You've spent hours sifting through job applications from prospective candidates and then even more hours interviewing the ones who seem like the best fit for the position you're looking to fill. You've finally narrowed it down to a handful of candidates, or perhaps you may even have your eye on just one person.
Congratulations! Getting to this point has taken a lot of hard work on your part. But, before you type up that job offer, it's a good idea to take one final, important step in your recruitment process: verifying your ideal candidate's employment information.
Why it's important to verify employment information
So, you've had the opportunity to interview your ideal candidate, and they're as good a fit in person as they appear on paper. You might think it's a waste of time to check out the employment information they've provided, but if you do a quick search online you'll find that, sadly, lying about references and work experience during the job application process is not such a rare thing for employers to encounter.
This makes the employment verification step in your recruitment process an important one, and one that you shouldn't skip simply because you feel you've found the right person for the job. Verifying employment details doesn't take much time, and will protect you from the headaches that can come with discovering discrepancies after you've already hired and trained a new employee.
How to verify employment information
Your candidate will have provided employment information when they filled out your job application form. Here's how to verify that information:
Obtain the job applicant's consent. While not all employers will require their employees' consent to release employment information to a third party, most do. Therefore, it's always a good idea to get consent first, so that you can include your applicant's signed consent form with your request for employment verification. You can do this by getting your applicant to sign a separate consent document, or you can include a consent section in your employment verification request letter, and ask them to sign that part of your letter before you send it off.
Verify the contact information provided. The easiest way to verify the contact information you've been given is to look up the employer online. While your prospective hire may have given you a contact name as well, it's always a good idea to call the company directly and ask for contact information for either the HR department or the person in charge of verifying employment info.
Submit an employment verification request letter. Submitting a letter requesting verification of employment is the last step in the process. See below for more information about what to include in your letter. Note that some companies may require a specific form for such requests and, in such cases, you'll need to obtain a copy and submit it according to the company's guidelines.
The employment verification request letter
Your request for verification of employment should include specific questions about the information you want to verify. For example, such letters will commonly include verification of the following information:
- The employee's start date with the company, and the end date, if the employee is no longer with the company
- The employee's job title/position
- Annual salary
- Whether the position was full-time or part-time
- Whether the position was temporary or permanent
Keep in mind that employers do not have to disclose this information to you, although most will provide information about start and end dates and job position, provided you've also forwarded the employee's written consent. Disclosure of any of the information you're looking to verify will depend on both the employer's own policies and any applicable state laws regarding what employers may or may not disclose about an employee's employment history.
What to do if there's a discrepancy
If there appears to be a discrepancy between the information in the employment verification letter an employer or former employer has provided you and the information your job applicant has given you, contact the employer to make sure the information they have provided accurately reflects the information on their records.
If there have been no administrative errors made in the employment information disclosed to you by your applicant's employer, you also can check directly with your job candidate.
They may have made an error when filling out the information, or there may be an explanation for the discrepancy that's not recorded in their employer's records. If they can't provide you with a reasonable explanation, you may want to reevaluate your assessment of them.
Other things to look for during this important employment verification stage include gaps in an applicant's employment history, as well as any former employers that haven't been listed as a reference by the applicant. Often there is a reasonable explanation for either of these situations, so, if any questions arise during this process, a discussion with the candidate will often help to clear up your concerns.
Finding the ideal candidate for the position you're needing to fill in your company is always a cause for celebration. But before drafting that job offer letter, taking a bit of time to verify previous employment information can give you more peace of mind that the person you're looking to hire really is the ideal person for the position.