Once upon a time, having a degree from a university could set someone’s resume apart from the rest. Now, however, four-year degrees are becoming the norm. This, among other factors, has caused the job market to become even more competitive.
While having a degree can be valuable, many employers are looking for candidates with prior experience in their industries or at least in related fields. Unfortunately, this heightened sense of competition can cause job seekers to feel desperate enough to lie on their resumes.
They may embellish job titles to make past positions look more impressive. Some may even lie about the duties they performed at a previous job. There are also those who lie by omission and simply do not put a job on their resume, especially if the job ended poorly.
Whether you’re an employer trying to wade through the lies or a job seeker hoping not to get caught, you may be wondering if a background check can uncover someone’s employment history.
In this article, we will explore the tools available to employers to learn about the employment histories of potential employees. We’ll also share resources job seekers can use to ensure their resumes are accurate.
What Do Background Checks Show Employers?
If you’re wondering whether or not a background check shows someone’s past employment history, the short answer is technically no. Typically, background checks draw from public records and provide criminal histories, driving records, and credit histories.
These records help employers verify that potential employees are safe to place in positions that work with vulnerable individuals, such as children. They also help employers ensure that applicants have the appropriate licenses in the case of work that requires driving.
As you can see, these aspects of background checks are vital to determining whether a candidate is not only qualified but safe to work with.
Using a free people search engine, you can find someone’s criminal history, educational background, court records, arrest reports, civil records, and more. However, it’s important to note that employers cannot legally perform these types of checks, and it is illegal to perform a background check on a potential employee (or current one) without their expressed written consent.
How Do Employers Verify Employment History?
Though basic pre-employment background checks won’t turn up a list of someone’s past jobs, this doesn’t mean that employers don’t have tools at their disposal to verify the truth of resumes. Many employers will hire third-party companies to contact the businesses listed on someone’s resume.
These companies will ensure that the applicant did, in fact, work at those companies and verify the time period they worked there. They can also determine if the applicant’s job title and duties listed on the resume are accurate.
Sometimes, these employment history verification checks can find out the applicant’s reason for leaving their prior positions, but not always. Some employers are not willing to discuss such details.
Similarly, past employers usually will not share information about the candidate’s work ethic, character, integrity, or ability to perform the job they are applying for. Aside from company policies, there are also laws that prohibit employers from slander.
Without evidence, past employers cannot say much negative about the applicants in question for fear of being sued for defamation. In order to get more detailed information about an applicant’s work ethic and behavior, it is best to contact the references listed on their resume.
How Do Employers Verify Education Credentials?
Background checks do not provide information about education, either. It is possible for applicants to attempt to lie about having been to college or about whether or not they received certain awards or recognitions.
Luckily, an applicant’s education isn’t too difficult to verify. Prospective employers (or the third-party services they hire) can reach out to the college’s registrar’s office.
Most universities are willing to confirm dates of attendance and graduation as well as majors and degrees. With the applicant’s permission, prospective employers can also receive a transcript detailing the applicant’s academic history and achievements.
What If I Forget to List a Job on My Resume?
If you are a job seeker, there may be some jobs you’ve either neglected to list or simply forgotten about. It’s common for people to leave off any jobs that didn’t end well for them in fear of being slandered by previous employers and missing out on the job they’re applying for.
It’s also common for people to forget to list jobs if the position was something they did years and years ago. Not only that, but your resume should only be so long; it’s unrealistic to list every single job you’ve ever worked at, especially if you have an extensive work history.
Though you typically want to list only relevant experience on your resume, employers will notice if there are any large gaps in your employment history. To them, this can sometimes seem like a red flag; either you were unemployed for a long period of time, or you’ve omitted something purposefully.
Therefore, you should be honest about your work history. Another thing you can do is build a LinkedIn profile that includes your entire work history, even the jobs that may seem irrelevant to any positions you may apply for.
Many prospective employers will Google you and look for your social media pages, including your LinkedIn. Even if you don’t include your LinkedIn on your resume, employers can and will find it. Therefore, take advantage of it as a resource to show off your work history and fill in any gaps in your resume.
How Do I Find My Work History?
It’s easy to forget the exact dates for when you started and quit a company, especially if you worked there years ago. Luckily, there are ways you can look up your work history so that you can accurately report it on your resume.
Contact Your State’s Tax Department or Unemployment Office
Oftentimes, you can request a transcript of your wages and tax withholding or your employment history from your state’s tax department or unemployment office. As long as you worked for an in-state employer, this information should be available to you. In some states, you can request records as far back as 10 years.
Contact the Social Security Administration
By completing the “Request for Social Security Earnings Information” form offered by the Social Security Administration, you can receive a detailed statement about your work history, including employment dates, employer names and addresses, and earnings.
Check Your Tax Returns
You can check your tax returns to get information about the companies you have worked for. Your tax returns can also help you estimate when and how long you worked for a specific company. If you do not have copies of past tax returns, you can get them from the IRS online or by mail.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Though a standard background check won’t provide information about someone’s employment history, employers do have ways of finding out where someone worked in the past and for how long. As an employer, it can be frustrating to wade through the many embellishments people put on their resumes to appear more employable.
As a job seeker, it may seem like a few harmless white lies here and there to increase your chances of getting a job, but lying can hurt your chances if prospective employers find out. So instead of lying, use online resources or have a professional help you create a resume that stands out without requiring you to misrepresent the truth.
At the end of the day, honesty is the best policy. Employers appreciate it, and honesty, not lies, will increase one’s chances of landing a job.
This story originally appeared on CareerAttraction