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Always ask recruits for a job reference

In today’s competitive job market, where an abundance of people have the right qualifications and background for any given role, an applicant’s references are becoming increasingly important.

Some employers value references highly and use them as a main deciding factor in who they employ. Others believe they should only be used if there is a real danger that a candidate may somehow have lied in the course of their application process.

This has become a problem for most employees as a recent study revealed that the majority of people embellish their CVs.

James Jones, dealer principal at Foursons in Norwich, says: “As a matter of routine we check everyone’s reference before they are employed.

“After we’ve offered them the job, which is always subject to us receiving a satisfactory reference, we ask if they have handed in their notice and then we will ask their previous employer to write us a reference.”

The main purpose of a reference is to obtain information about a candidate’s qualifications, employment history, experience and an assessment of his/her suitability for the job in question. If the candidate’s last job is similar to their new role then they can be exceptionally helpful.

It is standard practice to state that the job is on a provisional basis ‘subject to satisfactory references’.

Jones says: “I’ve let someone who had been working with us for three weeks go because of poor references. In this case, both of their referees refused to give a reference, which was enough to make me wary.”

However, prospective employers must beware. Once an employee starts a job, and if no references have been received, then the requirement to obtain satisfactory references may no longer be a condition of employment; they will have the same rights with regards to wrongful dismissal as any other employee. It is therefore best to ensure satisfactory references are received before letting a new employee begin work.

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