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The Recruiter Report: Importance of Collecting References

Nothing motivates people to take action more than a top-quality product or proven idea. In IT staffing, the product is top talent — stellar candidates and/or scalable teams. But, how do recruiters validate that they are providing the best fit? References!

One step of the recruitment process that is sometimes overlooked is references. References are a great resource to get to know an individual beyond what is listed on paper and relayed in an interview. Often what really makes a candidate stand out is getting first-hand insight into their previous professional experiences and how they interact with others.

Details like knowing what challenges candidates may have had to experience and overcome aren’t going to be listed on any resume. LinkedIn may highlight the proudest accomplishments, but what often isn’t shared is the journey of how they were achieved.

Recruiters have the opportunity to chase the details of life experiences that have molded the individual behind resumes and profiles through references. This extra step in the recruitment process is helpful for recruiters when deciding if the candidate’s personality and experience are fit for the role, which is why we feel it's important to not only collect references but to follow up as well! References provide real-world experiences and feedback from those who have worked alongside candidates firsthand.

References Can Help Vet Best-Suited Candidates

One reason why recruiters in the IT staffing industry should collect references is to verify technical skills. Certain roles require specific technical skill levels that may not always be easily discernible in a resume or interview setting. References who have worked with or managed a candidate can shed light on their competency regarding

  • Programming languages

  • Software development methodologies

  • Databases

  • Networking concepts

When you are looking for exceptional talent, references also provide valuable insights into a candidate’s work habits and ethics more intimately. For instance, you can get an idea of how well your candidate will handle tasks under pressure or take initiative within a team environment.

References can also help recruiters evaluate candidates' soft skills such as communication and teamwork capabilities. Most IT projects involve collaboration between team members. It can be critical to know if a candidate would be able to relate effectively with others in different departments. A reference could give feedback about how well they cooperated with colleagues at previous companies or how they approached resolutions.

Hiring Managers Benefit from References

Managerial references are an important tool for IT staffing recruiters — kind of like a secret weapon. They provide a wealth of information about candidates that goes beyond what can be gleaned from resumes and interviews alone.

Meaningful reference checks strengthen a recruiter’s selection ability in comparing candidates’ qualifications beyond what appears on paper. Asking the right open-ended questions can help determine whether someone has the right background for a client's team, project, or role.

“In addition to managerial references being a great way to confirm the candidate’s ability to do the job, they also help us set the candidate up for success! One question we like to ask a reference is, “If we were to hire ____, what are the areas you’d recommend I coach ____ on?” This helps us be aware of areas the candidate may need improvement on, so we can train & develop them successfully from the start.” —Gretchen Olwig, KellyMitchell Senior Director of Talent Engagement

Having references helps hiring managers feel secure in the knowledge that they are able to make informed decisions when searching for the right fit for the company.

So, we encourage any recruiter in the IT staffing industry to hunt down references — they’re the golden ticket! Every candidate has a unique story and skillset to share. It’s our job to connect, listen, and match every purple unicorn with their dream role!

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