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Recruitment Reference Checks: Tips for Professional Recruiters

by | Dec 7, 2021 | Placement Process

The topic of recruitment reference checks is a deep and wide one for multiple reasons. First, there are many different people who check references. It could be a hiring manager. It could be a Human Resources professional. It could be a corporate recruiter. Or it could be a professional recruiter or search consultant.

In case you haven’t guessed, this blog post will deal with the last category, professional recruiters and search consultants.

In addition, recruitment reference checks can happen at varying points in the hiring process. They can happen after the phone screen and before the face-to-face interview. They can happen after the interview. They can even happen after an offer of employment has been made. So, as you can see, there are many variables involved in the world of recruitment reference checks. As a result, it’s relatively easy to become confused regarding tips and best practices.

Reasons for recruitment reference checks early in the process

With all of this in mind, we’re going to narrow things down a bit. As mentioned above, although many people can (and do) conduct reference checks, we’re going to address professional recruiters and search consultants. And in the interest of doing so, we’re going to draw upon the experience and expertise of recruiting and staffing trainer Barb Bruno, CPC/CTS of Good as Gold Training and Development.

Barb believes that professional recruiters should conduct reference checks early in the placement process. There are five main reasons for this:

  1. Your reputation rests with every candidate that you present to clients, so it makes sense to ensure that a candidate does not tarnish your reputation.
  2. You can prevent unwanted surprises and save time you would have otherwise wasted on an unqualified job candidate.
  3. References are a glance into a candidate’s past and a window into their future. People are creatures of habit, which means that past performance is an indicator of future success—or lack thereof.
  4. If a hiring authority is “on the fence” about one of your candidates, a good reference can help convince them to book the candidate. (After all, booking candidates is a priority!)
  5. Offers are often delays until recruitment reference checks are finished, so taking care of reference checks early in the process removes that obstacle.

“When you have information from a reference, it’s a good idea to share this with your hiring authorities,” said Barb. “You can present facts from someone who has supervised this person. People prefer to buy on the approval of others.”

Types of reference checks in recruitment

As just about everybody knows, there are two types of reference checks in recruitment: the personal reference and the professional reference. According to Barb, professional recruiters should check a personal reference, preferably the individual’s best friend.

“This person will share the real reason your candidate is not happy with their current situation at work,” she said. “Who knows more about a person than their best friend?”

Recruiters need to find out two pieces of crucial information during this personal reference check with the best friend. The first piece is whether or not the friend agrees that a career change for the candidate is a good decision.

“In many instances, their best friend is the person who has been hearing about their problems at work,” said Barb. “Often you can include this person when you are attempting to close your candidate.”

Second, the best friend can also provide insight into what type of decision maker you are representing and how they will react to change.

“The best part of a personal reference check is there is no filter,” said Barb. “Best friends don’t know what they should and should not say. So they give you honest and straightforward answers.”

When it comes to the professional reference, Barb recommends calling the company and asking to be transferred to the person who handles hiring. That way, you can be transferred as an internal call and you can use the name of the person who transferred your call to “break the ice.”

Acquiring new candidates and clients with reference checks

According to Barb, a search consultant should have multiple goals when conducting reference checks. Namely, you are creating an opportunity to acquire new clients and represent new job candidates.

In fact, there are five reasons why recruitment reference checks can help search consultants land new clients:

  1. You have established initial rapport when you’re obtaining the information.
  2. This is a non-threatening type of call that doesn’t appear to be a cold sales call.
  3. You have shared inside information, which was complimentary, so the conversation is positive.
  4. During your presentation, you have proven that you want their business and you are professional and knowledgeable.
  5. This is an informed call, which can provide you with a higher level of return.

“In recruiting, we normally place one level up and one level down in our areas of specialization,” said Barb. “The person you are talking to could be your next placement. If you don’t land the company as a new client, think of this person as a prospective candidate.”

Barb recommends being creative, showing your personality, and realizing that you have multiple goals when you’re conducting recruitment reference checks.

“You also need to ask permission to add this individual to your database so they can receive workforce and workplace information that you send to your clients,” said Barb. “Most individuals will not turn down free information, and now you are not losing contact with this decision maker.”

Recruitment reference checks aren’t just about checking references. When done correctly, they can help you to establish new relationships that can impact your income and help grow your business!

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Barb Bruno is one of the most respected trainers and speakers in the recruiting and staffing industry. She is known for her methodical, easy-to-implement strategies and her contagious enthusiasm, but what recruiters love about her most is that she gets results. Her techniques have guided thousands of recruiters and search consultants to a higher level of sales and profits. For more information about Barb and the services that she offers, visit the Good as Gold Training website.

And don’t forget to check out Barb’s latest book, High-Tech, High-Touch Recruiting!

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