Verifying Employment Is Not Just A Good Idea

Jan 22, 2015

bigstock-Employee-Reference-Check-Form-How often to job applicants lie in their resumes or job applications? While there’s no solid figure, every recruiter has discovered resume embellishments, fudging and outright fabrications.

The economy may be improving, but the job market is still tough and competitive, and many applicants are simply desperate to find employment or anxious to switch jobs. This desperation leads to fibbing on applications, resumes, and even in interviews, which is why you should never send out a candidate before conducting an employment history verification check. In fact, these checks are often easier to run than traditional pre-employment criminal history checks, but can sometimes tell you just as much about the person.

Before you learn how to run employment history checks, let’s talk a bit about why these types of checks are important.

It’s important to run employment history background checks on every candidate for one reason: to be sure the person you are pitching is what he or she says they are.

The lies that an applicant may tell vary from person to person and job to job. Many job searchers do it without even realizing they are telling a lie. They exaggerate their employment history in a variety of different forms: it may be an applicant who stretches the dates of employment in order to eliminate or minimize gaps; or perhaps it is someone who embellishes the work responsibilities of a previous post, or even changes their job title to make it sound more impressive.

And then, of course, there are the applicants who just make up entire work histories, inventing job posts at companies for which they never worked. These types of resume liars are a good deal rarer than the embellishers, but they are still out there.

Conducting An Employment History Check

So how can you catch all of these dishonest applicants? How can you call a bluff on an embellished job title or list of skills and responsibilities?

The answer is an employment history verification check. This kind of check can be run in a variety of ways. The typical reference check is most common. You call your candidate’s past employers and verify certain pieces of information such as job titles, responsibilities, employment dates, salary information, and reasons for leaving.

Depending on the nature of the job, you might outsource this kind of job. Background check companies will often offer employment history checks in addition to criminal screenings. Other verification checks are also available, including education and professional certification checks.

The problem with the typical reference check is that while there are no laws on the books about what employers can legally discuss about former employees, most will dodge questions that involve opinion or subjective assessment. There have been cases in the past where people have sued former employees for libel, based on things said during reference checks or employment verifications. Needless to say, most employers tread lightly; many will require all information to come only through human resources..

Stick to Questions of Fact

Even so, if you stick to questions of fact during your employment history check, you shouldn’t create any problems. Just focus on verifying the information provided on the resume. Are the employment dates accurate? If not, when did the employee work there? Were they telling the truth about their job titles and responsibilities? If not, find out what they did at the old job. These conversations shouldn’t take very long and can tell you a lot about your prospect.

Taking the time to verify employment history is pivotal to making sure that that person is truly qualified and not just a great paper candidate. It will save you from embarrassment or, worse, the loss of a placement and very likely the loss of a client.

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