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Ref! Ref! Ref!

By March 7, 2019No Comments

No, this isn’t going to be a blog that brings to light the officiating of a particular Champions League tie that allowed a once doomed team from the North West of England to prolong the inevitable. The ref I’m ‘referring’ to is reference. A crucial component of what we do as recruiters and an aspect that in recent time has experienced the sweet touch of innovation. Firstly though, I want to talk about the ‘why?’ because exploring the reason why leads nicely into the ‘how?’


Why do we take references? Is it for compliance, is it to check the person is telling the truth, is it an opportunity to develop business or a blueprint of how to manage as oppose to the deciding factor? To me, it seems like the prison system; no one really knows if cons are there to be punished, to be separated from the herd, or to be rehabilitated? But we all continue with it as a system we are comfortable with and ultimately serves some sort of purpose.

We’ve all heard about horror stories when it comes to people falsifying records and providing false references. Zholia Alemi had a 22-year career in the UK with the NHS providing care and support for Britain’s most vulnerable, without a single medical qualification! Back in 2002, John Davy was sent to prison for fraud once it was found out he lied about qualifications on the resume he supplied with to work for MTS. Even specifically in our little market, we hear tales of recruitment consultants with more than embellished CV’s.

On the other side of the deceptive coin, there are also instances of recruitment consultants themselves falsifying references in order to get a deal over the line. An act that is so short-sighted and motivated by greed it essentially prioritizes a fee over one’s own integrity and reputation. As humans we’re cursed with an eternal internal struggle; good vs bad, right vs wrong. We come to a fork in the road of honesty and it’s either the left shoulder or the right shoulder that gets listened to, throw a financial incentive in the mix and you can see how the little red guy wins out.


But! What if we take the human component out the mix? I had the chance to meet Laura Bolton of Xref this week who has an interesting proposition, not just for the recruitment industry but anyone who is in need of verification. They offer an automated referencing service which plugs into a CRM, the referee’s details are populated by the candidate and a reference form is sent out. Interested in the validity of the service I asked what safeguards are in place to make sure the human condition to lie and deceive are all but eliminated? There are a number of ways but most effective is an IP tracker which can see through crude VPN’s ensuring the address of the candidate and referee are not one and the same.

There is only a certain number of AI seminars I can sit through without feeling personally attacked at the idea that a jumped-up toaster will be doing my job in a couple of years but as a recruiter myself, I welcome this type of innovation. Anything that a) makes my life easier and b) minimizes the potential for ambiguity is a good thing not just for us but our industry. I’m not running out to join the Skynet softball team but surely, we should view these advancements in technology in terms of Rosie from the Jetsons as appose to The Terminator.