Home Management Matters This human resource tech start-up makes candidate referencing easier and faster

This human resource tech start-up makes candidate referencing easier and faster


The human resource tech space is going through a fascinating period of evolution, as new businesses continue come to market. But it is also under increasing scrutiny as a handful of seemingly promising startups have come unstuck of late.

The success that Xref has seen comes down to the fact that it addresses a real problem and provides a genuinely valuable solution.

Xref, at its core, is an automated, cloud-based candidate referencing platform – that in itself is a major win for its clients in terms of the time and money they save on resources otherwise wasted on calling and chasing referees.

However, Xref also offers real additional value through a more accurate and secure data collection process, which allows recruiters, hiring managers and HR leaders to focus more on adding strategic value.

Where does Xref fit in the business world?

Each year, 15 per cent of Australia’s 11.9 million strong workforce change jobs. The last thing that occurs before a candidate successfully fills a role is the reference check. That’s more than 1.5 million people, and a potential of up to 3 million references. Reference checking is a big and essential element of the hiring process but it’s a significant pain point for the industry.

The traditional method used by recruiters and HR managers is slow, expensive and fraught with risk – not only that, it often provides inaccurate, inconsistent and unreliable data. There’s also a significant threat of human error in reference checking, given the conversational nature of the process.

“At Xref we often see recruiters taking references without candidates’ consent, unwittingly asking discriminatory questions and recording details incorrectly. It’s more common than many companies would realise,” says CEO and co-founder Lee-Martin Seymour.

The process is further slowed by the lack of incentive for the referee to provide feedback. In theory, people are happy to offer a reference, but they are often hard to pin down. Xref gives referees flexibility in how – and when – they provide their responses.

“We see Xref as a solution that addresses a key pain point for an industry that was ready for disruption. We arrived with the right solution, at the right time, in the right place.”

How exactly is Xref shaking up the HR scene?

Xref is a secure, automated reference-checking process that provides clients with faster and more accurate collection of candidate feedback. In other words, it is a business solution, helping organisations hire better talent, more often.

The Xref process starts when a recruiter or hiring manager requests a reference through the online Xref interface, which takes around 30 seconds to complete.

Requests are sent directly to the candidate to provide the details of their referees, who are then contacted via email and can provide feedback on the secure, online portal, at a time that suits them.

The Xref platform then analyses referee responses and develops a full detailed report which is sent back to the recruiter or hiring manager. The average turnaround time for this is approximately 24 hours.

About this convenience, Seymour says, “The flexibility and convenience of the Xref interface has been critical to our success – 98 per cent of all reference requests from Xref are completed, and 45 per cent are completed outside of work hours.”

Xref is going against essentially anyone who is collecting or requesting a traditional reference or reference check (i.e. over the phone).

However, what makes Xref unique is the process. It is driven by the candidate, who is motivated to lead the communication with their referees and encourage timely responses from them.

This takes away the time-consuming chasing process that typically increases the turnaround time for reference responses and gets the candidate into their new role more quickly.

Who are the minds behind Xref?

This start-up was launched in 2009 by Seymour and Tim Griffiths.

Seymour was working in HR – he told Anthill that he had a happy and successful career, but always felt that something was missing in the industry to make it even better.

He linked up with Griffiths – with whom he had an existing professional relationship having previously placed him in contract roles for companies that needed a technology expert to lead IT transformation projects – and worked on a tech based solution to the niggling problems, particularly fake references, he experienced as an HR professional.

“Having built careers as specialists in our fields of HR and technology, Tim and I recognised the opportunity to utilise our experience and expertise and develop a solution to one of the HR industry’s most significant pain points,” Seymour told us.

Xref has achieved 100 percent growth year-on-year since launch, and there are currently more than 350 companies using the service. The flexibility of the service means the company has clients from more than 26 different sectors, including Westpac, Qantas, Hudson, Mission Australia, APG & Co., Life Without Barriers and Australian Super.

The company is headquartered in Sydney, and growth over the past five years has seen us expand to London, Toronto, Singapore and New Zealand. What began as a “two man band” has now grown to 28 full-time staff.

Listed on the ASX earlier this year in February, Xref is destined for further international growth with Seymour at the helm as CEO and Griffiths as CTO.