Do I have to use my last employer as a reference

Do I Have to Use My Last Employer as a Reference?

With 95% of employers confirming that reference checks are a vital part of their hiring process, having your references lined up is essential. If you do not have people ready to provide both detailed and character references, you could run the risk of delays taking place, which in the worst case, could result in a job being lost! Furthermore, as 46% of people say they have lied on a job application, the business case for requiring these has only continued to get strong over the past few years.

Do I have to use my last employer as a reference? This is a question we get asked a lot at AutoRefs as we specialise in supporting HR teams to bring in top talent. In this blog, we will look at an employee’s rights when it comes to asking for a reference and how it could impact your chances of securing that dream role if the reference doesn’t come through. 

Keep on reading to find out more!

What is the purpose of a reference?

Do I have to use my last employer as a reference
Do I have to use my last employer as a reference

To help companies make wiser recruitment decision making, job references allow validation to be made from the information provided within an application. This stops any issues from arising further down the line and ensures that employers feel confident in the members they bring into a company. 

Other reasons include the following:

  • By checking in previous colleagues and managers, it doesn’t just confirm that the job was actually carried out, but allows for a more detailed look at the duties covered within a role. Even something as simple as a job title, which 16% of people are said to have lied about, can clearly indicate whether the prospective candidate is ideal for a role.  
  • Character fit is highly important at work, so your new job will want to ensure that you have the right personality traits to immerse successfully into a business. With this, a candidate will be able to handle all elements of work and potentially cause issues that spread beyond their team. 
  • Some industries, such as financial professionals, legally require references to be received. This is because the information directly correlates to the level of skills and experience required by professional bodies, which relate to elements such as insurance and compliance. 
  • Last but not least, a reference confirms a range of pieces of information which can be stored on an employee’s HR file that are legally standing if ever required.  

Ultimately, a reference provides peace of mind to a new company that the candidate in question meets the requirements of a job role and that they stand a great chance of being a success. 

Who can I use as a reference?

Different companies will have their own rules for providing references, but the two most common types are detailed and character. For both forms, a referee should be someone that has known you for a certain length of time, and that is in a position to provide accurate information that can be verified if needed. 

Detailed references related to job history and skills with information such as length of work experience, qualifications, personal information, and association with industry bodies are a few examples of commonly obtained evidence. These should always be provided by somebody from an HR or management position who has access to the data needed. 

If someone from within a company is not available, you can still provide some forms of detailed information via professionals that you may be associated with outside of work such as volunteer efforts or other business ventures. Most businesses are open to suggestions and as long as the referee has access to relevant data, the information should still be relevant.

Character references are personal accounts of a candidate as a person and are often used to see if the person in question aligns with the values of a hiring company. These forms of references do need to be managed carefully as a negative or unjust account which is seen not to have any evidence that can be legally dealt with.

Character reference information is usually provided by someone who has known the candidate for a long amount of time and can prove this relationship. Close friends and professionals, such as a family doctor etc, can be used but family members are not suitable due to the high level of bias which is likely to be at play.

At AutoRefs, we normally recommend a mix of types of reference information reflected in the question profiles we offer for companies to use. Reference requests should always be fully compliant and demonstrate an understanding of data safety in how the information is obtained. Employees can also ask to see a copy of their references if they are successful, meaning they need to be stored in an HR database that is secure but accessible. 

Why might a hiring management want my last employer to be a reference?

Do I have to use my last employer as a reference
Do I have to use my last employer as a reference

A previous employer is commonly used as a reference as they have the most relevant information for the new company. They can clarify aspects such as length of service and role requirements which gives the best view of whether a candidate is right for the new job.

Elements such as character references will also be most accurate from a recent employer as their information is fresh and new. A new job doesn’t want to know what an employee was like years ago but how they performed weeks or months ago, as this is what matters.

Your last employer will also be most relevant when it comes to aspects such as payroll and other legal requirements, which HR teams often need to gain clarification on so as not to be breaking any laws in terms of registering a new starter.

Whilst you don’t have to use your most recent employer is not specified, it is always advisable as this give you the best chance of successfully passing all screening stages. If a candidate has a recent not to provide this information, this could also be used as a viable reason not to contain a previous employer, even if it is company policy.

Also important to consider is that references are factual pieces of data, that eliminate the chance of vias or incorrect information being provided. By having this information come from a previous employer, the chance of information being relevant to the new role is much higher.

How do I ask someone to be a referee?

The best way to ensure that references come through is to have written confirmation that they are willing to provide information when contacted. This provides a legally binding basis on which a reference needs to be supplied.

We always recommend have references lined up in advance and asking if data can be shared as this stops any issues from occurring down the line. Situations in which a candidate does not need to ask for consent in advance of reference details being shared include the following:

– If your contact specifically states that a reference will be given at the end of your employment.

– If you work within a sector, such as the financial industry, that says employment references are a legal requirement for obtaining work.

Does my last employer legally have to provide a reference for me?

Despite employment references being a common thing, unless the above reasons are relevant, there is no legal requirement for a former employer to provide information. The reason for this doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee is not fit for the role but may simply be a case of the company not wanting or having the time to provide information. 

We have made it our mission to stop missed references from wreaking havoc on new roles by creating a process that encourages more companies to provide references. By creating a process that allows swift online completion and secure data delivery, we have found that more precious employers are more likely to provide information when required. 

By modernising the way that people are hired, we have improved the chance of candidates being successful!

Think about your own pile of work. Are you more likely to fill out a quick online survey or spend time typing up a manual document? The reality is that if a quick-to-complete reference is available, the chance of it being completed is much higher. 

You can find out exactly how to implement a referencing checking system by clicking here.

Are you ready for a modern approach to reference gathering?

Do I have to use my last employer as a reference? This is one of the most common questions that both candidates will search for and hiring managers are asked when a new job is being managed.

By understanding the reasons being a reference, most companies are willing to be compliant but there will always be some cases in which it is not possible. With AutoRefs, the chance of receive quality references is much higher than traditional methods.

We allow companies to create compelling questionnaires that are fully compliant and can be answered quickly.

Click here to find out more about our pricing


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