Recruitment Blog

Reference checking as a business development tool

Sarah Linney
Content Marketing Manager at JobAdder

Business development tools (BD tools) can sometimes be confused with sales development tools. They both intertwine as business development can extend across different fields including marketing, product management and project management.

But let’s start with the basics. 

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What is business development?

According to Investopedia, business development is “the ideas, initiatives and activities aimed towards making a business better. This includes increasing revenues, growth in terms of business expansion, increasing profitability by building strategic partnerships and making strategic business decisions.” 

In simpler terms, business development is growing a business beyond its current situation and state. This practice aims at identifying, attracting and gathering new business or new clients to further the company’s growth and success. 

Reference checking as a BD tool

Reference checking software Xref enables its customers to use the platform as a BD tool. Xref’s automated online reference checking collects 60% more data 5x faster than traditional reference checking methods. It also happens to be integrated with JobAdder 😉 

According to Chris Murphy, Xref’s Country Manager for Ireland, “most recruitment agencies see reference checking as a potential opportunity for business development and network expansion,” he said. 

Recruiters now also recognise reference checking as a branding opportunity, by positioning themselves apart from the competition. If they can show that they are using technology to add efficiency to their processes and using their client’s money wisely, according to Xref they see that as a benefit.

Xref has worked closely with a number of their recruitment clients “to make this a seamless, compliant process and most importantly, a pleasant experience for all involved,” Chris explained. 

Xref’s BD approach is quite straightforward. “We give referees the option to hear from our client regarding possible employment opportunities, or assistance with hiring needs in their team,” Chris explained.

“Our smart tech and analytics deliver qualified leads, including the referee’s key information and preferences,” he added.

“Within the Xref platform, our customers can access People Search which allows recruiters to run dynamic, real-time searches that can be easily segmented and filtered to deliver highly relevant results,” he added. 

For Xref, one element is brand and the other is productivity, where “from a manager’s perspective, their team is going to be a lot more productive if they’re using Xref and able to use their spare time to focus on business development and generating leads,” Chris said.

Reference checking as a foot in the door

The step-by-step process and overall set up for recruiters, as well as getting that end result, can be easily explained. For this example, once the recruiter has their ATS in place, as well as their reference checking tool, they can then talk to their clients and use reference checking as a reason to promote the efficiencies they offer and help get them through the door. 

Once the recruiter’s client uses Xref as a reference checking tool all they have to do is turn on the option to include opt-in questions in their reference requests. The moment the recruiter receives the reference they can create a report of those who are interested in being contacted. 

“Recruiters have been using reference checks as a way to do business development before.”

Chris Murphy

There’s an underlying assumption that recruiters need to pick up the phone in order to benefit from using references as a BD tool.  

Chris added that “it’s not a new thing to recruiters. It’s just about saying to them, you can do your business development through Xref, and you can do it a lot more efficiently.”

The ROI of reference checks as a BD tool

The results have been quite impressive so far. From a sample of 10,000+ referees (including all role types and levels), Xref has seen approximately 38% (3,800) qualified leads who have opted-in for future contact. This encompasses both employment opportunities and assistance with hiring needs in their team. Digging further, these leads have resulted in approximately 400+ new inbound business opportunities.  

Chris said that with the help of their customers, Xref has “created a digitised version of a common process in recruitment, allowing for a more consistent, compliant and measurable approach to business development.” Chris is thrilled for the future, thanks to the help and feedback of their customers.

The challenges of business development

Recruiters can come up against a number of challenges when using reference checking as a business development tool. According to Chris, two spring to mind:

  • Recruiters and referees are time-poor so it can be difficult to convert a reference call into a BD opportunity
  • There is rarely a consistent or measurable approach to lead generation, so the value is often unknown and missed

How these challenges are handled all comes down to how your reference checking platform treats each referee. Xref ensures every referee is treated as a potential candidate or client, where they provide them with a “fully compliant opt-in process that identifies their key information and preferences; providing our clients with inbound qualified leads that are easily actionable (at the time of reference and in the future),” Chris explained.

Add to your business pipeline

Chris believes that Xref doesn’t need to educate the market on why they should be using this method of growing business. “The arguments around efficiency, consistency and compliance – everyone gets that now,” he said.

It comes down to one thing: “Not only could you be making sure you’re doing your reference checks properly, but while you’re doing them you can also be adding to your business development pipeline,” Chris explained.

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be getting more value from the reference checking process. It’s also a possible revenue generator as well as providing a level of assurance that you are hiring the right people,” he said. 


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