​Employment referencing: best practice tips for employers

In a recent survey by Reed Screening, 78% of employers stated that reference checks were the slowest part of the hiring process. In this article, Keith Rosser, Director of Reed Screening, shares useful guidance on how to make referencing efficient.

6 mins read
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7 months ago

A recent poll conducted by Reed Screening revealed that 78% of employers identified reference checks as the most time-consuming aspect of the recruitment process. In this piece, Keith Rosser, the Director of Reed Screening, provides valuable advice on how to streamline the referencing process.

In the current aggressive job market, it's crucial for employers to make well-informed hiring choices to strengthen their team.

Employment referencing is a vital component of recruitment; it offers employers a straightforward and efficient method to confirm a candidate's qualifications and experience. By reaching out to previous employers, recruiters can verify the authenticity of a resume, evaluate the reliability of a prospective new hire, and ensure the effectiveness of the recruitment process.

Although it might appear mundane, the act of referencing can offer profound understanding into an applicant's background, work habits, and appropriateness for a position. Nonetheless, it's crucial to bear in mind the legal and ethical implications involved.

Understand referencing

There are primarily two components that most companies consider as part of an employment reference check: employment verification or a basic check (confirmation of dates and roles from a previous employer) and substantive referencing or an enhanced check (detailed feedback on the individual's behavior and proficiency). Even though there's no legal or regulatory requirement, many companies choose to perform only basic checks, but it's advisable to be aware of both.

When requesting references from applicants, it can be extremely advantageous in certain situations to go beyond simply verifying employment history and job positions. If necessary, it might be more effective to pose open-ended questions to the reference to gain a deeper insight into the applicant's strengths and weaknesses, work habits, collaboration skills, and overall job performance.

This method can provide deeper insights into a candidate's personality and skills, enabling you to make a more educated choice when hiring. However, a simple reference check is sufficient and can be performed digitally to speed up the recruitment process.

Reed Screening carried out a study on 100,000 job references, revealing significant problems in the reference process, such as:

  • Volume – out of the 100,000 references requested, only 61% were received.

  • Veracity – among the received ones, 31% had inconsistencies compared to the information given by the candidate.

  • Value – 81% of the references received only included the employment dates.

  • Verification – 65% of the referee data provided by the candidate was incorrect.

Verify authenticity

Examining a candidate's employment history is crucial to confirm the accuracy of the details provided by the applicant. If they are hiding information from a prospective employer, it can lead to serious repercussions.

This could lead you to doubt the candidate's honesty and integrity, potentially delaying your hiring schedule and necessitating a restart of certain stages of the recruitment process, which is both time-consuming and costly.

Make sure the reference is genuine and not concocted by the applicant. Ask for references from official company email addresses or phone numbers to verify the referee's identity, or use instant referencing – a method that utilizes payroll and open banking data to confirm employment dates and salary details. This can help deter fraudulent references.

Lately, there's been a surge in recruitment scams and so-called "reference houses": websites that appear authentic with seemingly real email and phone contacts, designed to provide counterfeit references for a fee. It's crucial for companies to enhance their strategies to combat this issue by conducting IP address verifications of online references, automatic searches against recognized reference houses, and pre-validated legitimate business addresses.

Traditional reference systems that merely streamline the reference procedure are unlikely to detect systematic fake references which, in the end, are employed to conceal something from the applicant's employment history.

Make security a priority

Traditional procedures are frequently conducted through email, posing a risk of personal information being dispatched to an incorrect email address or being compromised. Numerous protective measures are implemented to prevent this, but as this data is exchanged in emails and documents, it becomes increasingly vulnerable to fraudulent activities and data leaks.

Employers need to be cognizant of and adhere to United States data protection and privacy regulations, like GDPR. They should obtain permission from the applicant to reach out to their references and manage their information. It's crucial to be clear about the reason for the reference verification.

Respect confidentiality and be objective

Ex-employers might not always be willing to disclose information about a candidate's performance due to privacy agreements, which should be honored. In such situations, you might need to request the candidate to provide a different professional reference, or you might need to determine if you're willing to take a chance and move forward.

Refrain from forming presumptions or personal opinions based solely on the feedback from references. Keep in mind that references might have their own prejudices or incentives. Use the information as a component of the decision-making process, weighing it against other elements such as work history, qualifications, and training.

Ask for recent references

For a precise assessment of a candidate's present skills and work approach, seek references from their latest employers.

The reference provider should be authenticated to ensure the reliability of the data, along with verifying the specifics of the candidate's employer - this helps to discard any misleading information, thereby minimizing the potential for mistakes.

Cross-check the information

Fraudsters may easily hide accurate information when reference verifications are not implemented. The ideal approach would be to incorporate a comprehensive evaluation of cross-checked data provided, and additional scrutiny of any suspicious inconsistencies or warning signs in the interim.

"Remember to look for inconsistencies and discrepancies, as this can provide valuable insight into a candidate's honesty and integrity."

Keith Rosser, Director, Reed Screening

Don't forget to search for inconsistencies and contradictions, as these can offer crucial understanding into a candidate's truthfulness and integrity. Despite having a digital procedure, it's still deemed as a best practice to verify the information.

Develop a reference policy

Implement a well-defined policy for reference verification that details the procedures and criteria for performing the checks. This policy should be uniformly enforced for all applicants to guarantee impartiality and adherence - whether the process is manual or digital.

For all resumes, it's crucial to scrutinize the employment history, proof of employment gaps, and references - this includes examining the provided dates and demanding clarifications for any deceptive details - as this is vital to uphold and foster a more secure work environment for everyone.

Instant referencing

Employment referencing is a crucial tool for employers to make informed hiring decisions. Failing to conduct proper checks can put you at risk of financial or reputational damage.

Instant referencing platforms automate the process of collecting and verifying employment references, which is faster and more efficient than traditional methods. These platforms provide quality data directly from your candidate’s past employers, enabling you to make better hiring choices.

To learn more about how our instant referencing technology can accelerate and streamline your hiring process, get in touch with one of our experts.

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How to become a hotel manager

​When it comes to the hospitality industry, the role of a hotel manager is crucial in ensuring the smooth operation of a hotel. From overseeing day-to-day operations to managing staff and ensuring guest satisfaction, hotel managers play a key role in the success of a hotel. If you are considering a career in hotel management, it's important to understand what the role entails and whether it is the right fit for you.

What does a Hotel Manager do?

A hotel manager is responsible for overseeing the overall operations of a hotel, including managing staff, ensuring guest satisfaction, and maximizing revenue. They are typically in charge of setting and achieving financial goals, developing and implementing policies and procedures, and maintaining high standards of customer service. Hotel managers also handle issues such as staffing, budgeting, marketing, and public relations to ensure the hotel runs smoothly and efficiently.

Is a career as a Hotel Manager right for me?

A career as a hotel manager can be both rewarding and challenging. If you have a passion for hospitality, strong leadership skills, and a knack for problem-solving, a career in hotel management may be a good fit for you. It's important to be able to work well under pressure, communicate effectively with staff and guests, and adapt to changing situations in a fast-paced environment. Additionally, a willingness to work long hours, including nights and weekends, is often required in this role.

Key responsibilities of a Hotel Manager

Some key responsibilities of a hotel manager include:

  • Overseeing day-to-day operations of the hotel

  • Managing staff and ensuring they are properly trained and motivated

  • Ensuring guest satisfaction and responding to guest feedback

  • Developing and implementing strategic plans to achieve financial goals

  • Managing budgets and controlling costs

  • Marketing and promoting the hotel to attract guests

  • Maintaining high standards of cleanliness and safety

  • Handling any issues or complaints that arise

Career progression

For those interested in a career in hotel management, there are opportunities for career progression. Many hotel managers start out in entry-level positions and work their way up through the ranks. With experience and dedication, it is possible to advance to higher-level management roles such as general manager or regional manager. Continuing education and professional development can also help hotel managers advance their careers and stay current in the industry.

A career as a hotel manager can be a fulfilling and challenging path for those with a passion for hospitality and leadership. By understanding the role, responsibilities, and potential for career progression, you can determine if a career in hotel management is the right fit for you.

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Employee tenure: long-term relationship or short-term fling?
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Employee tenure: long-term relationship or short-term fling?

​We all want committed employees but is length of service a true indicator of engagement? Does simply staying around in an employment relationship mean you’re all in? Of course, there are no simple answers to these questions – each situation is as individual as the parties involved – but it is worth thinking about what benefits both short and long tenure bring – and not rushing to build assumptions (or recruitment practices) on one or the other. 

So, what is employee tenure? It is generally defined as the length of time an individual spends with the same organisation or working for the same employer. According to the CIPD, the most common length of service is between two and five years (22.4%) but employees with over five years’ service make up nearly 50% of the workforce (Jan-Dec 2022).  

Is a long-term relationship better? You can certainly be forgiven for thinking so, as our corporate landscape often places value on long service and actively engages with strategies to lengthen or reward employee tenure. But why? Here are some key benefits of both short- and long-term tenures:

Long-term employee tenure

Increased productivity

Tenured employees tend to have a clear understanding of their roles and company goals due to their experience and time with the organisation. This familiarity with processes and procedures can allow them to work efficiently and contribute positively to productivity, as they are able to navigate the idiosyncrasies inherent in all companies. Quite often, they will have developed practices that enable the most efficient use of time to achieve objectives and outputs; and are then able to influence wider practices to spread the word. 

Stability and commitment 

Tenured employees will often feel more secure in their positions and so, can demonstrate greater commitment to the company. Their loyalty contributes to a stable work environment, which can positively impact team dynamics and overall organisational success. My current HR team has an average tenure of around 10 years, and this contributes to a very supportive and effective working environment – although how they’ve put up with me over the years is still a mystery! 

Skill set and knowledge base

Over time, tenured employees accumulate valuable knowledge and skills specific to their roles. This expertise can not only be passed down to new hires, benefitting the organisation as a whole, but also help with integrating new technologies and processes, ensuring they work for the business. We all have a ‘go-to’ person in our companies who is the fount of all knowledge and can help give a perspective gained from years of experience and insight. 

Company ambassadors

A company that retains its workforce builds a reputation for employee satisfaction. In a world where Employee Value Proposition (EVP) plays an important role in both retention and attraction, having employees who are aligned with the company ethos and happy to talk about why they’ve stayed so long, is a real asset. Plus, they are able to share this insight with new hires, acting as mentors and imparting knowledge and enthusiasm for the company. 

Short-term employee tenure

So, if long tenured employees are the utopia, why does an interim market exist, I hear you ask? What about those contractors who enjoy short-term assignments or project-based roles? Well, as I mentioned earlier, there are benefits to both forms of tenure and while the above benefits can be true of long-term relationships, there is also a lot to be said for a short-term fling (from an employment perspective, I hasten to add): 

Career experience 

Demonstrating experience in diverse roles can make employees more attractive to potential employers, not only for permanent positions but also where a specific skill set or experience is needed. Working in various short-terms roles can help to provide this and organisations then benefit from someone who can bring real-life examples from different workplaces. 


Working across different organisations and/or industries means employees will have experience of adapting to new environments or taking on responsibilities they haven't had before. This can encourage a mindset that is open to new ideas, as well as sharing them, and so means organisations benefit from having a versatile employee who excels in new environments. 


By accepting that an individual is not planning on bedding down within the organisation, employers may find a level of openness and challenge that is not there in others. The short-termer will be happy to challenge the status quo and focus on meeting the objectives in hand, even if that means coming up with new ways of working or unsettling the cart. While this might not be comfortable for all involved, it will foster an environment where ‘this is how it’s always been done’ is no longer a mantra. 

Ambition and drive 

Employees who are prepared to leave a company to seek new challenges or career development that is not available to them if they stay, show a level of ambition that is likely to have benefitted the company during their employment. In addition, they could well be the individuals who return to the organisation as future leaders, and so allowing them the opportunity to gain new experiences, while leaving on good terms, is a no brainer. 

Final thoughts 

With benefits of both types of tenure, where does this leave you? Should you be looking for a serial monogamist or a more open relationship? Well, as with most things in life, there isn’t a simple answer. It’s primarily about striking the right balance within your workforce and accepting that people have different preferences and needs.

Of course, you should be looking to encourage retention and reward those who show loyalty to the company, but you should also embrace those who leave sooner than hoped as they may one day wish to return. Many people, having gained certain skills and experience elsewhere, will fondly remember their experience at an organisation and consider rejoining. Therefore, the main thing to remember is how all employees are treated and valued during their time with you. Who knows, you may rekindle a relationship with an old flame further down the line! 

Looking for your next great hire in the HR space, or looking for pastures new? Contact our specialist consultants to start the journey.

Hospitality resume template
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Hospitality resume template

​Build the perfect hospitality resume with our free template

[Full Name]
[Home address]
[Contact Number] • [Email Address]

Personal Statement

Stick to no more than four sentences in this section of your CV.

“I am a professionally qualified chef with over 15 years’ experience. During this time I have worked in fine dining restaurants up to a 2 rosette standard and spent two years working for high society event caterers across Europe. I hold an up to date Level 3 Certificate in Food Hygiene, and am now looking for my first Head Chef role.”


This is your chance to talk about your qualifications, academic and vocational. This is a particularly important section for those with little experience. You should give detail about what you studied, where and when, and list them in chronological order.

If you have many of one qualification, such as GCSEs or professional qualification e.g. HND in Hotel Management/NVQ Level 3 Professional Cookery etc. you might find it useful to group them together.

[University Name]
[Date M/Y– Date M/Y]

[Degree Class]
[Degree Name]

[College/School Name]
[Date M/Y– Date M/Y]


  • [Subject] – [Grade]

  • [Subject] – [Grade]

  • [Subject] – [Grade]


  • [Number] GCSEs, grades [range], including Maths and English

Work Experience

Try not to repeat yourself when you are bullet pointing each job. Mix it up, and try to think of different skills/styles of environment you’ve worked in. This should be brief and, as a general rule of thumb, focus on the last five years of your career, or last three roles, in chronological order with the most recent at the top. You should highlight your key achievements and use bullet points rather than lengthy descriptions.

October 2010 – Present

Senior Sous Chef, REED Restaurant, London, 3 rosettes

  • Brief overview: [state any promotions you’ve had and your responsibilities e.g. staff training, recruitment, stock/cost control P&L, marketing strategy, managing suppliers etc.]

  • Environment worked within: I worked in a [size of brigade/team] to produce [style of food] in a [establishment e.g. hotel/bar/restaurant] with [status e.g. Rosette, Michelin etc.]. Or I worked on [event/contract catering/food retail/production/New Product Development] with [result].

  • Worked/managed [different sections/departments/teams e.g. F&B, events, reception, general/kitchen, corporate or leisure sales, revenue management etc.]

  • Received a [include achievements e.g. Bib Gourmand/Rosette/Michelin/Trip Advisor score, increase in revenue etc.] for [reason]

Hobbies and Interests

If you are a chef, clients would expect to see that at least one of your hobbies relates to cooking or eating out.

If you work front of house it would be advised to include interests in different styles of restaurants or bars, give examples of your knowledge.

“I have a keen interest in craft beer and whisky, and have recently discovered The East London Liquor Company.”

Make it relevant.


References are available upon request.