Employment verification: everything you need to know

Employment verification helps HR leaders and hiring managers quickly filter through the pool of job candidates

Employment verification: everything you need to know

Employment verification is a valuable tool that can help employers choose the right job applicant. Unfortunately, it’s not utilized much by companies due to the lack of knowledge on how to properly conduct a verification of employment.

To help employers, HRD discusses what exactly is employment verification and how it helps in the hiring process.

What is an employment verification?

A verification of employment (VOE), or employment verification, is used to verify a candidate’s credibility during their job application process. The VOE can be conducted by an employer or a selected third-party service that can perform background checks and employment verification.

An employment verification can confirm a job candidate’s past employment and work history. Aside from the basic employment information like job titles, responsibilities, and dates of employment, some other information employment verification checks are a candidate’s job performance, their reason for leaving previous employment, skills, qualifications, any disciplinary action, and professional behavior in the workplace and towards co-workers.

The verification helps employers and hiring managers filter through the candidate pool and focus on applicants that have the proper qualifications for the job opening. It also supports the information job candidates claim on their resumes or reveals if the candidate was being dishonest.

The primary employment law that governs employment verification is the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). The IRCA requires employers to fill out Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for each employee they hire. The form claims that the employee is legally permitted to hold employment within the United States due to their citizenship or immigration status.

Read more: Can an employer revoke a job offer?

Documents that prove employment

Proving employment can be in the form of different documents which are usually provided by the previous employers. The most common proof of employment is the employment verification letter. Also known as letter of employment or job verification letter, it’s a letter from the former employer which states the employee’s dates of employment, job titles, and their responsibilities in the company. It also states the former employer’s information such as their company name, business address, and contact information. An employment verification letter is a good document for proof of employment as it comes directly from the employer and can remove the need for hiring managers to contact the former employee for verification later on.

References is also a common proof of employment that hiring managers ask from job applicants. It’s an easy way for employers to inquire about an applicant’s employment history. It’s also a great way for candidates to showcase how good they were as an employee by having previous employers and co-workers confirm the candidate’s skills and expertise.

Pay slips, original employment contracts, valid Social Security card, and Form I-9 are just some other documents that can be used in proving employment.

How an employment verification is conducted

Below are the many ways to conduct an employment verification.

  1. Through the company

The most common way for a company to conduct an employment verification is by doing it themselves. Typically, an employer, hiring manager, or HR leader will ask for further documentation that proves the candidate’s employment or to contact each workplace the job applicant has listed and mentioned during their job application.

The purpose of contacting the applicant’s previous employer is to determine whether the applicant was really employed there, their dates of employment, their reason for leaving the company, their job titles, and the tasks they did during their employment. In addition, the hiring manager could also get a glimpse of how the candidate was as an employee and how well they worked with their former co-workers. A company must first inform the candidate of the employment verification before proceeding forward.

Although it is the most common way of conducting employment verification, the process could be very time-consuming and expensive for the company – especially if there are many candidates to go through and each has an extensive work background.

  1. Through a third-party background check services company

Another method to conduct employment verification is through the assistance of a third-party company that performs background checks and employment verification. Requesting a third-party service to complete the employment verification removes the stress from the hiring managers and allows them to focus on other tasks such as conducting more interviews, screening other applicants, or other jobs needed in the workplace. 

With the help of a third-party service, employers and hiring managers have the option to run a complete background check on employees that includes other employee information, like credit check, rather than just employment verification alone. When opting for a background check, the rules and requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) have to be fulfilled. This includes informing the candidate of the background check on them before conducting the review. 

  1. Through employment verification database providers

Employment verification providers are companies who collect and archives employment information of individuals who were and are currently employed by companies who partner with these providers. The partnership makes employment verification easier in the long run. However, for employers to access the employment information of a candidate, they have to follow the rules and requirements of the FCRA.

The Work Number is the country’s largest centralized database for income and employment information. It is owned by Equifax and is used by many well-known organizations such as the US Department of Labor and the John Carroll University to keep records of their employees’ employment information.

Read more: Simplifying background checks

Misuse of an employment verification

An employment verification can bring many advantages for companies, but if conducted poorly or for the wrong reasons, it can cause severe issues for the employer and the job applicant.

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal laws against employment discrimination, it’s not illegal for an employer to ask questions about an applicant’s background except for certain medical and genetic information records. However, it’s unlawful for employers to conduct a background check or an employment verification on a certain applicant in a manner that unfairly denies equal employment opportunity for an applicant.

It's the responsibility of HR managers to remain fair and unbiased when hiring candidates and managing employees – this includes screening through job applicants.

Even when the employee has left the company, the employer should remain honest and equal with the former employee whether their exit from the organization was good or bad. An excellent way to display honesty with the former employee is by being transparent and straightforward when another employer inquires about the employment background of the candidate. It not only helps the candidate in their job hunt, but also leaves a good image of the company.

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