Letters of recommendation or job references have a large influence on shortlisting

Just came across a study by Lynne Clune that I supervised. It followed a selection process examining the relationship between ratings given by recruiters to candidate resumes, to candidate interviews (on video) and candidate letters of recommendation (LORS) aka references. It involved about 40 recruiters judging candidate applications in a real employment setting. The results were very interesting.

First: Good quality resumes, interviews and LORs were given higher overall ratings than other combinations.
Second: Results for the ranking of preferences showed that good resumes, interviews and LORs were likely to be ranked first and the poor resumes, interviews and LORs ranked last.
Third: In order to get a good overall rating a candidate needs both a good resume AND a good interview. It seems you cant make up for a weak resume with a strong interview and vice versa.
Fourth: A good LOR will result in a good overall rating and conversely a poor LOR a poor overall rating REGARDLESS OF THE RESUME OR INTERVIEW.

Question: Are we focussing to much of our advice and coaching on resume and interview preparation when we should be spending more time coaching candidates in how to a) nurture a positive employment reputation and b) how to directly manage relationships with referees to maximise positive references. We all know about Search Engine Optimisation, can I suggest we now need Referee Engagement Optimisation?

One day I will get around to publishing the full study in a peer-reviewed journal, but I thought I’d share this with you at this time.


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