This is the second in the two-part article by Mr. Bennett. The first part, entitled Transform Reference Checking into a Strategic Asset, can be found here.
Here are five ways to transform reference checking into a strategic advantage for your organization:
#1 Speed time-to-fill and increase recruiting efficiencies
With unemployment rates declining across key industries, time-to-fill rates are soaring—hitting an all-time high of 27 working days in early 2015. In key industries like healthcare, it takes an average of 42.8 working days to fill a position; the technology industry is not far behind, averaging 37.5 days.
On the one hand, that’s good news for staffing and recruiting agencies, as more companies turn to you for your expertise. On the other hand, staying competitive means finding any edge you can to work more efficiently and beat those time-to-fill averages.
Online reference checking is one way innovative firms can gain new efficiencies. By automating reference checking—and eliminating time-consuming phone tag—you can increase the number and quality of the references you receive and get the information you need—often in less than 2 business days. That fast turn-around time means you’re more likely to fill a position while your competitors are still waiting for a call back. And because your candidates are more carefully vetted, your hiring managers are less likely to have to perform additional screening—which puts your organization at the top of the list when clients begin to grow their operations.
#2 Be a more strategic business partner
Staffing and recruiting is a relationship-driven business. And to build better relationships with your clients you need to prove the value of your service. Most of your competitors claim they have access to top talent. But the truth is, access to social networks like LinkedIn and other online databases has leveled the playing field. By adopting an automated, online approach that leverages job-specific surveys, you can deliver insights about the candidates you’re placing that other agencies and firms simply don’t have access to and differentiate yourself from the crowd
Scientifically validated online reference assessments use position-specific surveys to solicit information about a candidate’s past performance to help you and your client make hiring decisions based on data-driven insight versus “gut” instinct. Solutions like these provide feedback on the soft skills that make a candidate successful—things like work ethic, professionalism, leadership, attention to safety protocols, or the ability to work in a team environment.
Armed with deep insight about the candidates you’re placing, you can provide your clients with the tools they need to make great hiring decisions. You can pass on information from reference reports to help hiring managers ask more pointed questions during the interview process or even develop onboarding and training plans that address areas a candidate might need to improve on, which will strengthen future performance and help reduce turnover.
#3 Build a talent pipeline
Building a network of active and passive job seekers is critical to keeping ahead of the game, but it’s arguably one of the more difficult aspects of your job. As more companies seek a more proactive approach to recruiting—using networks like LinkedIn to identify the top talent in their industry—staffing and recruiting firms will need to find new ways to provide “just-in-time” services.
One way to do that is to build a database of warm leads. That requires identifying potential candidates, verifying that they’re interested in a change, validating that they’re actually good at what they do, and engaging them consistently and authentically.
Great people tend to know other great people. With automated reference checking tools, you can turn references into future job prospects. You might, for example, invite your references to become members of your talent community—because you already understand their industry, their position, and something about their expectations of direct reports, colleagues, or supervisors, you have a targeted pool of interested candidates.
Even if you don’t formally invite references to join an established talent community, having up-to-the-minute and confirmed contact information and critical job details of those references means you can build a passive database of potential candidates. With a broader network at your fingertips, you can spend less time hunting for candidates with the right skillset and more time building your referral network and making new connections.
#4 Burnish your brand
There’s a truism about brand that’s worth remembering: brand isn’t what you say about yourself, it’s what your clients say about you. Online reference checking can help you get your name in front of potential new clients. After all, chances are the references interacting with your system will need to do some hiring of their own in the future. And by transforming your reference checking process, you’re sending a message that you are a forward-looking company ready to embrace new strategies to get the job done. It’s a message that references—and potential new clients—will hear loud and clear. In a recruiting environment where talent analytics are quickly gaining traction, that can be a game changer.
#5 Champion diversity
Today, organizations can’t afford to speak in a narrow voice to a limited audience. To remain competitive, even local companies are embracing a global perspective. Look for an online reference checking solution that helps you reach beyond language barriers to discover and hire a capable and talented workforce.
And of course gender, age, race, ethnicity, and Americans with Disabilities are all protected classes. Unfortunately, some reference checking strategies can be blunt instruments. Ask for evidence that your reference surveys—whether online or scripted—meet EEOC statutes and guidelines to ensure compliance. In the event of a compliant, you must have evidence that the skills being assessed are related to job success. Surveys unrelated to specific job-related criteria are often targeted in lawsuits.
Reference checking doesn’t have to be a waste of your time. Online and automated reference checking can be the secret weapon you need to differentiate yourself from competitors, speed time-to-fill, and improve client satisfaction.
Photo credit: Flazingo Photos