Verifying Employment History: Best Practices 7 Feb 2018


How do you know everything you’re reading on a candidate’s job application and resume is the truth? The answer is, you don’t. It’s no bombshell to any hiring manager that applicants stretch the truth or sometimes outright lie on their resumes, but a survey by CareerBuilder proved it, with 58 percent of employers reporting they have caught a lie on a resume.

Not only can it cause headaches if you hire someone who is not completely qualified for the job, but there’s also the lingering question: If the applicant lied on his resume, what else will he or she be dishonest about?

That’s why verifying employment history as part of a background check is such a critical part of the hiring process. You need to know your applicants have actually held the jobs they claim to have held. And if they haven’t? You’ll be weeding out bad apples before they worm their way into your organization.

But, the ins and outs of verifying resumes contain a potential minefield of other issues. Here are some best practices to help you avoid them.

Standardize Your Practices

Decide which questions you’re going to ask previous employers, how many employers you’re going to contact for each applicant, and how many years you’re going to go back. If you standardize these practices, it can go a long way to stave off charges of discrimination, if, for example, you contacted three past employers of one applicant but only one of another. It wouldn’t hurt to write these policies down. Also, document your verification attempts in writing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

There’s a common misconception among hiring managers that past employers will only give dates of employment and job titles. But that’s not always true. Typical questions asked of previous employers include dates of employment, ending pay rate, reason for leaving, if he or she is eligible for re-hire, and if not, why not? The previous employer’s policies will dictate which questions will or won’t be answered, but you can at least try to ask them.

Don’t Contact Current Employers without Written Permission

If you don’t make absolutely sure it’s OK to talk to an applicant’s current employer and you do it anyway, you could be setting your applicant up to lose his or her job, and setting yourself up for backlash from the applicant.

Validate the Employer’s Phone Number

Learn the lesson of “Seinfeld,” when George gave Jerry’s number as Vandelay Industries, where he had supposedly interviewed for a job. Believe it or not, it happens in real life. If you don’t verify the phone number as belonging to the legitimate business before you call, you run the risk of hiring on the basis of elaborately faked information. And do you really want George working for you?

At Trusted Employees, we can take the guesswork out of verifying employment history and background checks so you can concentrate on making the best hire possible.