Why Previous Employment Verification is So Important

Posted: May 01, 2018

Two people conduct a previous employment verification for a job candidate

Hiring new employees can be a stressful process, but you shouldn’t ignore previous employment verification. Between the long rounds of reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and doing reference checks, organizations often want to get a candidate in as soon as possible, skipping a very important step—background checks. There are many components your organization can choose to include when running background checks on prospective employees. One key area is previous employment verification, or a response to an inquiry by a prospective employer or outside entity that the individual is or was employed by the organization(s) he/she says she was. According to an OfficeTeam survey, 46 percent of works say they know someone who has lied on a resume. It’s up to your HR department to determine how much information it wants to release. But, it’s important to have an employment verification policy in place—and to consistently enforce that policy when requests arise. In addition, employees should be trained to respond to these types of requests when your organization is called to verify previous employment. As a general note, lending institutions and government agencies will not seek detailed information such employee performance and rehire status.

The Risks of Not Doing Previous Employment Verification

The risks of hiring someone who hasn’t had their employment history verified go beyond potentially wasting your time on someone who isn’t qualified for the position. You may also be putting your organization at risk for potential lawsuits, especially if a job requires specific certification and training. If a candidate says they have this experience and injures themselves or others, they can file a lawsuit against your organization for not verifying this training.

The Benefits of Previous Employment Verification

Once employment verification is complete, you may get more information than you expected. Perhaps you are looking to fill a mid-level position, but what you really need is a director. When you look into people’s past positions, you can find skills you weren’t expecting. And it’s always great to have a candidate that can grow to meet more challenges and achieve promotions with her existing skills versus someone who isn’t adequately qualified.

What Should a Previous Employment Verification Policy Look Like?

You should direct all requests for previous employment verification to your organization’s Human Resources department for an official company response. You should not authorize employees outside of HR to provide an official response on behalf of the company. Your HR staff should have sufficient training to respond to these requests. All requests for employment verification must include the former employee’s signature authorizing the release of this information. Generally, you may release the information when a signature is available. In most cases, an employment verification looks at dates of employment, though sometimes salary information and performance are also disclosed. Consider what type of information can be released on all employees. Exceptions to the policy must have prior approval. Keep in mind that some candidates may have gaps in employment history for good reasons, including maternity leave, returning to school or self-employment projects. However, absences may also include reasons such as incarceration. Candidates sometimes falsify dates to cover these gaps. Or, they may choose to submit incorrect higher titles to increase potential pay. Applicants can deny you permission to contact their previous employers. But, you can still ask them to provide proof such as a W-2, paystub, or other tax document to prove former employment. Some organizations choose to verify the past five years of employment, while others only look at the last two years. Your company should determine what works best for your industry.

Choose the Right Background Screening Vendor

Conducting previous employment verification checks can provide your organization valuable information about applicants’ skills, honesty and abilities. With the job market accelerating, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable background screening vendor that understands any relevant regulations and potential issues you might face. Choose an experienced vendor that offers excellent customer service and is always available to answer questions. To find out more about Info Cubic’s Electronic I-9 and E-Verify solutions, contact us today.