Reference checking

One of the services we offer here at KHES is reference checking. Reference checking can be a time consuming and difficult process for an employer. The level of information you require will vary depending on the role you are recruiting for, but some of the areas you may want to know about are given below. The most important areas are to confirm are that the candidate was employed when they said they were and that the sickness absence does not indicate problems ahead.

  • Job title
  • Employment history – e.g. roles undertaken
  • Length of employment
  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Salary
  • Capability in current role
  • Any training/qualifications received
  • Sickness absence record
  • Disciplinary record
  • Reasons for leaving
  •  Would you re-employ

Who should I be contacting for a reference?

  • Current employer
  • Previous employers (last 5 years normally)
  • College/university/school
  • Friend/colleague (character reference only)

At what point should references be requested?

Employers must remember that seeking references before you make a formal job offer, can cause problems if their current employer is unaware of their wish to leave. Therefore it is essential to ensure you obtain the candidate’s permission before contacting referees.

What can I expect?

Except in the financial service industries companies are under no obligation to provide a reference and many now adopt a policy of providing very limited information. This is often limited to how long the person was employed by the organisation and role undertaken.   While a glowing reference can seem very impressive it is not always an accurate indication of how the candidate will fit into your organisation and may actually reflect how much they want the person to leave!

Day 7 Last day and no Jaffa Cakes!

Let’s be honest, you don’t have to work somewhere for a long time to start enjoying it or connect with people. I understand the pain of leaving people for a new job role or store as I did it when I was 18 and working at McDonald’s and all I did when I found out was cry. But that was different, I wasn’t expecting that, this I was but it’s still pretty upsetting.

As I walked into the office, it was just me and Kieron, well not for long. He left after about 15 minutes for a meeting and then I was all alone. Ending my last day as a work experience person writing up reference forms and letters as well as completing the CV spread sheet. I’m surprised I wasn’t given scanning! Thought it would be my “goodbye” gift, the one thing I loved the most. Thankfully not.

Although I wasn’t alone, Jonathan turned up and made me a cuppa tea. How lovely of him. But the company didn’t last. After about 30 minutes he left as well. Quiet time again. All I had to keep me company was a bag of Aero orange bubbles. Rather have Jaffa cakes to be honest. Mmmm. I was half way through the remaining CVs when Kieron arrived. Hurrah! I had company again! That lasted about 3minutes as he shot of again. I feel like I’m the geek in the library at mid-night doing work when the odd person pops in says hi then goes again. *sigh* Oh well.

Once I had finished all my work, it was only just gone 1pm. Well that’s what I thought. As I was typing that sentence, I looked around for inspiration and noticed two sheets I completely forgot to do! And guess what…it was scanning! So I was left with my ‘favourite’ task. (Memory of a goldfish sometimes)  Anyway, let’s try that again. I have finally finished all my work which meant it was time to go home. I was lucky to say my goodbyes to Kieron earlier but I’m sure Andy and Jonathan will know when they read this.

My experience at Kieron Hill’s Employment Service has come to an end. It has actually been a very funny, enjoyable learning curve in my decision into full time employment. I have had proof that I love working within the employment industry and have learnt so many skills from the past month especially CV skills, covering letters and the law. Although this will be the last entry of my blog, this will not be the last you have seen of me. Keep your eyes peeled and ears open because one day when you send KHES an email or give them a call, it may be me that responds to you, no promises just hoping.

Thank you to Andy and Jonathan for your witty banter and bizarre yet funny conversations which kept me sane when I was completing brain melting tasks. Thank you to Kieron for the experience and time you have put into me. The skills and training you have given me that have allowed me to understand the employment industry in more detail and has let me experience it first-hand.  And thank you all for following my experience with me. I hope to speak to you all again soon but for now, so long .

Day 6 Revenge of the teacake

Its Thursday so not long now until the weekend starts again. Once I arrived at the office, Kieron was out but for once I was not alone as I still had the company of Andy and Jonathon although I had so much to catch up on, I probably wasn’t the most exciting person to talk to. It was a pretty standard day; scanning, organising files, asking for references and then passing them on to the clients to keep a record but I did have one important task which could affect everyone if not completed correctly and possibly cause mayhem if not accomplished!…well really all it was, was popping to the shops to get milk, but believe me, if you’ve read the previous account you would understand that this enterprise runs on coffee and tea!

My tasks didn’t take very long to complete so I spent most of the time job hunting to see what is expected of me to get into this line of work but to be honest, I was more distracted by Andy and Kieron’s random conversations. One that sticks out was the discussion of man’s favourite food…bacon, but more in this case, what is the correct name for a bacon sandwich. I’ve heard this bread naming debate from the moment I moved up north. Its seems to be a culture shock to anyone down south, only calling it a butty or sandwich but up north, they have loads of options. It a conversation I am involved in all the time from people at university and home arguing over it. While me and Kieron just sat back and watched, Andy went on a little rant about all the different names he had heard and what he believed was the correct one. We went from sandwiches, rolls, bap, butty and one I never hear anyone refer it as, a baguette. It reminded me of the time I got into a debate with someone about a ‘teacake,’ me saying it was  bread with fruit in, someone else saying it was just a roll etc…the many hours wasted talking about bread yet no philosopher has come to the conclusion therefore we must suffer in silence.

Overall, today was a very simple, easy day with little activity on my behalf although the banter of the office and relaxed environment has made me settle into the working life of an office worker and I like it.

That Monday Morning feeling, Work experience starts to lose its appeal

Monday, the most painful word in the English language. Just hearing it makes me want to fall asleep but nevertheless, I attended work and as soon as I arrived…I had absolutely nothing to do. The pile of scanning had already been done and the only task I had left was looking at the website to see how it could be improved. Before I did this, I met Kieron’s accountant and listened to the conversation between them about the company’s finances. I will admit, I did drift in and out, I’ve never been able to concentrate on numbers or sums for very long without noticing something more interesting and today’s distraction was Andy’s plant.  No idea what kind of plant it is, looks Japanese.

Anyway, once the accounts had been looked at and discussed, I was set the task of finding Keywords commonly used associated with HR that can attract people to the website. After getting to grips with Google Ad words, I search a number of words related to the main features of the business. To do this I looked at the website to find the main points as well as reading contracts and handbooks to pick out the main features. It was an easy task and a lot more interesting than scanning all day. I sent the document over to Kieron and then sent back a reference response to a client. Since Kieron was out all I could do now was wait.

Another short day, but I rather get everything done and go rather than sit around and watch paint dry. I’m glad I had a day without having to scan thousands of sheets of paper, needed a little break from the printer and I think the printer might agree. Time to rest before I’m back in on Thursday for another day as a work experience personnel in HR.

(Note From Kieron “The printer has now withdrawn its transfer request”)

Work experience Day 2

My second day started off in the same enthusiastic manner as my first day and surprisingly I was awake for once, well after about three cups of coffee. My first activity was to produce a document about the new laws coming in March and April to send to clients to make themselves aware of the changes and prepare themselves for what will soon be expected of them. Once I sent it over to be approved, my nerves kicked in and I just stared while it was being read. I felt like a child presenting a macaroni picture of an owl to their parents waiting for a round of applause. Childish I know, but I was given the thumbs up of approval. Thank god.

Afterwards, I filled in several letters for a client’s new recruits to congratulate them on successfully getting a job, their starting dates as well as asking for them to produce references on arrival. It went well, until I forget to put some of their names on the address, forcing me to start again. Once I sorted myself out, I adjusted a contract for a client. It wasn’t a difficult task as I first expected it to be therefore I was able to complete this exercise very quickly and successfully and therefore sent it back. All I had to do was wait.

My final task for the day included arranging all the documents on Share Point, allowing easier access to specific files. This was a task I wasn’t looking forward to do but once I started I understood the benefit of having these files organised. It was a brain dead task, making me slowly fall asleep. After nearly 2 painful hours and my brain gradually turning into mush, I had finally organised all the documents into their own file. At last! After an hour of making up strange scenarios in my head, Kieron returned to the office where I presented him my work. He was impressed. Thank god, No way did I want to do that all again!

Once the clock struck 5pm it was the end of another day at the office. Generally, it wasn’t too bad. I was pretty chuffed at what I had produced although there were tasks I found myself drifting asleep too but like any business, there will always be the jobs no one wants to do, so why should they waste their time doing it, the work experience person looks bored, give it to them!

The Value of References

Over the years I have regularly witnessed HR departments and managers moaning about the “pointless” process of getting references for new staff, they regularly complain that its an administrative burden and they never get a useful response.

This last month though I’ve had a couple of experiences that have made me think that they may not be all that bad. In one case the references were for a new homecare assistant, both referees were quite neutral about this former employee but both said they would not re-employ him. My client decided to employ him anyway, within two weeks they are dismissing him because he spends all his time trying to appear helpful and as though nothing is too much trouble and then going behind my clients back to wind up his colleagues. So although he didn’t do anything wrong with the people he cared for he could start a fight in an empty room with his colleagues. Its a costly mistake they won’t repeat.

The other reference concerned someone who applied for a job front-of-house in a restaurant. On the surface it was a glowing testimony to the woman’s kindness, character and integrity, but contained a “slight” concern about cash handling!!

I know in some cases the references can be wrong but most business owners I know don’t have the time to get to the bottom of these things and also don’t want to risk the success of my business, by employing someone who could cause me problems.

When I seek references for my clients we get about 60% return on the requests and it is only rarely that they contain anything that would stop us employing our preferred candidate. However when they do contain a negative comment its best not to ignore them..