(HR Insight) Will silent ‘reputation checks’ determine success or failure when changing jobs? – Fortune Korea VRESP


“Because the interview results were excellent and the portfolio was solid, we hired an experienced candidate without a reputation check. However, when I started working, the work was not at the level of an intern. When I found out later, the previous company’s reputation was the worst. I really felt the need for a reputation check.” (Responses to the ‘Reference check, do you do it or not?’ survey)


Recruitment is really difficult. No matter how carefully you look at resumes and career descriptions and conduct multiple interviews, it is not easy to find out about an applicant’s work abilities and interpersonal relationships in a short period of time. So, the procedure used is a reputation check (reference check).


At one time, it was thought that reputation checks were mainly used when recruiting high-ranking positions such as executives, but as career recruitment has become more active, it is now widely used when recruiting working-level employees. With the emergence of startups specializing in reputation searches, costs have lowered and methods have become more diverse. In fact, in a survey conducted by a job portal in 2022 targeting personnel recruiters from 639 companies, 59% responded that they ‘check references when hiring employees.’


As reputation check experience increases, controversy is rising among office workers. This is because concerns have been raised about its effectiveness or side effects, contrary to the opinion that it is a necessary procedure. There is even a saying that ‘a company that conducts reputation checks is a company that secretly conducts background checks.’


From a hiring standpoint, it is a weapon that one does not want to give up. However, if not done properly, reputation checks are a double-edged sword that, rather than hiring the right talent, can tarnish the company’s image and even lead to legal problems. What do office workers think? If we know the problems they think about, wouldn’t we be able to get hints on how to proceed? We asked office workers their thoughts on reputation checks. 410 office workers responded.



Reference check ‘necessary vs unnecessary’ mixed responses




The most common reason for needing a reputation check was ‘to check personality, interpersonal relationships, etc.’ (29.15%). There were quite a few responses that said, ‘It is difficult to make an accurate evaluation using only resumes and interviews’ (20.99%) and that it was necessary to ‘check the contents of resumes (career descriptions)’ (20.12%). In other responses, there was an opinion that it was necessary ‘to confirm risks that can be concealed, such as facts related to various crimes.’


Mr. A, who was of the opinion that it was ‘necessary,’ responded, “It is difficult to believe everything an applicant says, and there is a high possibility that an evaluation made by multiple people will be fairer. From the company’s perspective, a method is needed to reduce hiring risks.”


On the other hand, as for the ‘unnecessary reason’, there were quite a few people who thought that ‘even if something unfair happens in the company, there are cases where it is overlooked due to concerns about reputation’ (32.16%). There were also concerns that ‘the evaluation was made by a small number of people, so it is not accurate’ (31.6%) and that ‘there is a high risk of rumors of turnover spreading’ (19.73%). There were not many people who thought it was unnecessary because ‘resume and interview are enough’ (5.68%).


Mr. B, who took the position that it was ‘unnecessary’, said, “It doesn’t look good because it seems like they are giving the impression that they are looking into the applicant’s back while causing damage or inconvenience to the applicant during the employment process.” Mr. C expressed, “When I first started working, I think I was a person who could say, ‘It’s not true,’ but when it came time to change jobs, I was worried about the results of the reputation check.”



How trustworthy can you be? 6 out of 10 “I don’t trust”




So, when is the most inconvenient situation while conducting a reputation check? The largest number of respondents chose ‘proceeding without the applicant’s consent’ (31.61%). Many people responded that they were uncomfortable with ‘requesting verification from someone I did not designate’ (22.03%) or ‘having to designate a reputation verifier within my current workplace’ (16.48%).


Reputation checks without consent may result in legal issues. However, there still seemed to be many cases where the process was carried out without consent. Among those who have experienced reputation checks, 34.29% said they were ‘not informed’ about whether reputation checks were conducted.


Mr. C, who experienced a reputation check during the process of changing jobs, said, “They told me to write an evaluator and submit it, and then I contacted those people and asked them to recommend people who were not on the list, so I checked their reputation.” “I had an uncomfortable experience hearing that they had been on the phone for over an hour,” he said.


If you receive a request to check your reputation, how accurately will you respond? When contacted to check the reputation of a co-worker, more than half of them (57.96%) said, ‘I only tell them good things possible.’ Less than half of them (42.04%) said they accurately evaluate pros and cons. Perhaps for this reason, there were more people who ‘did not trust’ the reputation search results (62.07%) than those who ‘trusted’ them (37.93%).


Mr. D said, “I think the evaluation can vary depending on the company atmosphere and working environment, etc.,” and added, “It is questionable how trustworthy the results of the reputation search can be.” Mr. E also said, “I think it is difficult to trust because it is impossible to check just by looking at the answer whether it is a positive evaluation based on a close relationship or a malicious evaluation based on personal feelings.”


It seems clear that the results speak for themselves. There was no major disagreement that there were limitations in identifying talent through documents and interviews alone. What is inconvenient is the side effects that occur during the process rather than the reputation search itself.


In the end, the solution is to secure procedural legitimacy through consent and proceed delicately to avoid harm to applicants. Mr. F, an office worker, said, “Reputation checks seem to be a necessary evil,” and added, “It would be nice if there were clear legal guidelines that the industry could share.”





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About Michael Steven

I am a news writer, editor and journalist with more than 13 years of experience. I have an MA in Journalism and have published work in various publications around the world. With me, you don't have to worry about copyright and defamation issues or being punished by search engines. You get original work that complies with media laws. Communication: I really prioritize good communication with clients, from their expectations to the initial plan and vision of the project in particular. Tell me what you want - even down to the level of 'how' you want it written. Nonetheless, I must note that self-expression is very important to me and I hope to reach a solution together with the client but not at the expense of the quality of the finished product.

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