UPfront: Beware The Over-blown Reference: It Might Explode

Since the John Davy fiasco put very literal bars on use of seriously inflated CVs (at least for him), any reference that glows too brightly is inevitably going to earn closer scrutiny.

A good thing, too, according to Horner & Partners general manager Peter Harbidge.
He reckons it’s timely wake-up call both for agencies and for candidates.

“People are becoming more cautious and that is good for the industry; it encourages greater degree of professionalism.”

With top talent getting harder to find, more organisations are looking to use recruiters and there are an increasing number of them – some 270 in Auckland alone, says Harbidge.

“People like Davy tend to go to less-established agencies because their checking procedures may not be as robust.

This incident has brought the attention of everybody in the industry to bear on the fact there is large risk involved in not doing the job properly.

“It’s also warning to candidates that embellishing CV can be regarded as fraudulent. It’s good lesson all round.”

Taking time to build rapport with referees and to probe for the “chink in the armour” of candidates who seem otherwise suitable is very much part of the process, says Harbidge.
“The faults you find won’t necessarily be deal breakers but they will provide some indications where further training might be useful.”

His hints for risk-free hiring include:
* Checking the referee is genuine – call to company’s HR department or even title check with the receptionist should do the trick;
* Probing referees that are too positive – taking cognisance of privacy and employment laws and keeping copious notes of exchanges and what is “not said”;
* Validating the qualifications – all tertiary institutes have record departments;
* Checking criminal and bankruptcy records – Horners offers Baycorp’s new HireRight service for screening candidates.

The level at which some companies handle reference checks is pretty slack, says Harbidge.

“With more people using recruiters, it is important that service levels are kept consistently high.”

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