The Jemena Talent Story – breaking through reference check bottlenecks

About Jemena:
Jemena owns and operates a diverse portfolio of energy and water transportation assets across the east coast of Australia. With more than $12 billion worth of major utility infrastructure, we supply millions of households and businesses with essential services every day.


Jemena had a Talent Acquisition (TA) team that was largely reactive thus leading to frustration as it sought to become more consultative and proactive. Additionally, working in a “job filling” environment was leading to disengagement and impacting on the team’s reputation as they were viewed as more administrative focused rather than helping move the organisation forward by sourcing great Talent.

So we sought to reduce the TA Advisers’ involvement in the recruitment process so they had the ability/potential to invest their time in the right activities. We process mapped the end to end recruitment cycle to identify areas where we could eliminate or reduce activities along with understanding what could be automated.

We made a number of changes along the way but one area we found particularly challenging to resolve was our reference checking process. It was labour intensive and was the main bottleneck in our hiring process. A typical reference check could take anything from one to five business days to complete and it was really holding us back.


We decided to explore the possibility of implementing new technology to assist us with the reference checking process, with the eventual aim of speeding up our hiring process.

Previously, our TA Advisers would have to go through the list of referees manually and ringing them up individually for a reference which was a very time consuming process.

With technology, it gave us the opportunity to reduce the time taken to conduct a reference check and allow our people to spend more time on other more important tasks such as ensuring a great candidate experience.


We spoke to a number of firms who have online reference checking tools. Post-consultation and trialing, we selected Checkster as our preferred option due to a number of factors:

  • Integration into SuccessFactors (our current ATS)
  • High level of customisation available
  • Additional features (e.g. 360 surveys, exit survey, quality of hire checks)

Post selecting a preferred partner, a business case was created and presented to the relevant internal stakeholders outlining the benefits of automating our reference check process, including:

  • Reduce overall time to fill
  • Speed up offer management process (which is essential in a competitive market)
  • Reduce administrative burden for TA Advisers
  • Easy to access and centralized repository for reference checks
  • Independent and impartial collation of information
  • Create a pool of potential new applicants (the referees)


The response has been impressive and the process has been well received by both our people leaders and future employees (applicants). The average reference check process is now completed in one day and 3 hours, when previously it could take anything from one to five days.

OUR %$#@ UP

The one aspect I’d do differently next time is engaging all the relevant and potentially interested internal parties from early on in the process. Our Legal and IT Commercial teams expressed some valid concerns once involved and this could have been nullified if they had been introduced earlier on to the potential vendor.

That said, the only impact was a slight delay in signing contracts.


Reference checks are a burdensome task and typically a tick and flick exercise. Automating the process has saved significant time and not impacted on the quality of our hires or integrity of the recruitment process. It is professional, slick and any fears of it not been well received by the audience have proved to be unfounded.

One unintentional bonus has been the greater candidness of the referees responses and the additional information they have provided.

Do you have a Talent story to share? Drop us a note at with a brief summary and we’ll get back to you!

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