Jessica is an HR assistant in a fast growing logistics company.

The company employs just over 500 people currently and the HR Director is expecting around 100 new hires during the next 12 months due to company growth, plus a further 60 recruits for natural turnover.

One of Jessica's many responsibilities is to check the references of all new employees.

Each of these new recruits will need to have their last 5 years' employment history checked. Additionally any gaps in the employee's history of over 14 days will require checking and confirming by a personal referee. All reference checks must be done to this standard to comply with Department for Transport regulations and a copy of the references must be kept on file for audit purposes.


Scenario 1

Week 1, Monday

Jessica is given a paper application form that the employee, Sam, completed at his interview. The employee has stated he worked for 3 employers during the period, but hasn't put down any contact details or months when he worked.

Jessica's first task is to try and find addresses and phone and fax numbers for these employees. She Googles them and manages to get phone numbers for two of them fairly quickly. She rings the first, (Multi-National Conglomerate Plc) and gets through to an automated system. 10 minutes later she is still on hold. She has a report to do for her manager, so, with a sigh, she hangs up, intending to call later.

The second employer (Fred Bloggs and Son) is still at the address and helpfully gives her the fax number so she can send over the reference request. The third employer has been put down on the application form as 'Sainsburys', with no address for the store, so she will need to speak to Sam to find out this information in order to issue the reference request. She leaves a message on his voicemail requesting a call back with the information.

Out of the three initial references, she can send out just one so far, so she opens up her word document for the employment reference request letter and changes all the required fields on the letter (employees name, NI number, address for the referee etc) and then emails it off to the company.

The other two references will just have to wait until later.

Towards the end of the day, Jessica calls the multi-national company's automated system and is on hold – eventually reaching '4th in the queue' before hanging up as the 15 minutes she has been waiting have taken her well past the end of the day. Sam has not called back...

Week 1, Tuesday

The next morning begins well. Jessica gets through on the automated system after 10 minutes and is given a number for the company's HR department. She calls and is given an email address, so once again she opens up the reference request letter on her PC and types in the new details, before sending off the request.

Sam has still not called. He starts next Monday, so hopefully Jessica will get a response before then. She puts a note in her diary to call him again if he's not rung her back by the morning.

Week 1, Wednesday

Jessica hasn't had any replies back as yet from the two references she's sent out so far. She's in meetings for most of the day today so hasn't got a great deal of time to pull out his file and call the referees. She will definitely chase them up in the morning. (Sam's still not called).

Week 1, Thursday

Jessica has a little time to try and sort out Sam's references this morning. She calls him about Sainsburys and leaves another message, stressing the urgency of the situation. She rings the first referee who is unable to find the emai she sent, so she resends the one she sent on day 1. She calls to confirm that it has been received. The other reference that she has issued has been received and she is informed that she will have a response within 5 working days.

Week 1, Friday

When she arrives at work, Jessica finds the first reference sitting in her inbox. A third of the way there! Sam has still not called, but she will be able to catch him at his desk when he starts on Monday.

Week 2, Monday

Sam worked at the Deptford branch of Sainsburys. He was on holiday in Ibiza last week and apologises for not replying... He will call his accountant and ask him to return the reference.

Jessica finds the number for Sainsburys, calls and is given a fax number as they don't have an email address at the store. Once again, she changes the details on her reference request letter, types up a fax header and sends off the reference.

Week 2, Tuesday

Jessica calls and checks with Sainsburys. They have received the reference request and will return it as soon as possible.

Week 2, Thursday

Jessica receives a letter in the post from the multi-national company apologising that they are unable to locate Sam on their system and that he may have been temping with them. Jessica rings Sam, who informs her that he worked via Manpower in Blackheath. Jessica goes onto the Manpower website and finds the phone & email details for the Blackheath branch. She does the necessary with the paperwork and emails it. Sainsbury's have apparently posted back a reply.

Week 3, Monday

The Sainsburys reference is in the post. The Manpower reference arrives by email during the morning. All Jessica has to do now is check if there are any gaps. She sits with a pad and pen and writes down all the periods accounted for in chronological order.

Oh dear - there is a 6 month gap between the first and second references and almost a year between the second and third.

Jessica calls Sam. He was travelling in the first gap, so she will need to get a personal reference to cover this. The second gap, as it turns out, he was working, self-employed as a salesman. He did however have an accountant, so he gives the address details to Jessica. She can't find any contact numbers (he's a family friend who has now retired and was doing Sam's books as a favour). As she has no letter template for an accountant, she has to write him a letter. 20 minutes later, she puts it into an envelope and pops it in the post tray.

Sam has also supplied details of a 'gap' referee. Jessica emails a request to the referee.

Week 3, Thursday

Neither of these two remaining references has been returned yet. Jessica sends a second request to the gap referee by email.

Week 4, Monday

Jessica calls Sam and asks him to contact both referees to ask them if they can return the references.

Week 4, Wednesday

The accountant's reference is in the post. Nearly there!

Week 4, Friday

Jessica emails the personal referee for a third time

Week 5, Tuesday

The personal referee returns the reference.

Jessica double checks that all the references are OK and puts them into Sam's file with a note saying that they are now complete.

This is just one of nine files Jessica is currently working on! No wonder she has very little time and is often stressed, the referencing is so slow and time-consuming. If only there was a better way!


Scenario 2

Week 1, Monday

Jessica logs in to her lovely new IScreenYouScreen database system. A new employee, Sam, has spent around ten minutes completing an on-line referencing form and all his details are available to Jessica including company names and locations for the entire 5 year period she needs to check.

The details for all three of his employers plus contact details for his accountant and a personal referee are included on her system. Sam has put the contact details for the agency he worked at whilst at (Multi-National Conglomerate Plc) as the on-line form ensured that he only gave these details by helpfully reminding him to supply agency details if he was temping!

With a couple of clicks of her mouse, Jessica has emailed two of the employment reference requests to their respective HR departments and has issued a self-employment request to Sam's accountant (the IScreenYouScreen database includes address, email, phone and fax details of over 100,000 HR departments) based on the information Sam has provided via the ISYS database.

The third employer (Fred Bloggs and Sons) is not on the ISYS database, so Jessica googles this employer who helpfully gives her their email address so she can send over the reference request. She adds these details to the database. (An ISYS consultant will verify these details, then add them to the database for future users).

Within 10 minutes, all four employment references have been issued.

Week 1, Tuesday

Jessica logs in to the ISYS database. Her daily 'to do' list is displayed, reminding her to call the three employers and confirm that the references have been received. One has not been received, so she resends it and calls to check it has arrived. It also asks her to check with them when they will be able to return the references and to ask them to send via fax or email if possible. All three of them promise to complete and send back quickly, so she tasks them for a call on Thursday afternoon if she has not received them.

Week 1, Wednesday

Jessica's in meetings for most of the day today so hasn't got a great deal of time to follow up references today. The Manpower reference and the Fred Bloggs & Son reference are both sitting on the fax when she returns for lunch, so she quickly updates them on the system.

Week 1, Thursday

The reference from Sainsburys is in the post. She updates this on the system and sends the personal reference out as she is now aware of the exact dates of the gap when Sam was travelling by using the automatic GapChecker feature of ISYS which shows her all gaps longer than 14 days (GapChecker can be set to whatever length of gap individual companies require).

Week 1, Friday

Although she hasn't received the accountant's reference, Jessica is aware that Sam starts on Monday, so she will have her first conversation with him then and ask him to chase up this reference. She has no references to chase for Sam today!

Week 2, Monday

Sam had a lovely time in Ibiza last week and is ready and raring to go in his new job! Jessica asks if he wouldn't mind checking if his accountant has been able to deal with the reference and if his personal referee could pop the email back to her confirming his travelling. Sam promises to call them both today.

Week 2, Tuesday

Sam emails Jessica to let her know that the accountant posted the reference back yesterday and that his personal referee will email back today.

During the afternoon, the personal reference arrives. Jessica logs it on the database.

Week 2, Wednesday

The accountant's reference is in the post, so Jessica can log this onto the system. A final check of the gaps utilising the GapChecker feature of ISYS ensures that all periods have been covered to meet Department for Transport regulations.

Jessica generates a chronological report showing the full 5 year referencing on ISYS which she prints off and puts with his references.

Not only has Sam's file been completed in less than 40% of the time, but Jessica's involvement in the process has been massively reduced. She has made 5 short phone calls instead of 13 short and 3 lengthy calls previously. No time has been wasted typing letters and fax headers as this is all an automatic process. Very little time has been spent 'researching' addresses/phone & fax numbers as ISYS contains the vast majority of large HR departments in the UK and tens of thousands of smaller companies, schools, colleges and benefit agencies! GapChecker has saved Jessica from sitting with a pen and paper trying to calculate gap dates.

Sam has spent no longer completing his form than if he were writing it down on a paper form, however the information he has been prompted to provide is extremely accurate and Jessica does not even need to type his details into the system!

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