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Revisiting The Value of Reference Checks

It’s the point in the recruiting process that many Talent Acquisition Professionals see as more of a chore and less of a value-add when finalizing candidate selections; time to check references. Should a candidate be turned away solely due to a reference check? No, especially not in today’s market. That being said, there are a few benefits to reference checks that many recruiters may be overlooking.

HR Works’ Senior Director of Strategic Placements, Adrienne Schleigh, shares her perspective as to why it’s time to embrace reference checks:

  • References are a great way to network!  When talking with a candidate’s references, I take a bit of time to explain what HR Works does, who we recruit for, and talk a little bit about my philosophy in helping to find people opportunities that they love. Simply explaining this has led to numerous requests to connect on LinkedIn, references sending their resumes, sending other job seekers to me, etc. I additionally point references to HR Works’ LinkedIn page and let them know we disseminate important HR updates, career opportunities, etc. They are taking the time to help us, so why not help them as well? And the growth in HR Works’ followers makes this a win/win.
  • References provide information on what type of employer YOU need to be in order to attract and retain the candidate. I end my reference calls asking what can we do to ensure we’re providing the candidate the environment they need to be successful. The information gathered in this question alone is more valuable than the rest! Not only does it leave a great impression on the reference, you gather information that can ensure the future employee has any support and training needed to be successful in the role.
  • Reference checks can support your intuition. Interviewing is skill, yes. But it’s also important to be mindful of intuition. A comment made by a reference can lend weight to information gathered during the interview process. The candidate worked better in a team environment? Is that the environment you can provide? If not, best to be very clear with the candidate what autonomy the role entails and be completely transparent if a high degree of support is not possible. The candidate left because they needed more opportunity?  Is there growth opportunity in your role? If it’s not there, don’t promise it…it’s not a carrot to be extended.

As ethical talent acquisition professionals, our job is not just to fill requisitions or meet quotas.  Our job is to ensure people can be successful in their careers.  Job seekers sometimes need help understanding what kinds of jobs and environments they need.  As information gatherers, as detectives of talent, we can help people help themselves by ensuring that the roles they are applying for are not just a rehash of what has not worked for them in the past. It’s not always an easy conversation, but it’s a necessary one. And if you build trust with the candidate and are ultimately focused on helping them to be successful, the conversation is met with genuine appreciation. 

Struggling with the recruitment or retention of an Human Resources professional?  Reach out to HR Works today!

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Adrienne Schleigh | Senior Director, Talent Acquisition Services
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HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.