Read this simple (but complete) guide to understanding how to select the best referees to support your job application, the purpose of reference checks, the POPI (Act) permission, and pitfalls of background checks.
Background and Forensic Checks Through Clearance Bureaus
The POPI Act outlines the strict Do’s and Don’ts of sharing one’s personal information. No person may conduct background checks without express permission in writing to do so.
To verify Identification and Citizenship, academic qualifications, driver’s license, work permits, Directorship confirmation, employment history, social media activity and credit status, recruiters use two suppliers for verification of information:
- Lexis Nexis
- MIE Kroll
Fingerprint or Biometric checks can be done by anyone who legally owns the software and scanner
and who has been professionally trained in its use. Checks can also be done through third party clearing bureaus who use Afiswitch or directly at your nearest SAPS office. Some checks are even run through Interpol.
Simply stated, it is so that hiring organisations know who they will be are hiring. If they need to appoint an individual who will work with money, they need to be sure that the prospective incumbent is not a financial delinquent. Or that their new drive is safe and responsible and does not have a string of DUI’s listed against him.
Pitfalls of a Positive Result:
It is always best to disclose your credit (or any other type of history for that matter) to the recruiter at the outset, as it pertains to your application. Having a poor history does not mean it is the end of the road if the applicant can prove that there were mitigating circumstances that led to their current poor credit record: i.e., that them being unemployed for a period has resulted in default in payments to the bank, but that they have a letter from the bank confirming they are repaying the debt.
Applicants can pay a fee to the clearance bureau to assist applicants who have longstanding judgements expunged, in so doing to clear away the history that remains on the profile even after the debt has been repaid.
References Confirming Your Employment, Skills, and Character
Let’s move on to the Reference Check. There are two major types of references:
What makes a Reference Check worthless?
- Don’t include the names of family members, such as parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, or spouses.
- Stale or inaccurate contact details.
- Referees who can’t speak to your strengths or experience.
And, what makes it valuable?
- Unless you still work for the employer, the referee should ideally be from your most recent place of work (current < not older than three years).
- Choose referees that you work(ed) closely with to vouch for and affirm your skills, attitude, character, and track record. Often, this person is or was a direct superior. Regrettably, in some cases, companies aren’t willing to provide references but will confirm your Employment History and Reason for Leaving. To cast aspirations aside, make 100% sure that your story correlates with theirs.
- Character references from friends, church leaders, mentors, teachers, and lectures support your character and highlight your virtues (and possibly your vices).
Three Actionable Reference Selection Tips:
- It’s polite and professional to ask for their permission to be listed as a reference contact.
- Confirm their correct contact details (spelling of their name, email address, and contact telephone or mobile numbers.
- State their job title and the company’s name that they worked for while you reported to them.
We hope this helped demystify the process of background and reference checking and that you’ve seen how valuable it is to choose the right person for your reference contact list.