What Employers Can Check Regarding Your Employment History

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What can employers check when they are considering you for a job? Can they find out where you worked previously and for how long you held each job? What about why you left the position? If you're job hunting, you need to know what a prospective employer can legally discover about you.

At the very least, employers can verify your employment history in regards to job title and job description, your start and end date for each job, and your salary history in locations where it is legal to ask. Organizations can also call former employers and share the information supplied in your resume, or job application, and ask previous employers to confirm its accuracy.

What Information Will Previous Employers Share?

Some employers will provide detailed information, but others won't. It all depends on the company but, most former employers will not share information about your job performance. However, if prospective employers contact staff at your previous place of employment using informal channels, this type of information could be divulged off the record.

What else can a company ask about you? There are no federal laws that limit what can be asked about a prospective employee. However, state laws vary and just to be safe you should look into what employers can ask when they are considering a candidate for a job.

Who Does the Checking?

Some employers verify work history themselves. Others outsource this task to third-party reference checking organizations. In some cases, employers (or the firms they contract) will conduct extensive background checks which may include an evaluation of your credit history and criminal record. This all depends on the type of job you are applying for, and laws regulating what employers can ask in your location. For example, if you're applying for a job where you'll be working with young children, it's likely employers will check to see if you have a criminal record.

Are Employers Limited to Checking Only What Is on Your Resume or Application?

If an employer conducts a background check, they are not limited to checking just the information you list on your resume or a job application. They could check your entire employment history and if they do, they may be concerned if they find omissions, which could be held against you. In addition, when you sign a job application you are attesting to the fact that you have given the employer all the information they asked for.

Know Your Employment History

Be sure that you provide accurate information on your job applications and resume. Don't guess as to where you worked and when. If you don't remember the details, recreate your work history before you apply. 

The most important thing is that you be truthful about all information you give to prospective employers. If you're worried about what prior employers will say about you, proactively cultivate and supply positive recommendations to counter any potential negative feedback about your performance, or attitude.