With the ever growing competitive nature of recruitment, the tiniest details can make a big difference. With a lot of current practices arguably becoming more and more out dated to the modern candidate, we look to address another potentially outdated practice; do we need to include references on CV's?
This is not a new argument, in fact is has been debated for some time whether the inclusion of references are needed at the initial application stage for a position.
What is the purpose of a reference?
Well, there are in fact three different types of reference, each similar but with a slightly approach and purpose.
This purpose is to confirm that you actually worked at the company in the position that you are claiming, when you claimed to work there. People do fake their CVs and this can weed out some of the fakes.
The purpose of this is to find a peer or supervisor that you have worked with that will comment on the quality of your work, and your work ethic. In a professional setting this is the reference that usually means the most.
This is someone who knows you that is willing to vouch for you. The idea is that if someone is going to vouch for you; they are willing to have you work with them. Ideally this type of reference should be someone that the reviewer knows and respects.
We like to say 'it is what you know not who you know' but the reality is that most cases this is false. If you know the right person you have an edge, in many cases, over someone of similar or even slightly better skill set.
The reason these are important is that your past performance is usually indicative of the type of performance that can be expected in the future. So having good references is important and the more recent the better.
But would a hiring manager need this during the initial screening process…? No, of course not; they would be more interested in a accessing your skill set, qualifications, not necessarily getting your previous employers seal of approval.
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So when do we need references?
Well arguably it's possibly one of the last parts of the application process. References are usually for when you've selected the correct candidate, so in theory this wouldn't be a huge priority at the beginning.
So the question I ask is, if this is something that takes place during the later stages of an application….why do businesses insist on including references on CV's or initial application forms?
What if this is a passive applicant, our highly skilled target market, could they not be put off by the inclusion of their current employer at such an early stage? - Especially if this is a company who try to gather reference material early. Will this application rock the boat for our candidate and after that doesn't even get the job applied for and now, understandably, is in an awkward working situation at their current place of employment. Could this situation not have been handled differently?
By including the need for references later on in the application process, removes any cases where an applicant would be put off applying for a position. Not only will this aid with application numbers, but would spend up the application process for the candidate.
Later on in the application process you could then ask for references, have them entered into the computer directly and utilise an automated reference check as and when the applicant was successful.
Not only would this save time for the candidates, if could save time for your HR department too!