A Job Seekers Guide to Reference Checks
When applying for a new job it’s easy to assume that reference checks are the responsibility of the prospective employer, or the recruitment agency if applicable. But you want that job, right? Then help to secure it for yourself by being savvy when it comes to employment references and associated checks! Reference checks are not incidental to an employer selecting YOU as their new recruit, they are pretty much critical! Read on to find out how neglecting employment references can kill any chance of you getting a new job.
Oh and let us just add up front a major warning – wait until you get an unconditional offer before handing in your notice!
What are reference checks and who can give them?
“Reference checks” are when a prospective employer contacts a candidate’s previous employers, schools, colleges, and other sources to learn more about their employment history, education, and qualifications before committing to employing them.
Employment References are simply your prospective employer verifying your employment history and collecting information that reassures them that you have the experience, skills and/or capabilities and a track record of stick-ability for the job you have applied for. A previous employer – the “referee” will confirm that you actually worked for them and that you did what you said you did in the role, exact start and finish dates and that you were professional, punctual, reliable, got on well with them, your work colleagues, visiting professionals, the horses in your charge etc.
Character References can be used when you have no employment history and have no previous employers to verify information about you, for example, a school leaver. Friends and family members are not suitable referees for obvious reasons! Character references can be provided by school teachers, college tutors, the owner/manager of your horses livery yard, your riding instructor/trainer or the riding school you’ve attended, the local vet/doctor/police etc.
Horses, dogs and other pets can have character/behaviour references from your previous employers or your horses livery yard owner/manager. If you are moving to a live in job with your own animals, or wish to stable your horse or take your to work with you, your prospective employer would no doubt appreciate character references for your animals!
What if I can give employment references but I’ve never worked with horses before?
Employment references from non-equine employers are just as important. Equine employers are equally interested in your work ethic, attendance, punctuality, and ability to perform at your non-equine job as any job with horses.
To supplement these, it is a good idea to provide character references from people who know you from your equine pursuits, for example, the owner of your horses livery yard, your riding instructor/trainer or the riding school you’ve attended. Hopefully you’ll have read our article on setting up your Jobseekers Profile and you’ll have provided plenty of photos and even videos of your riding and other horsey activities, and you’ll have discussed, if not already attended a working interview or job trial with your prospective employer.
What information do I need to supply for my reference checks?
You need to supply the following for at least 2 previous employers:
- the name of your referee (eg “Jane Bloggs”)
- the company they work/ed for (eg “Holly Hill Livery Yard”)
- their position within the company and/or their relationship to you in that job (eg “Owner”, “Manager” or “Head Groom”)
- their telephone number, preferably both mobile and landline
- an email address for them/the company
It’s advisable to let your referees know that they can expect a call or email from a recruitment agency or prospective employer. So many times we catch unsuspecting referees on-the-hop, and the call can be a wasted opportunity if your referee struggles to recall details of your employment with them. Often they will consider it ‘bad form’ if they haven’t been asked prior to our call and it can get proceedings off to a somewhat negative start…not something anyone wants! Almost all employers know that reference checks are a fundamental part of the recruitment process, and so can always expect a request from a past employee. If you give them the heads up they can prepare details for your references and you’re more likely to get a positive and valuable recommendation.
When do I need to provide details of my referees?
As soon as possible. Speed is the key to successfully securing a good job and when anyone, recruitment agency or employer, is kept waiting for details like this you are at risk of losing out to another, better prepared candidate. If you are a serious, switched on job seeker you will make time to gather this information before you start applying for jobs! We often take references up front so you should never be alarmed when you are asked for this. We are notoriously thorough in our matching good people with good jobs and we always place for longevity in permanent positions; we don’t want to waste your time trekking around the country or the employers time in meeting unsuitable candidates! Please be assured though, we would never contact a referee without your express permission to do so.
What if I don’t provide information for reference checks to be made?
This can be a critical mistake to make. Absence of references/referees or reluctance to provide said information is a big, fat red flag to recruiters and employers. More often than not this happens because:
- the candidate knows their reference checks won’t do them any favours, so decide to withhold any details of previous employers
- the candidate’s previous employers have already refused a request for employment references
We would never recommend an employer commit to a new employee without first having reference checks in place. That being said though, there are certain ‘rules’ that protect you at this stage of the game, so make sure you are aware of what is and isn’t acceptable. You can find out more here.
Reference Checking Employers
Now, here is a topical suggestion! We strongly believe that strategic checking works all ways around! We encourage job seekers to do their research on prospective employers too. Most of the employers we feature at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment are known to us. We won’t have employers on our ‘books’ who we know have any illegal employment practises or a track record of poor management practises and we will not recommend job seekers who don’t play fair or worse either! We are choosy and quality control is something we are very hot on within the legal parameters available to us. You need an agency you can trust, we need job seekers and employers we can trust, and between us we seem to be really making a positive shift in the equestrian recruitment business these days. We are discerning and we fully expect you to be discerning too… simples! 🙂
Further information on pre-employment reference checks
You can find out more about reference checks on the Government website by clicking here.
If you have applied for a job through The Grooms List and would like to have a chat about providing details for reference checks please don’t hesitate to contact us!