Have You Abandoned Reference Checks Because They Take Too Long?


There are over six billion connected phone calls made every day in the U.S. alone.  www.quora.com Extrapolate that worldwide and the number is unbelievable!  Keep in mind, that is connected phone calls- not total phone calls.  

Why is this statistic relevant? Ask anyone that recruits or has recruited, and I am sure that they feel like they alone made or fielded at least six billion calls on any given day.  The “do more with less” era in history is now upon us, thanks in part to the recession era of 2003-2011.  Corporate belts have  been tightened, workforces downsized, and recruiting staffs have been cut in both large and small industries. What we sometimes forget is that certain industries flourish during times of recession.

Among them are:

  • Discount Retailers
  • So-called “Sin” Industries e.g. Alcohol, tobacco, etc.
  • Machinery Service Providers e.g. automotive, household appliance, etc.
  • Healthcare and Pharma
  • Acc ounting/Tax industries


Recruiting for these industries does not stop with a poor economy, and with recruiting, comes the recruiting process.  www.investopedia.com

Decreasing staff while demanding increased throughput demands the cultivation of a special  workforce. At the same time management needs a more motivated and effective workforce, they are also looking for ways to trim their budget. Streamlining services and cutting corners are distinctly different approaches. Streamlining brings increased efficiency without compromising quality or compliance.  Cutting corners, while perhaps appealing for the short term, may cost in the effectiveness of your company, the quality of your services, and your compliance. Hence, the title of this article: “Have You Abandoned Reference Checks Because They Take Too Long?”  

Areas to streamline could be:

  • Technology
  • Process enhancements
  • Restructure

Corners to cut (or not to cut):

  • Due Diligence- Reference Checking, Background Screening
  • Proper Technology
  • Performance Bonuses
  • Insurances

Many can attest that during tough times or struggling times, bad habits can form, and they can prove unexpectedly costly.  The difference between streamlining and cutting corners is a great example.   

I grew up in a family-owned retail home furnishing business.  We began noticing that in the early 2000’s we were getting charged a fuel surcharge on our freight bills from all of our suppliers.  That was understandable as fuel prices were at an all-time high, approaching and eventually surpassing the $4/gallon mark.  Over the next couple of years, by the mid to late 2000’s, fuel prices were cut in half- pretty nice relief!! The interesting thing is that the fuel surcharge NEVER WENT AWAY!  That was an example of a “bad habit” caused by tough or struggling times.

As things improved, the businesses that remained regained some stability; however, they soon realized that they now had a workforce that could perform and were used to increased production with fewer resources.  That is fine unless, corners are cut.   Cutting corners, even  in tough times, is just as dangerous as cutting corners when the environment is healthy.  It can  quickly result in the creation of long-lasting bad habits.

Relating this back to the recruiting world, stretching staff to perform more with less is fine, but if valuable parts of due diligence is being “cut out” because of “cutting corners” when times are tough; that is NOT FINE.  In fact, that is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.  

Instead, look for ways to increase efficiency through resources that you may or may not already have.  Automation is one way.  Adding automation into the time consuming, arduous task of reference checking might be an option.  Integrate recruiting systems with HRIS systems to move to a “single log in” situation may be another.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

                             -Knute Rockne

I have always thought that you can tell much about a person by how they act when things get tough. The same can surely be said for organizations.  

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