When a student graduates from nursing school, that graduate has essentially the same nursing skills as any other recent graduate. What makes one new nurse relevant to the workforce is experience. What makes a new nurse marketable is visibility.

That’s where Richard McGravie sees online reference-checking tools like aRefChex making an invaluable contribution to employees and employers alike.

As a mentor at the tech-startup accelerator tekMountain and a management consultant at CastleBranch, the Fortune 500 leader in background checking and compliance, McGravie stands at the confluence of two cresting streams: education technology (particularly relevant today to nursing) and HR tech. You can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about aRefChex — now partnered with CastleBranch — because, with a patent pending on its HRIS design, aRefChex unites both streams, offering an unparalleled value proposition: automated reference checking as part of the hiring process by using “the only HR-compliant reference-checking software out there.” That’s to say, “aRefChex is the only automated employment verification and reference checking system designed to meet the requirements mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” according to its website.

aRefChex lives in an HR tech space that is rapidly widening in opportunities for innovators and investors. The expansion of talent analytics and integration of HR technologies is often cited among the major trends of importance in 2016, leveraging everyday data into “recruiting intelligence.”

With investment in HR tech in 2015 at windfall levels, it should be no surprise that cloud-based SaaS solutions for HR information systems is where the action is.

According to CB Insights, “Funding growth aside, deal volume also increased significantly in 2015 reaching close to 400 deals, when 2014 had ended at under 300 deals. […] Total funding to the space in 2015 hit $2.4B across 383 deals representing 62% growth in funding over the total in 2014.”


Cloud-based HRMs are nothing new, yet according to Brad Mandacina, director of the HR Technology & Outsourcing practice at Lockton Companies, they’re still in the early-adopter stage.

In its 2015-2016 HR Systems Survey white paper surveying more than 1,000 employers with more than 50 employees, the global consulting company Mercer reported that the tipping point has been reached: Over 50 percent of purchased core HRMs are now SaaS solutions.

Capturing experience

McGravie says that with aRefChex, “Actual experiences are captured by the tool, so they can be shared.” aRefChex combines data from the marketplace, from schools and employers, to create a complete portrait of the candidate in a single location.

aRefChex “automatically verifies work history, experience and past performance by collecting reference feedback from a candidate’s human-resource reference, managers, peers, subordinates, work associates and personal references,” according to a company brochure. Utilized during the hiring process, the aRefChex performance-related feedback can help determine which candidate is the best hire.

Kevin Anhault, CEO of aRefChex, says, “The sooner aRefChex is utilized, the higher the return on investment because it saves time.” Anhault has more than 20 years in the human-resource industry with extensive experience in screening applicants, pre-employment assessments, and interviewing training. He manages aRefChex along with Shawn Matthews a 25-year, software-engineering veteran with more than 10 years’ experience delivering HR-related solutions.

Together they recognized a fundamental truth: Whether the user is a background-screening professional, corporate staffing professional, HR technology partner, or an individual job seeker, all share the common need for employment-and-reference checking, albeit at differing stages in the hiring process.

How aRefChex works

  1. The employer invites the candidate to provide verification information and references.
  2. The candidate electronically signs FCRA-required documents and invites managers, HR references and peers by email and SMS messages to verify the candidate’s employment history on all job-related criteria — knowledge, skills, abilities (a.k.a. KSAs) — verifying the candidate’s competencies. “The convenience of email and SMS text messages,” Anhault says, “provides us a very high response rate — 50 to 70 percent more responses than telephone calls.”
  3. Former managers and HR officers review the candidate’s requests and respond.
  4. A consumer reporting agency monitors the process and progress.
  5. aRefChex generates a consolidated, in-depth verification and reference-feedback report. This is similar to a performance review by highlighting the new hire’s strengths and weaknesses — something like a “verified resume.”
  6. If required, an FCRA-mandated Adverse Action is initiated, facilitated and tracked.

An added benefit of the report is that it helps the employer prepare a training and development program tailored to the new hiree, speeding the onboarding process.

The “farm-to-wok” restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s is one of aRefChex clients. At one time experiencing a high turnover of head chefs, the restaurant needed a new way to discover who are the best chefs within a large pool of candidates and who would best fit the restaurant’s philosophy and standards. Rather than merely collect an array of resumes, P.F. Chang’s turned to aRefChex, which built a profile of the ideal chef against which candidates could be mapped. Now the restaurant filters all applicants through aRefChex’s profile tool, an innovation that is applicable to any industry.

The HR transformation away from hard-copy resumes, spreadsheets, and phoned-in reference checks is a harbinger of faster onboarding, better employer-candidate fit, and improved ROI. For innovators, investors and entrepreneurs seeking the cutting edge of HR tech, CastleBranch, aRefChex, and tekMountain bring this kind of innovation, passion and performance to every launch. Learn more by contacting us today.

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