Verifying a reference

Great news, you've been notified that someone has provided a character reference for one of your applicants. Good work! Give yourself a pat on the back (it's unlikely anyone else will!).

(Can't remember how to get a character reference for an applicant? Click here to see how).

Best practice (and most policies and procedures) on character references requires a volunteer manager / organisation administrator to take one further step. (For more on the role of references in general, see here).

Once you receive a character reference for an applicant, then having reviewed the reference, you have two choices:

  1. You can file the character reference away (“job done”); or
  2. You can validate the information given in the reference by picking up the phone and speaking to the person who provided the reference.

Different organisations take different approaches here. The decision is for your own organisation.

In Complyfile, the action an Administrator takes to 'approve' or 'verify' a reference, is to click the tick button on the face of the relevant Referee card:

  • On the dashboard, go to To Do > References
  • Find the referee card you want to approve
  • Click the tick button
  • Look for the pop-up toaster message to confirm the action you took
  • See the History Record created (on the dashboard, on the Administrator's own profile page, and on the page of the volunteer in respect of whom the reference is given)

Accidental verification/approval of a reference

Clicking the verify button removes the card from the To Do > References section. It will still appear on the volunteer's profile page, in the Referees area. However, if you accidentally verified/approved a reference, you can 'undo' it from the History Record on the home page, so long as it you do so within a few minutes of the accidental approval/verification. If you can't, simply message us through the chat widget and we will arrange to restore it for you. See this article: How to undo an action in your To Do workflow

The validation of a character reference – whether it by phoning the referee, or in a face-to-face conversation, does take more effort.

Not all volunteer managers are comfortable phoning people up and discussing a reference given. 

But the potential downsides of being pushed out of your comfort zone as a volunteer manager (speaking to strangers, the hassle of missed calls with a referee etc), are outweighed by the upsides of having that conversation and validating the information given.

More often than not, you’ll learn more in a brief conversation with the referee than in a written reference – the majority of the time confirming your interpretation of the reference provided.

On very rare occasions a person giving a reference may express a view on the phone or face to face that they might be reluctant to put down in writing – for that reason alone, the verification follow up with the referee tends to be viewed as worth the effort.

A neat way of handling this in your Complyfile is to use a pro-forma template Reference Verification Phonecall Checklist.

You'll probably want to create a new Document Type and call it something like "Completed Reference Verification Phonecall Checklist".  (Click here for a reminder on why your Document Types are important).

It essentially acts as a trigger, reflecting the questions you asked of the person in the character reference form. 

If you want to keep a record of having made the follow-up call, you can then choose to upload your Reference Verification Phonecall Checklist against your applicant/volunteer's profile page.

Don't forget toset the Visibility Setting to "Administrator Only" unless it's a document to be viewable by the applicant as well!

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