communicating the purpose of reference verification to avoid any confusion is a must-have.
Respect confidentiality and be objective
It's important to be mindful that former employers may be prohibited from sharing information about a candidate's performance due to privacy agreements. In such cases, it may be necessary to ask the candidate for another professional reference or make a decision without a reference at all.
Refraining from making hasty assumptions or forming opinions based solely on reference feedback is crucial. Keep in mind that references may have their own biases or motives. Consider this information as part of your decision-making process, along with other factors such as work history, qualifications, and training.
Ask for recent references
To obtain an accurate evaluation of a candidate's current skills and work style, it is recommended to request references from their most recent employers.
It is important to verify the authenticity of the reference provider to ensure the reliability of the information provided. Additionally, confirming the details of the candidate's employment helps to eliminate any misleading data, reducing the likelihood of errors.
Cross-check the information
When reference verifications are not in place, fraudsters can easily conceal accurate information. To address this, it is recommended to adopt a thorough evaluation process that includes cross-checking the provided data and closely examining any suspicious inconsistencies or warning signs.
"Remember to look for inconsistencies and discrepancies, as this can provide valuable insight into a candidate's honesty and integrity."Keith Rosser, Director, Reed Screening
Remember to thoroughly check for any inconsistencies and contradictions, as these can provide valuable insights into a candidate's honesty and integrity. Even though there is a digital process in place, it is still considered a best practice to verify the information.
Develop a reference policy
Establishing a clear policy for verifying references is crucial for ensuring fairness and consistency. The policy should outline the procedures and criteria for conducting checks and should be applied consistently to all applicants, regardless of whether the verification process is manual or digital.
Thoroughly reviewing employment history, addressing any gaps in employment, and verifying references provided in resumes is essential. This includes closely examining the dates provided and seeking clarification for any suspicious information. By doing so, we can maintain a safe and secure work environment for everyone.
Employers need to conduct comprehensive employment referencing to ensure they make well-informed hiring decisions. Failing to do so could lead to potential financial or reputational damage. Instant referencing platforms automate the process of gathering and verifying employment references, making it faster and more efficient than traditional methods.
These platforms provide trustworthy information directly from a candidate's previous employers, enabling employers to make better hiring choices.
To learn more about how our instant referencing technology can accelerate and streamline your hiring process, get in touch with one of our experts.