Why You Should Provide References To Your Recruiter

The Scenario

Job searching – We’ve all been through the process and are never surprised if we’re asked for references. Especially as the process progresses. But what if you were asked for your references at the beginning of the process instead?

Having been recruiting for the last 5 years, I’ve had my fair share of candidates coming to me with blown up CVs that, to say the least, are stretching the truth. Recruiters receive hundreds of responses for each advertised role, so what differentiates one from the other? Candidates who proactively offer references immediately stand out, they are the ones that shout “I’m successful and great at what I do. Speak to these people to find out more”. Not only do strong references build your profile, it also gives you a lot more credibility because it’s somebody else speaking well about you instead.

“But why should I provide references when the recruiter doesn’t even have a job for me?”

Honestly, it wouldn’t benefit you a whole lot if you were working with a recruiter who only calls candidates up for live/active jobs. A live, or active job, is essentially one that is usually worked on by more than one recruiter. And even if you’re fortunate to work with one who’s working on the role exclusively, you can bet your last dollar that there are many other applicants vying for that same role. In other words, active job = more applicants and greater competition.
A great recruiter creates opportunities when there wasn’t one there in the first place. They market a standout candidate to their existing network of clients even if they’re not in active hiring mode, i.e. no competition and increased chances of landing a job for the candidate. Marketing a candidate requires a lot of commitment and a considerable investment of our time, so we don’t do it unless we’re convinced that the candidate can deliver above expectations, something we gauge from our interview, technical screening and a strong reference from past managers.

“Alright Joseph, I hear you. But if every recruiter calls my referees, they will get countless calls in a day!”

Why are you working with more than one recruiter in the first place? If you think working with more than one recruiter at any one time boosts your chances of success, think again. In a niche market, that is actually counterproductive. You would be far better off working with a trusted specialist, someone who’s committed to you and understands your area of expertise. Their knowledge in your industry combined with their relevant and extensive network of high-quality contacts would be a lot more beneficial.

So the next time you speak to your go-to recruiter, be glad they ask you for references. They must have been impressed.

     Joseph Lee
     Principal Consultant – Microsoft BI
     D:   +61 3 8592 7812
     M:  +61 431 900 812



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