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How we seek employment references

  • The County Council seeks employment references in order to provide a factual check on a candidate’s employment history and experience, and to help confirm the candidate’s suitability for the job they have applied for.
  • As standard, we request the contact details of two referees from all applicants: their current, or most recent employer and a second employer. If you have not previously been employed, are self-employed, or have only worked for a single employer, please provide contact details for an academic and/or a character referee. In addition, where your application indicates you have worked for the County Council before, we may also seek a reference from your former line manager.
  • For some posts covered by more rigorous safer recruitment standards, such as those in Children’s’ Residential Services, we reserve the right to contact any and all previous employers.
  • References are generally taken up after interview. For some posts, such as those in Children’s’ Residential Services and teaching staff in schools, references may be sought at an earlier stage. Candidates that state they do not wish us to contact their referees prior to interview will not be penalised in any way. The exception is candidates applying for residential posts in Children’s Services whereby given the nature of these services, candidates cannot refuse permission for the County Council to contact their referees prior to interview.
  • To ensure authenticity and accuracy, we seek references direct from the referee, and cannot accept open references or those addressed ‘to whom it may concern’
  • Our standard reference pro forma asks for confirmation of job title and employment dates, the referee’s views on your suitability for the post, and any warnings/disciplinaries. For people that will be working with children or vulnerable adults, we also ask the referee to provide any information they have concerning convictions for the candidate under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exemptions) (Amendments) Order 1986.
  • If we seek a reference prior to a conditional offer of employment being made, this will not include questions about sickness absence or medical history. However, we will confirm absence dates with your referees after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
  • There will be some occasions where recruiting managers take up telephone references, for example where the preferred candidate can start immediately and a quick response from the referee is required to avoid unnecessary delays, or in other circumstances where it is more pragmatic to take this approach. In these circumstances, the recruiting manager will ensure that the reference is factual, and that clear written notes are made.
  • All references must be kept confidential at all times. This means they will only be disclosed to colleagues directly involved in the recruitment process or involved in the administration of an employee’s contract of employment. Where a referee supplies a reference on a confidential basis, the Council cannot disclose the reference to an applicant.
  • For more information about the information we process as part of the recruitment process and beyond, please see our privacy notices for job applicants and employees.