William von Achen

Article Summary:

Why it's still important to conduct reference checks on prospective employees.

Reference Checks Are Still Important

Regardless of whether you're using the Internet or more traditionally approaches to recruit new employees, there's still tremendous pressure to move quickly once you've found that talented individual to fill a key position in your company. But don't overlook the importance of conducting a thorough reference check in your rush to land that great future employee.

It's true that liability concerns have reduced many reference checks to a mere confirmation of facts and details already in hand, with many employers wary of inviting legal action for making less than flattering comments about a former employee. And, efforts to check references can also be thwarted in those instances when a candidate's need for confidentiality restricts you from speaking with their current employer.

Nonetheless, many executives listed as employment references are often surprisingly candid in discussing a job candidate's work performance, frequently confirming a concern raised during your own screening or unintentionally revealing other details that shed new light on a candidate's ability to perform. Good references can also provide the names of others that may be better informed about the candidate's actual performance.

And, simple reference checks can quickly unmask those not so rare instances in which a job candidate has exaggerated, or even lied, about his actual credentials. Less than scrupulous job seekers can easily embellish their resume with unearned qualifications, confident that prospective employers won't bother to check references.

It's true that good employees are hard to find. But conducting a pre-employment reference check is still the easiest and best way to ensure that the hot-shot prospect you want to hire is really worth the investment.

Bill von Achen is the president of Strategic Management Resources, a management consulting firm located in Sudbury, MA that helps organizations and their managers prosper through executive coaching and business counsel. Bill works exclusively with business owners and senior company executives on strategic planning, organizational design and management development issues. For more information visit www.smrweb.com

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