Golden Business Ideas

How to Check References

Some job seekers craft their resumes with the same creative energy they would apply to writing a novel. And ferreting out fact from fiction takes skill and persistence. Here are some useful tips to uncover resume-doctoring:
n Early in the job interview, warn candidates that you intend to check their references carefully. It may be too late to affect any resume inflation, but at least it may inspire them to be especially careful about pumping up references’ assessments.

Just because a business associate highly recommends a candidate, don’t short-cut reference checking. Friends sometimes don’t mention unpleasant information about their buddies.

Confirm educational credentials. It just takes a call to the school.

If you’re a CFO or a controller, call your counterpart at the candidates’ former employers—even if that person was not the candidate’s immediate boss.

If a candidate gives Jane Smith as a reference, ask Jane for the names of several others you can speak with. While such networking will ensure you have gone beyond the references coached by the candidates, the method is not foolproof. You may even stumble on a person who has a grudge against the candidates; so be ready to discount their comments.

Some organizations hesitate to give any references for fear of lawsuits. If you face that problem, make it clear that you will have to tell the candidate that you can’t hire him or her without a reference. That may prompt a former employer to be more forthcoming.

Avoid the Hiring Trap

Work teams are becoming a popular management strategy because they tend to perform complex tasks more effectively. But there is one task that you shouldn’t assign them: deciding on a new hire for the team.

Reason: They often are reluctant to hire top performers because they may feel threatened by the candidate, worrying that the new person could outshine them and challenge current practices.

A better approach: Consult with teams about a new hire but don’t give them the final decision.

Learn To Say Good-bye

We’ve all had the uncomfortable experience of being in a lengthy conversation with someone who just won’t let you go. Rather than being abrupt and giving offense, try this tactic: Say the person’s name (people love to hear their names spoken and often pause when they hear it), say something nice about what they said, and then, without pausing for a breath, explain you have a time constraint that prevents you from hearing more. Then suggest some vague future time to talk again.

Credit Department Performance

Don’t use the conventional method to assess the effectiveness of your credit department—days sales outstanding (DSO). It’s too sensitive to factors that are beyond the department’s control, such as changes in sales terms.

Instead, use changes in the days delinquent sales outstanding (CDDSO). That’s a yardstick that directly measures the department’s work.

An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.


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