That references form an integral prerequisite of the recruitment process is a given. Never have I employed a member of staff - even one below stairs - without first availing myself of their moral standards, willingness to adhere to rules and personal principles via a preceding employer. Should a prospective Chambermaid harbour any distasteful flaws, or Under Housekeeper endeavour to conceal a dishonest defect or two, then I expect to unearth such transgressions for, doubtless, such minutiae will play an important role in influencing my decision whether or not to offer the candidate a coveted position at Farthing Hall.
A lack of referees accompanying a job application, therefore, invokes an air of suspicion on my part. I am, you see, in the process of replacing a Scullery Maid. The previous occupant fulfilled her obligations admirably but has decided on an adjustment to her career. The Antipodes beckons, apparently. The notion of journeying with little more than a rucksack was touched upon during her exit interview for why any young lady would choose to voyage without the assurance of a silk lined leather trunk and hotel in which afternoon tea takes precedence over bar based entertainment, eludes me.
Still, her decision made, I at once contacted Quality Appointments to The Gentry Agency. Disappointingly, their initial candidates bordered on mediocre. Clearly my demand for someone with experience went unnoticed. Cleansing and scouring may, to the unversed, be unskilled tasks but I venture that attention to detail, not to mention physical robustness, is essential in fulfilling my expectations.
A second batch did, I confess, reflect a modicum of improvement, at least in terms of basic competence. Yet I note several Curriculum Vitae failed to list referees.
Should such a transgression prompt me to conclude this to be their first such appointment or, rather, that a prior role was so inadequately executed to deny the appearance of a testimonial?
Further calls to the Agency proved to be unduly lengthy and simultaneously frustrating. I insisted I had no intention of inviting candidates for interview without prior sight of a hand written endorsement. Twice during our exchange the telephone line clicked into inaction forcing me to redial whilst making a mental note to contact the Telephone Exchange. I will report the fault later.
Meanwhile, this negative encounter has impelled me to bypass agencies. Instead, I will rely on my society equals. Hopefully they will either recommend an alternative organisation - one which still prides itself on established values - or even be in a position to personally recommend a replacement.
If there is one thing that this debacle has proved, it is that ideals and expectations rarely infiltrate the class divide.