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Derek Smith, GM, Xref Canada: “Seriously, stop referencing like it’s 1970!"

Derek Smith Xref Blog

Tim Cook once grilled me about the number of Bluetooth keyboards we, at Apple Canada, had sold over the course of one week. Seems like a minor detail for the CEO of a major multinational to be worrying about, doesn’t it?

It just happens to represent one of the key learnings I took from my role with the company and will be bringing into my new position with Xref. No detail of the business is too small to be worth your time.

While my recent appointment as General Manager of Xref Canada marks an exciting move for me, it is also an important milestone for Xref itself.

The perfect opportunity

The American and Canadian markets represent a hotbed of opportunity for a nimble and innovative company like Xref, and the appointment of a senior figure in the region demonstrates a recognition for the growth opportunity it holds.

If my time in the HR industry to date has taught me one thing, it’s that it is certainly ripe for disruption.

Too many professionals have been doing references the same way for years. Today, the smartphone is the tool of choice for getting things done on the move. So, seriously, stop referencing like it’s 1970!

When was the last time you used the fax machine? Do millennials know what that is? Nothing that was true of the market in the 70s remains true now:

  1. Candidates are not at the mercy of employers, they choose where they want to work

  2. ...and they’re not willing to wait, they want a quick decision or they’ll be off to a competitor

  3. We’re not all sitting in the same chair every day, waiting for the desk phone to ring

  4. Our processes work together (or, at least, they should) rather than in silos

  5. And candidate and employee details are not recorded in handwritten notes but stored as data, securely (because, let’s be honest, the old locked filing cabinet wasn’t exactly bulletproof)

I could go on but the point is that the industry has changed significantly in even the last 10 years, let alone the last 50, so how can the use of the same processes be justified?

Leveraging lessons learned

Ultimately, this was the crux of my decision to join Xref. My intrigue and excitement about a company that could solve such a human challenge with technology, got the better of me. It just so happens that it’s also made up of some great people with a unrivalled drive and passion to succeed.

And, despite the obvious differences, there are some similarities between this company and my previous employers, lessons from which I will be leveraging as I settle into the Xref journey.

While the super smart technology that sits behind the platform reminds me of the technology driving a seamless experience for HP consumers, the disruptor attitude and drive of the team takes me back to my Apple days. HR roles are changing and the reality is that we are required to do and deliver more every day that we have ever needed to before. Xref frees up that time for HR professionals.

Time to make a change

We’ve reached an exciting tipping point in the HR industry and those that embrace it will reap the rewards. I’m looking forward to being part of the possibilities that the growing HR tech scene offers, and helping organizations appreciate and adopt the smart solutions that they need to ensure they are building the best possible teams.


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What is Xref?

Xref is a secure, mobile-friendly reference checking platform that significantly reduces time-to-hire and helps protect against candidate fraud.

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