Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't let the sting be in the tail...

There are very few things that are as unpleasant as having an excited candidate about a job, a pleased future employer and then…a negative reference check…

I don’t do reference checks by default but for some of my clients, it is part of any hiring process. Although candidates may assume the contrary, this is not a simple courtesy call.

A reference check mainly wants to ensure that a prospective employee is who he or she claims to be and is capable of doing the job. Traditionally, it is done for the last one or two candidates. If you have gotten to this stage, you are close to landing the job. To make sure that the sting is not in the tail, here are a few tips.

It all starts by choosing the right references.
Choose people who will paint an honest representation of who you are as a person and as an employee. I will be looking for your roles and responsibilities, your key achievements, your strengths and your weaknesses. Make sure that the people who provide you with references can talk in detail about all of these aspects, not because they like you as a person but because they have worked with you for a significant amount of time. They don’t have to picture you as being the perfect employee, no one is, but the majority of what they tell me should make you attractive for your employer-to-be.

Once you have identified these people, make sure that you reach out to them before sending me their details.
It does not exactly ooze professionalism when the person on the other end of the line wonders why I could be calling them. Or worse, does not remember ever working together with you.
Of course you can merely send an e-mail to inform them but a quick phone-call will significantly increase the impact. It allows you to explain the role you are applying for, the challenges this will bring and the strengths and characteristics you would like to highlight. They will be able to better prepare what they are going to say and their reference will have a lot more value for your future employer.
Ask them for appropriate timeslots during which they will be available. Pro-activeness is a quality I highly value…
Also, and this is too often forgotten, provide feedback to them on what the outcome was and thank them for their time…you may need a glowing reference next time around.

Certain situations may present as challenges as far as a good references goes: you may have had a bad relationship with a previous boss or you may have separated in bad terms from a previous employer. Better than trying to hide it, be up front about it. Being open from the start won’t harm you, on the contrary, it will give you the advantage that you will be able to picture the circumstances, what you have learned from it and how you would do things differently. Counterbalance potentially bad references with positive references on the qualities that are crucial for your future role.

I can’t provide you with a recipe for perfection but these tips should allow you to get the sting out of the tail. Should you need some more detailed advice, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Through a personalized and tailor-made approach, Ingenium Executive Search aspires to assist you in attracting the right talent that matches the DNA of your company

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