When Should I Check References?

Dear Barb:

When do you think references should be checked? I don’t see the need to do them until I have a pending offer, but my manager is pressing us to conduct them much sooner. I would be interested in your take on this topic and plan to share your advice with my manager.

Howard S., Grand Rapids, MI

Dear Howard:

I think it’s wise to check references, the minute you know this is a candidate you can place. At the latest, begin checking references the minute you present an opportunity to one of your candidates.

Let me explain why:

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  1. References will help you sell your candidate to your clients, especially if they are initially being screened out.
  2. You confirm the information you believe to be true.
  3. It’s better to be proactive than to have an offer pending on references not completed.

Rookies should check references on their best candidates to help sell them to their fellow recruiters.

Checking references is the best passive way to make marketing presentations. You are usually speaking with a decision-maker, and after checking a reference it is very easy to ask how they attract top talent.

One last tip, you should stay in touch with every person who provides you with a reference check. They could be a future candidate, client or referral source.

Barbara J. Bruno, CPC, CTS

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income.

Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb's cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don?t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business.

If you'd like to contact Barb, call (219) 663-9609 or email support@staffingandrecruiting.com.

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1 Comment on “When Should I Check References?

  1. i think the bigger issue here is that Howard is second guessing his manager, if you dont believe in him/her theres a bigger problem………..just say’en

  2. Check references early? seriously? that’s the last thing you want to do if your candidate is a rock star. If your candidate is REALLY good, then everyone wants to hire him or her, including that reference. It’s hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube and once one person knows your candidate is looking, then everyone knows. If you work in the temp staffing business placing admin temps, food service staff, or light industrial people like forklift drivers, then yes, that’s appropriate advice, but absolutely not for professionals or mid-level to senior-level people. This advice will cause you to lose placements. If you don’t believe me, then try it and see what happens. The first time you have a reference hire your candidate out from underneath you, you’ll be convinced. The appropriate time to check a reference (mid to senior level people) is once both sides are committed to a dialogue that could result in a placement. If you have to start checking them early, then check one reference who is not a hiring manager with a competitor, such as a vendor or a former colleague. And anytime you check a reference, have them give you their word that they will keep it in the strictest of confidence. That doesn’t always work, but you have to do something to protect your candidate and your deal.

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