The staffing industry has grown year after year and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future – surprising, right? Whether you are a veteran consultant or recently started your consulting career, there is a decent chance you have already been contacted by one or more staffing agencies this week alone. While some companies pride themselves on speed and efficiency, others tend to work on a slower, more qualitative pace. You could also deduce that the level of competition to be a client’s sole sourcing agency is more convoluted and competitive than ever. Establishing credibility and a long-lasting business relationship ultimately comes down to one thing: the first candidate placed. The first consultant onsite is a representation or extension of a company’s talent pool. The first candidate can make or break a relationship that could ultimately benefit all parties involved if cultivated correctly.

Endless War for Great Talent:
The competition has become fiercer on all sides of this industry. Although competition can be very healthy for the industry, it has also allowed for not-so-reputable agencies and consultants to emerge: consultants constantly changing allegiances and falsely promoting themselves to have the best shot at landing an opportunity and agencies using the old “bait-and-switch” to lure in good talent, which usually ends up backfiring anyways. Ultimately, there are a lot of people out there that are talking the talk but are not able to walk the walk.

The “Why” Behind a Reference Request:
Timing plays a huge factor in this industry and can truly make any opportunity a make-or-break situation. So, the question becomes: “How do we efficiently qualify strong talent without sacrificing quality?”. A recruiter’s ability to understand the industry’s trends and tendencies can make the difference between a successful recruiter and a not-so-successful recruiter. Asking great questions is a strong way to start because it can give a recruiter credibility in a conversation, allowing it to become fluid and successful. Unfortunately, for every great question, there is a possibility of receiving a great answer that can make it sound like the consultant is the perfect match for a great opportunity. The ability of a recruiter to ultimately verify that the consultant can do what he or she says they can do is left to one key component: the reference check. A recruiter can ask amazing questions and still be fooled into thinking they are talking to the perfect fit because, at the end of the day, if they had the true knowledge of a great consultant, they would probably be consulting and not recruiting. A good reference check is the last line of defense prior to introducing your “star candidate” to a potential client.

What a Great Reference can Accomplish:
A verifiable reference is the greatest tool a recruiter has in their arsenal to prove that a consultant can effectively handle the proposed task at hand. A manager who is willing to put their name on the line to back a consultant’s work ethic and abilities can go a long way in this congested line of work. As a recruiter, I have received a lot a push back on reference requests.
I leave you with this final thought: If you were a hiring manager with three qualified candidates to decide on and only one of them has great references on file from a recent position, which one would you choose? This could be the clear difference between a candidate receiving an offer or being passed on by the hiring manager.

Recruiter tip of the month: “Have your references ready to present, as we will not proceed without them.”
– Kenny Llanos, ERP/HCM Recruiter