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One thing you should never outsource

I’ve just been through a bizarre interaction over a reference I was asked to provide for someone interviewing for a new role. The person in question – let’s call him Chris – asked me if I would be a referee and I was more than happy to oblige. He’s young and talented and would be an asset to any business.
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Chris worded me up he’d be putting my name down as a referee and told me to expect a call early this week. Not a problem, I said, and waited for the phone to ring.

So yesterday I received a basically inaudible message from someone who I assume was in the Philippines. After listening to the message numerous times I picked up the caller’s name, but couldn’t for the life of me make out the number she wanted me to “message”.

I rang Chris and told him this, so he could tell the HR department recruiting for the role. I didn’t want to jeopardise his chances of getting the role just because I couldn’t understand the message.

Soon after, I got another missed call – no message left – from an overseas number, as well as a missed FaceTime audio call. I didn’t realise you could do audio calls on FaceTime, but it’s no doubt a cheap (read: free) way for the Philippines business to phone people in Australia.

The first call from the Philippines that actually reached me after three failed attempts came just as I was about to walk into a meeting. I told the caller to ring back at 3pm when I would be free.

While I was in the meeting I must have missed five more calls from them. One caller left a voicemail, and this time I could understand the number she wanted me to “message” – it was a landline. I tried to send an SMS – my understanding of the term “message” is to send an SMS – but of course it couldn’t be delivered.

At this point they’d wasted about an hour of my time trying to figure out how to get back to them. They did not call back at 3pm. To say I was starting to feel frustrated is somewhat of an understatement.

I finally figured out they didn’t want me to message them at all, they wanted me to return their call, which I did. I spent about five minutes giving Chris a glowing reference. Which is lucky for him, as I could easily have allowed this maddening experience to colour my recommendation, the result being a less than positive reference for someone who doesn’t deserve a bad rap.

I’ve given a lot of references in my time, but this experience was surreal. I could have been anyone calling in to give Chris a reference – they had no way of verifying my identity, especially as I called them, not the other way around.

During the call, I received the impression my interviewer had only a basic grasp of English. I found it hard to understand what he was asking. Questions I had already answered were asked repeatedly. It was a shambles. And this is the information the business will rely on to appoint someone to the company?

I suggested to Chris afterwards that he seek a copy of the transcript because I do not have any confidence the information I gave will be correctly transmitted to the business doing the hiring.

I’m gobsmacked that a local business would offshore such an important function, reference checking, to people who obviously don’t have the right experience. Outsourcing and offshoring are fantastic for simple, repetitive tasks such as data entry but I cannot see how they are suitable for this type of more complex work.

Keep this in mind if you run a small business and you’re considering outsourcing or offshoring, which can be extremely attractive on the face of it in terms of cutting costs and freeing up the business owner’s time to focus on revenue-generating activities.

Don’t outsource anything that has the potential to damage your business’ reputation. As a result of this experience, I now think the management of the business hiring Chris doesn’t have a clue, whereas previously I thought it was a pretty tight ship.

Let’s hope this process doesn’t mean the business gets an inaccurate picture of what Chris has to offer, or that he misses out on the job as a result of the recruiter’s incompetence. If they don’t hire him, they will be missing out on someone who’s destined to be a shooting star; their loss and a gain for a more sensible rival business.

What can you offshore and what should you do in-house? Would you offshore recruitment?

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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