For Your Reference

     Print Edition: September 2011

Ashish has cleared the job interview and the HR has promised an offer letter. Deepa has accepted her offer letter and is joining on Monday. Jaya has already joined and has made a good impression in the first few weeks on the job. The company is doing well. Celebration time for all three? Not yet.

Most companies are unwilling to hand over their business and their reputation to a stranger who they have known for just a few hours. That stranger is YOU who has successfully completed the selection process. It's time for reference check before the job is yours!

Remember the employee data form? The signed statement from you authorising your employer and its representatives to verify the data provided by you and take necessary action in case of discrepancies.

As investigated by Quetzal Verify, a professional background screening firm, approximately 40% of all resumes are falsified in some fashion. Thus, it is not surprising that your firm has an employee background screening process in place.

EXPERT TIP:How to write your resume

The HR department might verify the information telephonically or may employ a professional background screening firm to check the information you have provided. Often the starting point is the reference contacts that you have provided. Reason enough to select a reference giver (referee) with care.

The referee can be not just your ex-supervisor, HR or colleague but also a client, vendor, professional contact, mentor or even a social acquaintance. When you decide a referee, speak to her and seek permission before sharing contact details with a prospective employer. It is acceptable and professional to discuss a potential reference check with the referee. Start with sharing the position that you are applying for.

In case of a general reference, confirm if it is acceptable to share the referees name on the CV. Confirm with your referee the time slots that would be convenient for taking a 15-20 minute call and mention the same along with her contact details where asked. You may opt for a written reference where the referee is willing to commit the time (See In Writing).

Next discuss the details of your present (and past) jobs that the referee may be expected to know about. Basic information would include the period of employment, designation, remuneration, reason for leaving and broad job profile. Help your referee refresh her awareness of the performance criteria associated with your past positions and your contributions, work skills and achievements at work.

Additional questions during the reference check would relate to your interpersonal skills - relationships with people at work, team dynamics and behavior under stress. It is a good time to understand what your referee thinks about your training needs and areas of improvement. Has the referee ever counseled you? What was the outcome?

Finally, what is the referees opinion of your potential, her overall recommendation, and would she ever hire/re-hire you in the future? Based on discussions with the potential referees, decide which ones would be the most beneficial from the perspective of the new employer.

The screening does not end here. In addition to a reference check, your employer is likely to conduct a basic employment check too. The HR and/or supervisors from your past firms will be spoken to in order to verify the basic details of your position there.

It is critical here for your past employers to confirm the data that you have shared about your reason for leaving, job profile, salary and tenure of employment. Be careful about the information you put on your CV as well as the employee data form you fill. If you understood your role to be that of an Assistant Manager whereas the official designation was Team Leader  then the latter is the one that your former employer will verify as correct.

Similarly even a 10% discrepancy in CTC will turn up a negative verification. So, mention your gross CTC or take home salary or fixed CTC (minus variables) exactly.

Apart from your past employment record, your marksheets will be verified from the universities and education boards (not your school and colleges). A person is likely to visit the address that you have shared and confirm details about you from neighbours.

In case you have newly moved in, visit the strangers next door and let them and your building security guards know that they can expect a verification visit. Screening often includes a police check, as well as a check of judicial and media archives for criminal cases and adverse media reports.

It is vital that the data that you share in your resume or interviews are confirmed by your referees, especially your ex-employers. If you have stated that you left to pursue better opportunities and your ex-employer states you were absconding and thus terminated, you will not get the new job.

A discrepancy in the information you have shared can get you a pink slip even if you have been working in the firm for years. If you have reason to believe that you are likely to get a negative reference check from any source or if there will be a discrepancy in your ex-employers version of your performance  share your concerns directly with the potential employer.

Employers are often willing to discuss negative results if you are perceived to have made an effort to be upfront with information. Here the company will find it easier to hire you than if it had found a discrepancy on its own. Happy referencing!

The writer is CEO, Quetzal Verify, an HR solutions company run by IIM-Ahmedabad alumni.

Youtube
  • Print

  • COMMENT
A    A   A
close