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Why Reference Checking Offers More Value Than Employment Verification

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Employment Verification & Reference Checking are Key for Workplace Trust

Trust and transparency are essential for any healthy workplace. In order to build a team that enables both, you need to understand your employees from the very beginning of your relationship - during recruitment. Given the massive changes seen in organisations around the world due to lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you also need to be sure that you can build a picture of your new hires, without meeting them in person.

The best way to do that is to verify who they say they are and that they have the experience they say they have. This can be done effectively by combining two important practices: employment verification and reference checks.

Don't be fooled, there is a difference between these two regularly interchangeable terms. And a great recruitment process may include both but we'd recommend you always do at least your reference checks - here's why.

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What is a Reference Check?

A reference check is a valuable opportunity to learn about your candidate from the perspective of their previous manager or colleagues. By using a questionnaire that includes the right mix of questions, a reference can build a picture of your candidate's previous professional performance. It is the only stage in the recruitment process which leverages the opinions of someone other than the candidate.

This insight can help you gain a deeper understanding of who the candidate really is and how they applied or learnt the skills they have. A good reference check seeks to capture insights about the candidate’s reliability, communication, ability to collaborate and how they work as part of a team among other aspects, depending on the role. Learning this information can be helpful for a manager to understand how this person will fit into their team and if they have what it takes to succeed in the role and manage the tasks that will be required of them.

Image on reference checking text with branding

There are many different points that can be gathered from a reference check, to validate what the candidate has shared during their interviews. Here are some important ones to get started with:

  • What key skills did they demonstrate in their role? 
  • What projects did they work on or lead?
  • What are their key strengths and areas for improvement? 
  • How do they work with other team members? 
  • What still of management do they respond to best? 
  • What soft skills do they offer?

What is Employment Verification?

Employment verification is a chance to simply confirm the employment information provided by the candidate. Usually an employment verification would be used to cross reference details that could be found on a resume such as job titles, time with a company and qualifications.

Image on employment verification text with branding

There are many points that can be verified to make sure a candidate has provided truthful information, including:

  • That they have working rights in the country 
  • That the job titles they have shared are accurate
  • That their employment dates are correct
  • That they have worked for the companies they claimed to have worked for
  • They they have the qualifications listed on their resume

Why do Some Organisations Only Offer Employment Verification? 

Often, due to the presumed time constraints of a reference check, as well as the fear that something could be misinterpreted and legal action could ensue, organisations will only agree to provide an employment verification for ex-employees.

However, this will leave the prospective employer with very little information on which to base their final hiring decision.

To tackle this, we must be able to offer a reference checking process that is simple, secure and convenient for everyone involved. Online reference checking removes the "phone tag" that often causes hiring delays, it ensures only compliant and fair questions are asked and it provides the prospective employer with verbatim feedback that cannot be misinterpreted.

Why Should Organisations Verify and Reference Check their Candidates? 

It is easy to imagine why someone might want to lie about their work history to get a step up on the competition. However, it can have massive repercussions, especially when it comes to hiring executive management who could do a lot of damage if they do not have the skills or experience needed to support the organisation.

 Knowing that the person that you are hiring has the skills and competencies that they claim to have allows you to make more informed decisions about how the candidate will proceed in the role. Knowing important factors about prior work experience can also help managers prepare for managing this person in their team while playing to their strengths. It also builds trust which can be especially important when the new employee will be trained to handle sensitive company information or work in situations that require little or no supervision.

Now that COVID-19 has changed the way we hire, many companies are embracing remote hiring practices which is another important reason to verify the identity of the person and that they actually do have a right to be working in the country. 


Is Reference Checking Important for Every Role?

From blue collar staff to executive hires, reference checking and verification is important for all roles for many reasons.

It is important to consider what you’re hoping to learn at this stage of the recruitment process and tailor your questions to match the role or level. In this way, referencing is a great way to get feedback and perspective for any role at any level. You might also like to consider what kind of references you collect. For example, for a managerial role you might like to also ask for a reference from someone that person has managed in the past. You then can find out if that employee felt supported and motivated by that person as their direct report. 

We have put together a great resource with everything you need to know about hiring for a range of different roles using online referencing. Download your free copy here.

Tailor your questions to match the role or level

A Simpler way to Verify Candidates 

There are many methods that employers can use to verify candidates including more manual methods such as calling previous employers individually or sending them an employment verification letter. However, times are changing and more options are available than ever before! 

The simplest, most time efficient way to gather all this important information about a candidate is to conduct online reference checks

Online reference checking offers an easy and time efficient method of collecting references that gather basic verification along with an in depth look at the candidate through the eyes of their previous employers. The answers provided are not just notes or a rough summary of the referee’s thoughts but a detailed description written in the words of the referee themselves. 

With the advancement of HR tech and the tools and resources that are readily available, you are able to step away from the manual, more standardised way of verifying and referencing and create streamlined, tailored and effective referencing processes with role specific questions by using a template builder. You can also save yourself and your teams precious and valuable time in the process! 

To find out how your teams can benefit from the time saved through online reference checking contact us to book a free demo.

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