Referencing in the Recruiting World

Written by: Mark Rowbottom
President of Recruiters of Wisconsin

The purpose of this handout is to go over the 5 “W’s” of referencing. Referencing is an extremely important tool that serves multiple purposes.

  • Who – You ideally want to be talking with someone who has hire/fire authority. Before calling references, check their LinkedIn profile and know something more about them outside of being the reference. Rather than co-workers or friends, people that work above the individual as Managers or Directors can provide a better insight on the individuals’ performance and gives you a more credible reference.
  • What – When you call individuals and leave messages asking for a return call, they are rarely returned. However, references are different— people do call back! Human nature is such that co-workers and former bosses want to “help” people they have been close to. There is a benefit to them both intrinsically and externally.
  • When/Why – Doing references before you present your candidate will set you apart from other recruiters. Few of our clients even bother with references, especially if we have already provided them. This not only makes us stand out from other agencies, but also expedites the process of obtaining an offer.

How – Prepare the person giving the reference before you delve in about the candidate. Make sure they have adequate time for your call, if they do not schedule an appointment. During the reference, let the caller know you will be taking notes, so there may be some “quiet time”. You may also want to inform them about how long the call should take as well. Allow the reference to expound on the individual strengths. Paraphrase comments back for affirmation and greater embellishment. Ask questions as they come-up and have some flexibility in your form to make for a smoother conversation. Set the tone- this referencing is an important part of a successful search. This is likely a first impression opportunity for you and your firm. Create an attachable reference form you can email as well. You may find that references will complete this form and return it to you if they do not have time for a conversation.
  • Closure – Thank the reference on behalf of the individual, you, and your firm. Use your LinkedIn knowledge to develop additional rapport with whom you spoke with. Confirm their e-mail address and phone number. Let them know that the reference is for our records, but may be shared with a potential employer and if it would be okay for them to contact them to corroborate the reference.

Internal vs External Recruiters

Written by: Mark Rowbottom

President of Recruiters of Wisconsin

Here it is simply put: When you are an external recruiter, you can choose what companies to work with and what jobs to work on. When you are an internal recruiter there is no saying “No”, you work on everything as required. In addition, you may have other job responsibilities outside of recruiting such as, Vendor Management, Performance Management, Training Management, Maintaining Employee Files, Resolving Conflict, Employment Law, Onboarding Processes, Succession Planning, Employment Processing, Union & Labor issues, Scheduling and Continuing Education & Training of all the above. Internal recruiting quantity and quality suffers due to the overabundance of duties. External recruiters’ can focus on talking and forming relationships with existing and new candidates/companies.

Occasionally, there can be conflict amongst the internal and external recruiters. There are two issues that seem to resurface; one is a control issue and the other is financially motivated. When internal recruiters engage external recruiters, they can sometimes view this as a failure of their efforts to date. When this occurs, internal recruiters can show some reluctance in relinquishing control of the process to engage external recruiters.

If you sense a feeling of resentment may exist with a client, it’s necessary to address these issues engaging in a diplomatic strategy. Here are a few suggestions to deflate any current or potential future resentment. Keep in mind the following strategies can be used with all hiring authorities and are not exclusive to HR/internal recruiters.

  • Recognize the efforts made by the Internal Recruiter
  • Acknowledge your fee as an External Recruiter who can focus on this position and has access to candidates who may consider a change because of the opportunity available
  • Discuss the costs of a ‘bad hire’ and/or the cost of position vacancy, i.e., consultant fees, overloading other employees, morale issues.

  • Get to the business of collaboration. Determine what avenues have been utilized, the expected fill date, how interviews will be scheduled, and who the decision-maker is. Having these issues settled up-front will facilitate the process.

Trying to compare internal to external recruiting is like trying to compare a red to a white wine. The two are truly unique of one another, but yet serve similar roles. Well run organizations and HR departments are savvy in when to use external recruiters whether retainer, contingency, or otherwise. As external recruiters, we need to be equally as savvy in identifying such organizations. All mutually beneficial relationships in the professional and personal world share a common theme: a mutual respect and genuine concern for each other’s business successes. Ask the tough questions, be prepared to walk away, and keep qualifying because your best client is yet to come.

There are distinct advantages for both internal and external recruiters that are exclusive. Internal recruiters are privy advisors on such matters as internal company organizational charts, planning, and onboarding issues. An internal recruiter may share confidential company information on succession planning or an upcoming merger. Their roll allows them privileges to information that may be of value in making a good career decision for candidates and augments their ability to recruit top talent. Clearly, outside recruiters do not have access to internal and confidential company information. The best HR representatives can “take over” processing recruits by creating good rapport and a strong connection. They can use their advantages and may offer a business card and all of their contact information. When a candidate is told by HR to “call me directly” or other directives that indicate they are clearly the one, the external recruiter can be viewed as no longer needed by either party.

External recruiters also have exclusive advantages. The primary advantage being they work with a number of companies, not just one. This is a very big advantage for external recruiters. Some examples include: If an opportunity with a company does not come to fruition that doesn’t mean the candidate is out of consideration for other employment opportunities. External recruiters spend a considerable amount of time working on a candidate’s behalf. Ironically, the client companies are liable for compensating the recruiters.

It is essential to recognize and respect the differences, similarities and value of both Internal and External Recruiters. The shared goal, to put the best candidate in the position, is the priority. Long-term relationships with companies, Internal Recruiters and candidates are fostered by mutual respect and shared success.