Rely on References to Find Your Next A-Player

Most hiring managers recognize that references are a good way to check a potential candidate’s background, but what they may not realize is that they are also one of the most practical ways to identify top talent. Why? According to Dr. John Sullivan, an internationally-known HR thought-leader, references are valuable recruiting targets because anyone who is given as a reference is typically more experienced than the potential candidate.

And, with the age of social media, finding these references has become easier than ever. Often, all it takes is a quick Google search on the web or some looking around on LinkedIn. 

“As a result, smart recruiting leaders and recruiters should re-examine references as one of the most underused, but cost-effective areas for identifying top talent,” Dr. Sullivan says.

Start a reference-checking revolution

So, where do you begin? Here are five tips to get you started on candidate sourcing from reference checking. Build a pipeline and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in sources:  

1. Dive in to LinkedIn. Most recruiters already use LinkedIn, but do they pay attention to endorsements, references and recommendations on individual profiles? Consider all of those people recruiting targets.

2. Start with the cream of the crop. Once a new hire has proven to be a good hire, you can be pretty sure that their references were credible. Don’t let this opportunity slip through your fingers. Contact the references of the best new hires with a goal of getting one or two referrals. Soon, the snowball effect will kick in because each good hire usually has a few references. Ultimately, you may be able to get a solid three to five referrals. And, make sure you thank your initial reference and tell them how on target they were with your current hire.

3. Target references. Don’t be surprised if you call a reference and he or she shows interest in the job. Statistics show that about one third of the job pool is in constant flux.

4. Turn references into sales people. Communicate your firm’s mission and culture to references. This may increase the likelihood that a reference will talk your firm up, and possibly even recommend you to others.

5. Build that database. It’s not necessary to only keep names of references from your best hires. Hold onto names from mediocre hires as well and also ask for references early on in the hiring process. Why? Because if a top candidate drops out, you still have a reference for future follow up.

The reference checking process can indirectly provide you with multiple opportunities for name gathering, referrals, and selling the candidate. Make sure you don’t lose out.  

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