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References — one of the best metrics to truly know a potential candidate

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

While searching for a job opportunity, a candidate, is in effect, a salesman trying to market his profile to a prospective buyer — companies. It is the same for companies as well. They are selling the team, the company culture, and the organization to the buyer — the candidate.

This is a unique scenario where both the buyer and the seller are selling as well as buying. This is the exact reason why it is one of the most complex marketplaces out there. Getting a perfect fit for both the candidate and the companies is tough.

There are reasonable solutions which can solve one or the other aspect of the entire hiring process, but there is no one complete solution out there.

Usually, in any other market, there is a defined buyer, and a seller, and these positions are fixed. Amazon is selling products, and we are the buyers. The arrangement doesn’t change. The competition is between different sellers on the platform and not between different buyers.

In an employment marketplace, the candidates are competing against different candidates for a position, and the companies are competing against different companies to get the desired candidate on-board.

The only differentiator either party has is the information they use to market themselves.

The candidate could go online and look at the Glassdoor reviews of a company, talk to different employees already working there, and look at the public presence of the company through various social channels.

The companies could, again, go online and look at the candidate career profiles, social profiles, resume, and get references from previous employers.

The more data either party has of the other, the better solution (employee-employer-fit) could be reached.

Many have tried to provide optimal hiring solutions but no one has solved the problem!

LinkedIn has tried, successfully to an extent, to get quality profiles online. But they have failed to make sure that the experiences and the references showcased on the profiles are accurate and trustable. The quality we see on LinkedIn is mostly a derivative of self-regulated information put up by professionals.

Such is the case with most online career profiles. The authenticity of the information on the profile is questionable.

The experiences could be faked, the degrees could be faked, and the skills could be faked. This leaves a real dent in the algorithms most platforms use for sorting candidates. The only way left to ascertain any information is to verify it.

Photo by Christophe Hautier on Unsplash

The most critical and undervalued data point we could have in the equation is References.

The value of a teammate attesting to how it was to work with a potential candidate weighs in way more than any information found online. The time spent together with the candidate working on projects could provide insights into how they work.

There is, of course, the human element involved in the references provided. These often have a flavor to it depending on the relationship between the candidate and the teammate. It could have hints of appreciation, love, jealousy, anger, or indifference. In short, it could be biased.

But it is part of the equation. If we consider a recruiter, in an interview, is also a human who is trying to understand the candidate. The references work way better in portraying a close-to-the-real picture as it is based on a longer timeframe of working together. It cannot be an exact picture, but the best we could have.

So what is the best way to get references and verify it?

Getting references checked is a tricky business. The very fact that we are dealing with humans here makes the process tough.

We could use any one of the following methods to get references:

  1. Have someone talk to the previous teammate and understand the strengths and shortcomings of the prospective candidate. This is the most preferred and advisable because of the instant responses we could get over a call.
  2. Have a digital version of the above process through forms or links which have a questionnaire to be answered. This is the next option which can be used. The inquiry could go in-depth of different aspects of the candidate’s tenure in the previous organization but lacks the instant nature of the phone calls.
  3. Have reference letters furnished at the time of interview. This is no different from the information and endorsements which are available online anyway. So this is the least preferred.

The ideal solution needs to be a mix of all of these. Have a person call all the references provided by the candidate and talk about the viewpoints presented in the reference letters or forms. The conversation needs to revolve around skills and how the experience was for the teammate.

We, at SpringRole, are envisioning a space in the future where we could have a solution to this complex problem. We want to bring in technology to build these, including the reference checks, to make hiring and getting hired a seamless and enjoyable process.


About SpringRole

SpringRole is enabling everyone’s #VerifiedProfessionalProfile on the Blockchain. It is a decentralized attestation-based professional network platform powered by the blockchain.

SpringRole is the platform where people can view, share, and get attestations on their professional profile, thereby creating a verified resume that they can share and use. The organizations themselves verify a user’s educational qualifications and work experience, which is written directly to the blockchain. To assess a user’s skill set, SpringRole has a system of weighted endorsements that let users objectively look at people’s profiles and evaluate their skill level.

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