Recruitment: 3 reasons why referrals can be better than resumes

Beef Central, 05/10/2012

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Personal and professional recommendations complete the picture that a resume portrays — and recommendations can complement, or even replace, resumes in an application.

Depending on the source, some employers are more inclined to trust a recommendation. If a highly trusted colleague said, “Hire this person and don’t think twice about it,” you might just do it out of fear of losing an ‘A’ player.

Are job seekers really who they say they are? It is the responsibility of the Human Resources manager-turned-investigator during the recruiting process to answer this question.

Job seekers will strategically place themselves in the best light to be a convincing force for your company.

Here are three reasons why employers should consider recommendations — at times even more so than resumes – in order to determine the truth behind a potential employee’s credentials:

Trusted vs. biased sources

A resume is a subjective document written by the candidate tailored to meet the key responsibilities of the advertised job. Though job seekers often do not seek to tarnish their resumes, there can often be inconsistencies and even the slight embellishment – after all, a confident job seeker will talk themselves up to grab the attention of potential employers.

When taking into consideration the materials presented to you by the job seeker (i.e. portfolio of previous work, certificates of attainment and so on), it is important to identify the source, hence the importance of being able to cross-check this with a referee.

On the other hand, recommendations are written or rated by trusted sources with reputations of their own to uphold. Along with providing a referral comes responsibility. The referee has to be confident enough in the candidate’s ability to succeed or else they will lose their credibility along the way.

Given two resumes with equal work experience and a similar educational background, the one with a solid referral from a trusted source would have the upper hand, every time.

Actions speak louder than words

A potential hire may be able to talk-the-talk, but can they walk-the-walk? If a person is a great articulator and communicator, they will be able to sell themselves in an interview over and over again.

However, the employer needs to know if they can really communicate consistently and in different situations, and that can only be determined by a testimonial from a trusted source.

Talking and doing are two different things. With the power of recommendations, the written skills and accomplishments on a resume are brought to life.

For example, the potential employee may have been a station-hand or a property manager, but what kind of experience (on top of skills and qualifications) was it for those surrounding the person? Was the potential employee hands-on and also diligent with all other responsibilities as well as proving to be a good motivator for his or her staff?

With recommendations, these questions can be answered by a trusted source confirming their actions. Recommendations are the proof in the pudding when it comes validating the candidate’s written qualifications.

Time saver

The recruiting process can be time-consuming. Reviewing resumes, checking references and screening consume time that you will not get back if the candidate does not work out for one reason or another.

By recognising the value of recommendations in the recruiting process, distinguishing between top candidates and the average Jack or Jill becomes simplified.

Consider the resume as your initial filter of candidates. Within six seconds of examining a resume, you have already started to determine if the candidate is the right fit for your business.

Using specific keywords you’re able to filter through the candidates, focusing on the key characteristics in their resume. However, do you still have enough information to determine the ‘A’ players?

By adding personal and professional recommendations revealing the personality, determination, and intelligence of your next potential hire, you can speed-up the process and be certain if an in-person interview is the next appropriate step.

Resumes and recommendations are not mutually exclusive, but relying on one more so than the other can give undue justification of the candidate’s qualifications.

The resume is the sketched outline and recommendations create the full, colourful portrait.

While the merits of a resume may assist the employer consider a candidate for the role, at the end of the day, a great recommendation and good cultural fit goes a long way. Skills can be taught but there are intangible qualities which makes an employee a good fit in the long run can be hard to come by.


Quick on-line recruitment poll:

Do you consider recommendations when hiring? Do you perhaps rely more on one or the other? Tell us what you think (


No strangers to recruitment and screening techniques, AWX Agribusiness has been partnering with businesses for more than ten years. Developing and managing a workforce for the Australian meat industry, AWX is assisting Australia to become the food bowl of the world by driving employment in regional centres and flying the flag of the agribusiness industry as the career path of choice.  


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