We’re all familiar with the formality of providing references during the hiring process. It’s generally the final checkbox needed before a job offer is presented. And, while some companies believe they’re outdated and redundant, the majority still rely heavily on this final step to close out the recruitment process.
When done well, a reference check extends far beyond a simple tick-the-box exercise. It can ultimately become the difference between securing your dream job and not.
We asked Mary Snowden, from the Vetting.com team to share why reference checks are so important.
“Pre-employment reference checks provide valuable insight into a prospective employee’s behaviour, allowing businesses to make informed and unbiased hiring decisions. In fact, senior managers cull an overwhelming 34% of applicants after speaking with their references.
Referees also resolve questions that may have been lingering in the hiring manager’s mind, following your interview. They investigate not only your experience and skillset, but your nature, behaviour, and whether you’ll be the right cultural fit for the team” Mary from Vetting.com explains.
Of course, it’s only natural to put your best foot forward and present the greatest version of yourself during a job interview. So, involving a third-party to offer context can be invaluable in backing up your claims and supporting your statements. Reference checks provide realistic, objective, and holistic credibility outside your own self-awareness.
Choosing the right references
While you can’t control exactly what your references say about you, you can control who you choose. Selecting the right referees is vital when formulating a job application. Only select individuals who you know will positively endorse you, as one wrong word could immediately lose you the role.
Asking a direct manager or superior is always preferential over asking a colleague or co-worker. The absence of a senior or managerial reference may raise concern or suspicion about your actual job performance.
You should also consider matching your references to the job. Ask yourself the question: ‘Who’s going to be able to provide the most powerful and compelling evidence in relation to the requirements for this role?’
Briefing your references
“Someone who’s been caught off guard won’t be able to provide a winning reference for you. It’s worth taking the time to brief your referees on what you’re applying for, and relevant projects or skills you’d like them to mention so they can provide a strong testimony on your behalf.” Mary explains.
It’s also good practise to keep your references updated with the status of your job search. Let them know ahead of time that you’re on the hunt for a new role, and that you’ll likely reach out to contact them if, and when required.
Try to make a habit of asking for new references every time you change employer. It’s incredibly beneficial to network and build rapport with industry professionals as you progress throughout your career. This means you’ll have a pool of credible and respected sources to draw upon whenever necessary. LinkedIn is a great tool when it comes to investing in your professional network and staying in touch with like-minded and esteemed industry contacts.
The future for reference checks
Reference checks aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. In fact, they’re only going to become more important and more comprehensive as we become more connected globally.
Vetting.com highlights “digital reference checks are increasing in popularity amongst recruiters to automate background screening. These online checks simplify the manual process and reduce the likelihood of fraudulent references as candidates providing phoney referees can be digitally identified and flagged.”
So, in our answer to our original question – “How important are reference checks in the hiring process? The answer is extremely.
The job market is always a competitive one, and by lining up your professional references now, means you’ll have one less thing to be concerned about when you start the interview process.
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