Why reference checks are important in all aspects of life not just recruitment

22 Sep 2021 by Chris Hunter

Everyone knows that the real estate market is on fire at the moment. As a buyer, you’re attending open homes with dozens, sometimes hundreds of other prospective buyers. As a renter, the situation is much the same, and in both cases unfortunately there aren’t many ways to stand out from the pack.

Why reference checks are important in all aspects of life not just recruitment

Not long ago, I moved into an apartment on the Gold Coast and just two months into my lease, the owners decided to sell. Rather than kicking up a stink about facilitating open houses and the constant back and forth with the real estate agent, I politely obliged, knowing that at the end of it, I would get a killer reference for my next rental. 

I did, and it paid off. The real estate agent – who has a stellar reputation in the area – provided a glowing reference, and I was later offered a lease on an equally great apartment, despite hundreds of other applicants. The deciding factor, according to my current landlord, was the excellent reference. 

Reference checks are prevalent in so many aspects of our lives, but whatever the context, the principle is always the same: do the right thing and people will remember.

What does this mean in the context of recruitment? Just like in the real estate game, there are only so many ways for candidates to stand out from the crowd. You might be up against people who have the same or potentially more experience than you, and a great reference might be the only thing to set you apart.

Never underestimate the power of a great reference 

References checks are not just about confirming an applicant's skills or qualifications. They’re about finding out who the candidate really is, what motivates them, what their values are and whether they’d be a good fit for the organisation.

Values and culture fit are highly regarded by employers these days. Often, a candidate’s suitability for a role hinges on their ability to mesh well with the team and uphold the company’s values. You might be the smartest, most qualified person in the talent pool, but if your referee explains to the hiring manager that you don’t work well collaboratively, that could strike your name from the list. 

Give your referee a heads up

It’s important that you maintain a relationship with your referees. If they get a call or email from a recruiter out of the blue, especially if it’s been a few years since you last worked with them, they’re going to find it difficult to provide a quality reference for you. It’s a good idea to get in touch with your referees, tell them a bit about the role you’re going for and let them know to expect a call.

Further to that, make sure your references are recent. If you go too far back, your referee may not be able to recall specific scenarios or details about your employment, and while it might make a great character reference, it won’t tell the recruiter about your ability to perform the job. As a general rule, limit your references to people you’ve worked with within the last five to seven years.

It’s standard practice to supply two references on a job application, however, with Referoo you can put down as many references as you like. In my opinion, the more people you have on call who will vouch for you and back you for a role, the better.

Leave a lasting impression

If you’re leaving a job, regardless of why or under what circumstances, the way you conduct yourself will stay with people. If you slack off for the last couple of weeks or behave unprofessionally, people will remember. The opposite is also true: if you leave a positive impression, you’re much more likely to be able to call on someone from that role as a reference down the track. 

References, whether for a job, a rental property or school application speak to who you are as a person. First impressions may not last, but final ones definitely do, so try not to rub people the wrong way when you move on to greener pastures. You never know what could come back to either bite you or serve you for the better.

Start using Referoo today with a free, full-service 14-day online reference check trial here, or get in touch to discuss your specific needs!