This week I have decided to briefly discuss post employment referencing, its drawbacks and how as a candidate you can take advantage of these to rise above the field.
The problems with post employment referencing
In today’s world many employers will not give a bad reference for fear of the repercussions. In fact it is policy within some of the largest companies in the world to only confirm tangible facts such as start and finish dates and attendance during a period of employment. From a recruiters perspective this makes it difficult to use references as a credible source of information to determine the integrity of a CV and an individual’s performance during each period of employment.
In the cases where we are able to obtain a detailed reference relating to a candidates performance we must also question the value of the source. Most candidates will give a name of a contact that they had a good relationship with on the basis that they can trust that individual to say the right thing. If a friend is giving a reference it is unlikely to be an unbiased version of the truth. The use of intelligent questioning in such cases where the referee is not sure of the answer the recruiter is looking for is a strong tactic for extracting more accurate information.
When an individual leaves a job, negative emotions often enter into the equation and distort the employers’ memories of the value that was contributed by the employee. The best run businesses have staff that believe in the mission and buy in to the business as if they are part of a family or tribe. When an individual seeks pastures new and turns their back on the mission they are sometimes discredited in order that the mission remains paramount. This can again distort the accuracy of the reference that can be obtained and place the candidate in an inferior light.
How to gain an advantage
I believe that candidates can collect reference material throughout their time with each employer and that this can be carried out with minimal time investment.
Most companies conduct quarterly or annual performance appraisals. In these meetings an employee’s performance, competency, attitude and training needs are reviewed and documented. You can hold onto any documentation that comes out of these reviews and create a PDF containing a compilation of these documents to pass to future employers. This gives an accurate and unbiased assessment of your performance throughout the employment.
Stakeholder Management is of key importance to most of our clients. It is easy to claim that you have strong stakeholder management skills but somewhat harder to prove. I suggest that you take it upon yourself to create a post project review document and ask your stakeholder to score their satisfaction based upon your communication, expertise, delivery and results. Also offer an opportunity for the stakeholder to offer additional comments. This can be completed over email and emails can be saved and compiled to present to future employers.
Before leaving a job contact HR and ask for a copy of your file. Data protection law gives you the right to have access this information so you should not have a problem obtaining it. If the file is too big or holds information that you would prefer to keep confidential you should ask HR to provide a letter containing details on your attendance and discipline record during the employment. With the other documents that I have already mentioned a confirmation that you had no disciplinary action and a high attendance percentage should serve to complete all of the information any potential employer would seek to know about you.
How you will benefit
Taking the above action will paint an accurate picture of your credibility, reduce the risk of slander and put you in an excellent light with your next employer when they see how well organised you are. It will also buy instant credibility with recruitment agents who you are asking to represent you as they can be confident that you are a high calibre individual. If you encounter any objections from your current employers to my suggestions I would advise you to explain that it is to their benefit that you are keeping continuous accurate records of your performance as it results in you ensuring that your performance is consistently excellent.