"We now collect consistent and insightful references, quickly"
Unlike the paper-based files we previously relied on, we now know that we have the data and an audit trail of all reference checks we carry out if required. Laura Sargent, Head of Recruitment at Sue Ryder
Results by the numbers
It takes, on average, just 26 hours to turnaround references
44% of references are completed outside traditional business hours
Between 500 and 750 candidates are referenced annually
The Xref solution
Industry: End of life care, non-for-profit
Size (number of employees): More than 3,000 staff and 12,000 volunteers
Xref customer since: January 2016
What drove you to switch from manual to automated reference checks?
Often our stores will urgently require new staff. If a candidate has a good CV, does well in the interview process and has been made an offer, the hiring manager will be keen to get them through the door as soon as possible and avoid losing them.
Reference checks typically come at the end of the process and are the responsibility of the recruitment team, after an offer has been made by the hiring manager.
Having to turn them around quickly enough to meet the requirements of the store and the urgency of the hiring manager meant that the recruitment team were under constant pressure to ensure references were returned before start date, which required constant referee chasing.
What was your brief for Xref?
With a small team responsible for recruitment across our Retail, Healthcare and Business Services, we found it was becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that all reference checks were being completed to a consistent standard.
Reference checking is a critical stage of the recruitment process and can be onerous when done using a traditional email/paper-based approach. We needed Xref to enable us to request and receive references quickly and accurately
What has been the outcome of using Xref?
One of the key benefits we’ve seen since introducing Xref is an improvement in the quality of information we are able to gather, and an increase in the level of uptake compared to what we’d previously been able to achieve with traditional reference checking methods.
We have regular meetings with the team at Xref and feel very comfortable sharing our feedback, as well as the feedback we receive from new recruits, about the platform. Not only are they always open to receiving feedback, we also know that they listen to it and do what they can to implement changes to the system to make it more suitable for our use.
The system is also very straight-forward to use and easy to manage. Unlike the paper-based files we previously relied on, we now know that we have the data and an audit trail of all reference checks we carry out, if required. Given the sensitivities of the healthcare side of our business, this audit trail assured us that it could be a viable recruitment tool for that side of the organisation, as well as the retail side, in the future.
Given the nature of the low-wage, high-turnover roles we are typically filling in the retail stores, we will often take on candidates who have been out of work. This opens us up to the risk of illegitimate references, given that candidates will often have few people to put forward.
Xref enables us to communicate the importance of providing the details of legitimate referees, with candidates. We are able to include communication at the beginning of the process, advising candidates that, if they have previously worked for 12 months or more, they must provide the details of legitimate professional referees.
As well as enabling us to communicate with candidates, this provides the correct impression about how seriously we take the process. Previously, we would share paper templates to be completed and sent back. The online, automated nature of Xref improves the professional appearance of our organisation to potential recruits.
Our recruitment team is now able to offer a much more consultative service. We can spend more time developing adverts at the beginning of the recruitment process, ensuring that the language is right and the adverts speak to the right people. We can research other methods of advertising roles, rather than going with the quickest and simplest option available. And we can be more engaged in the recruitment process, assisting the hiring managers, rather than just bookending the process for them.
The organisation now expects a higher level of service from the recruitment team. We would undoubtedly have to increase the headcount of our team if the reference checking process was brought back in-house, thus requiring valuable funds to be spent on a new hire.
Xref is both efficient and cost effective for us as an organisation.