Does a Background Check Have Past Employers On It? (2023)

Can a Background Check Reveal Past Employers or Job History?

It's a fact: job seekers often lie on their resumes. According to a 2022 survey by resume writing company StandOutCV, 55 percent of workers said they personally had lied on a resume. That means tens of millions of Americans have potentially told lies to employers. That can leave many businesses wondering if there is any way to background check past employers for whom a candidate has worked—and for a good reason.

While these lies can appear on any part of a resume, including in the education section, the StandOutCV survey found that the two most common forms of resume dishonesty concern past employers: job experience and lying in the resume's skills section.

The trend of resume fabrication puts employers in a challenging position. Most hiring decisions are grounded in employment history and past job experience. Employers often look for individuals whose work histories reflect a pre-existing ability to perform the job at hand. If candidates lie about their past jobs—whether by embellishing job responsibilities, tweaking position titles to make them sound more impressive, or fabricating jobs—how can employers make informed decisions about who to hire?

The answer can lie in better vetting practices, but understanding what each tool can and cannot offer you is important.

What a Background Check Can See

Resume lies often leave hiring managers asking one key question: can a background check for employment show previous employers and other details about a candidate's job history?

The simple answer is no. A background check cannot return a list or access any database of a professional's jobs over the years. Most pre-employment background check services aim to uncover public record information, such as criminal record information, driving records, and credit checks. While vital to the hiring process, details such as education or employment history are not part of the public record in the same way as a felony conviction.

Instead, the employers who hired them hold records detailing an individual's work history. That does not mean you have no recourse, however.

While a pre employment background check doesn't source lists of places where a candidate has worked, background screening companies can assist employers in detecting and identifying resume dishonesty. The good news is that employers typically don't need a background search to do so: the candidate has likely self-provided a list of employers while filling out a job application.

A background check company can help verify the information in the "Work History" section of a candidate's resume. At, we offer a background check with employment history built in to the process. By contacting the employers that a candidate lists on their resume, we can help to hire managers to determine which information on the resume is true and which might fall into the category of "resume lies."

You won't have to look far if you're "where can I find a background check near me that will help with this problem?" Using our employment history verification product, employers can share data provided by applicants about past jobs or employment opportunities. investigators then contact the companies or employers listed on a resume to verify crucial details.

These details might include:

  • Job titles
  • Employment dates (both start and end dates)
  • Job responsibilities

If a candidate has fabricated or embellished parts of their work history, our verification check will uncover those lies.

In some cases, an employment verification background check will also include the applicant's reason for leaving their previous job. It might also include their eligibility to be rehired by the same company. However, note that former employers will not always be willing to discuss these details during a routine work history check. Most will choose to shield themselves from any potential liability as a best practice.

Work history verifications differ from reference checks. The goal is not necessarily to collect information about a candidate's work ethic, character, integrity, or other details that speak to their ability to perform the job at hand. Asking about these details is generally a more subjective pursuit than verifying point-of-fact information such as employment dates or titles.

Employers can be sued for defamation if they speak negatively about a past employee unless they can prove what they say with evidence. As a result, HR managers typically focus on confirming or denying only the most objective facts about past employees. Most will do their best to avoid tiptoeing into subjective judgments

Employers wishing to explore those subjective opinions should perform professional reference checks as part of their employee background check process. When a candidate provides a list of past bosses, colleagues, or other individuals as references, hiring leaders can contact those individuals to discuss other matters. There is tacit permission from the candidate for both parties—the professional reference and the prospective employer—to discuss the candidate in significant detail. can also perform reference checks on your behalf alongside criminal record screenings and job history background checks. We also offer two other checks for education verification and checking professional licenses if there are other parts of an applicant's resume that you want to check for truthfulness.

Job seekers will sometimes invent college degrees, lie about professional licenses or certifications, or otherwise stretch the truth on facets of their resumes. Verification background checks can put all the details provided on a resume under a microscope to inform prospective employers whether they can safely hire a candidate based on a resume.

What if I Forget to List a Job?

If you are a job seeker, you have a significant task in front of you when assembling a resume. There is an art to crafting a perfect resume, and precisely that challenge prompts some candidates to be tempted to stretch the truth.

The primary purpose of resumes is for employers to identify, at a quick glance, which applicants are best suited for a role. The purpose of resumes for job applicants is to get noticed by the employer. While these priorities overlap harmoniously in many cases, they can clash if a candidate's way of getting noticed is adopting flashy job titles, lying about skills or qualifications, or committing other instances of resume dishonesty.

With that said, there is another reason why prospective employees might "lie" on their resume: omission. Perhaps, while putting together your resume, you forget to list a job that you held for six months more than five years ago. Alternatively, maybe you are deeper into your career and can't find space for your entire professional history without exceeding the usual limit of one page for your resume. In either case, you could present a resume that is missing jobs you have held in the past.

The first question that job seekers often ask is whether prospective employers can run background checks for employment history that will show jobs they did not list on their resumes. The answer is no: no central database compiles a list of everywhere you have worked in your life. So, if you exclude one past job from your resume, that doesn't mean your hiring manager will immediately find that information and ask why you left it out of your resume.

However, realize that employers do pay attention to hiring and departure dates when reviewing resumes. If you forget to list a job or willfully exclude one, and doing so leaves a notable gap in your work history, that gap may raise some alarm bells for the employer. If a gap in your job history is long enough, it might cause a hiring manager to wonder whether you are hiding a red flag—such as being fired. Alternatively, the hiring manager might draw conclusions about your motivation and work ethic if they assume you were out of work for months or years.

Worries about the implications of resume gaps are another factor that sometimes leads job seekers to stumble into resume lies. While applying for jobs, it's not uncommon for a candidate to eliminate gaps from their resume simply by saying that they worked at a previous job for a few months longer or started a subsequent position a few months earlier.

While these seemingly minor resume "adjustments" might seem harmless, try not to be tempted by them. Employment verifications can and will flag these resume lies, and most employers will be far more suspicious that you lied on your resume than they would have been about a three-month gap between jobs. According to a study by ResumeLab, 65 percent of candidates caught lying on their resumes were either disqualified from hiring consideration or fired from jobs they already held.

If you forget to list a job on your resume, try to be as honest about it as possible. Be accurate with your job history dates. Answer candidly if the hiring manager asks you in your interview why there are gaps in your resume.

Familiarize Yourself With Your Employment History

To keep a full account of your professional history, you might use LinkedIn and then curate your resume to list just three to five key jobs from that history. The other benefit of building a LinkedIn profile spanning your entire career is that it allows you to familiarize yourself with the complete scope of your employment history.

This process is a smart step for resume writing. Taking the time to reflect on where you have worked, the positions that you have held, and the dates for each employment engagement reduces the risk of accidentally incorporating inaccuracies into your resume. It also allows you to think critically about how to best present yourself to a prospective employer.

Where in your career did you receive promotions, job title changes, or other mid-job shifts that you should note on your resume? Which jobs that you've worked on over the years are the closest match with the job description of the position that you are seeking now? How can you spotlight your work history to get a hiring manager's attention without telling a single lie or exaggeration? Spending a few days familiarizing yourself with your professional history will help you answer all these questions and give you the tools you need to put together the best resume possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a background check show about employment history?

Technically, no product based on public records, such as a criminal background check, will ever show a candidate's history of past jobs. The most common background check that employers run is a criminal history search. This search will uncover conviction records but won't provide a record of where the candidate has worked over the years.

The type of background check that employers use to check professional history is an employment verification check. This check takes the job candidate's work history on their resume or job application and checks the information for falsehoods or inaccuracies.

How do background check companies verify employment history?

An employment verification check involves contacting the previous employers listed on a candidate's resume and asking them to verify the accuracy of key pieces of information that the candidate provided. Specifically, the background check company will ask about positions and titles, dates of employment, job responsibilities, salaries, reason(s) that the candidate left the job, and eligibility for rehire.

The background check company will then deliver a report to the hiring manager detailing any discrepancies between the candidate's resume and the information that its team gleaned through the verification process.

Can you lie about your employment history?

While it is possible to lie about employment history on a resume or job application, that doesn't make it a smart idea. Employers want to know that they are hiring a qualified candidate but also want to hire someone they can trust. Even a minor lie on a resume—such as an exaggerated job title—breaches that trust before it begins to form. A job history verification process can easily disprove lies on a resume, making it particularly risky to be dishonest about past work.

Can an employer know your employment history?

Employers can require job candidates to submit to a variety of pre-employment background checks, including employment history verifications. A hiring manager must first notify you of their intent to conduct a background check and get your express written permission to proceed with the check.

These requirements are stipulated in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and failure to comply can leave employers vulnerable to lawsuits. However, if a prospective employer asks you to approve a work history check and refuses, they may dismiss you from hiring consideration

Does a Background Check Have Past Employers On It? (1)

AboutMichael KlazemaThe author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments


Does a Background Check Have Past Employers On It? ›

Yes, background checks include a portion of a work history that confirms a person's prior employment, job titles, dates of employment, and any potential termination reasons. Public documents, educational institutions, and other sources are used to compile this data.

Are former employers called during background check? ›

A background check helps to verify your previous employers and that you have the relevant skills an employer wants. To check your credentials, a prospective employer calls your previous employers directly to verify the accuracy of jobs and dates of employment in your application.

What shows up on a background check? ›

Often, a criminal background check will include looking into local court records, as well as state and national criminal databases. By doing this kind of investigation, you may learn about any arrests, charges, or convictions that have already been made, as well as any current criminal proceedings.

Can an employer see all my previous job? ›

The bottom line is simple: yes, background checks can reveal past employers. These checks are most accurate when conducted by outside investigators, of course. Still, many larger companies have considerable resources and can provide thorough vetting. That's important to remember when you create your resume.

Do background checks show search history? ›

Even though buzzwords like “big data” and “the internet of things” may make you feel like all your actions online are traceable, the truth is that background checks do NOT show your search history on search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

How does HR verify past employment? ›

Some hiring managers do it themselves, reaching out directly (typically via phone) to your current or previous employers to request official verification. Alternatively, employers may use professional background screening firms and/or an employment verification service such as The Work Number® from Equifax.

What is a red flag in a background check? ›

Employers should keep an eye out for potential red flags during the background check process, such as criminal convictions relevant to the job, fabricated employment or education history, discrepancies in personal information, or negative professional references.

What background check do most landlords use? ›

A rental background check is a tenant screening tool that allows landlords to see various aspects of a rental applicant's past behavior. The majority of the data you'll see comes from the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion. Equifax.

What is a soft background check? ›

A soft inquiry is when a lender pulls your credit score or accesses limited information rather than your entire credit report. When a soft inquiry is made, it is shown as an inquiry rather than a pulling of your credit report.

Can an employer tell another employer not to hire you? ›

Even someone you worked for a few years back could prevent you from getting a job if they give a company reason to be concerned about hiring you. Some companies have a policy of not providing anything beyond basic verification information like start and end dates and position(s) held.

Can future employers see if I was fired? ›

You are right to be aware that your prospective employer may check on the reasons you left your job. Most employers conduct background or reference checks during the interview process. If you've been terminated for cause, it may well come up during their investigation.

What is HR allowed to ask from previous employers? ›

Besides asking if the former employee is eligible for re-hire, employers may ask additional questions, such as “What were the circumstances surrounding his termination?” They may also ask “Is she/he under a non-compete contract or are they free to come to work for us because we're in the same industry?” This ...

Can background checks see deleted accounts? ›

Not only can deleted accounts still show up in Google searches, but according to a survey from Business News Daily, forty-seven percent of employers would not call a candidate for an interview if they can't find them online. Deleted accounts make it appear as if a candidate has something to hide.

Can employers see deleted posts? ›

It's possible. If the post was shared, even if deleted, that content could still exist. If a screenshot was taken of the post, it will still be something they can find. The chances of that happening are very slim unless you are out of luck.

Who can see your search history? ›

Who Else Can Track My Browsing History? The sad truth is that anyone can view your browser history and search history. Many websites use cookies that follow you and recommend items based on your search history. Governments can track you if you do something to alert them.

Does HR actually call previous employers? ›

Most times, they will speak with the human resources department or your previous supervisor. However, employers most often contact previous employers to verify you are accurately representing your experience with them, rather than get a review of your time with them.

Does SSN show employment history? ›

An SSN trace can uncover an applicant's former names and aliases, helping to expand your criminal records searches and your education history, employment history, and professional license verifications.

How long does it take to verify employment history? ›

While the majority of employment verifications can be completed in less than 72 hours, there are several reasons it may take longer.

How worried should I be about a background check? ›

Should I be worried about a background check? A background check is a prerequisite of the hiring process and cannot be avoided. As long as you are honest on your resume and understand your rights, you will not have anything to worry about. Be sure to review the background check laws in your state before applying.

What gets flagged on background check? ›

8 Common Red Flags on Background Checks
  • Inconsistency in Information. ...
  • Gaps in Employment History. ...
  • Short Lengths of Time at Companies. ...
  • Criminal Records. ...
  • Suspicious Credit History. ...
  • Negative References. ...
  • Failed Drug Screening. ...
  • Refusing a Background Check Entirely.
Jun 9, 2022

What are green flags on background check? ›

That it was accepted and passed.

What do employers typically look for in a background check? ›

Generally speaking, a background check for employment may show identity verification, employment verification, credit history, driver's history, criminal records, education confirmation, and more.

How far do most employer background checks go? ›

Pre-employment background checks commonly used by employers typically cover 7 years of criminal records, but can go back further depending on federal and state laws and what type of search is requested. Bankruptcies can go back as far as 10 years. Employment credit checks go back a minimum of 7 years.

What is the most extensive background check? ›

The federal government has arguably the most extensive background check process in the entire country, and for good reason – the secrets many of their jobs protect carry extensive implications for all of us.

What questions should I ask for tenant screening? ›

Top Tenant Screening Questions
  • What date would you like to move in?
  • Do you have pets?
  • How long have you lived in your current home?
  • Why are you moving?
  • How many people will be living in the unit?
  • How many people living with you smoke?
  • What is your monthly income?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?
Jan 30, 2019

What is a resident score? ›

What Is A ResidentScore? A ResidentScore is a score that has been specifically built to give insight into the outcome of a lease. The score was created by TransUnion after compiling nationwide credit data from individuals that lead to negative rental outcomes.

What looks bad on a background check? ›

There are many reasons why a candidate may “fail” a background check, from criminal history to discrepancies in employment or education history, or an unsafe driving record or failed drug test.

What is the lowest level background check? ›

Level 1. We would consider a “Level 1” screening to be a name-based background check that includes a nationwide database search as well as one jurisdiction (or county) court search. Typically, this is the area where the individual currently lives. A level one check can also include a single employment verification.

Do background checks hurt credit? ›

How a Background Check Affects Your Credit Score. The good news is an employer background credit check won't affect your credit or FICO score at all. Why? It's considered a soft inquiry, which pulls most of your financial information for data purposes as opposed to a hard inquiry, which can take points off your score.

What not to tell an employer? ›

Things you should never say in a job interview
  • Anything negative about a previous employer or job. ...
  • "I don't know." ...
  • Discussions about benefits, vacation and pay. ...
  • "It's on my resume." ...
  • Unprofessional language. ...
  • "I don't have any questions." ...
  • Asking what the company does. ...
  • Overly prepared answers or cliches.
Mar 10, 2023

What are previous employers allowed to say? ›

Generally, previous employers are allowed to disclose dates of employment, details of work performance along with the basic responsibilities and expectations that came with a role.

Can former employers give a bad reference? ›

You may think that a past employer won't give a negative reference, but unfortunately employers can — and do — give bad feedback. Think previous employers can't legally give a negative reference or do more than confirm dates of employment? This is not true.

Can a previous employer disclose why you left? ›

Employers are not prohibited by law from disclosing to a potential employer - who calls for a reference about a former employee - the reasons that the employee left, as long as the information they share is truthful.

What words scare human resources? ›

What should you not say to HR?
  • The general rule is don't bring your everyday complaints to HR. They're not there to make your job better or easier and they might fire you simply because they don't want to hear it. ...
  • Discrimination. ...
  • Medical needs. ...
  • Pay issues. ...
  • Cooperate with HR if asked, but be smart about it.

Should I leave a job off my resume if I was fired? ›

Being fired is not a reason why candidates should exclude a job from their CV. So no, you should not forget about your last position just because you've been let go. That is because you have still done the work, hopefully the company thrive, learned new skills, and achieved results.

What happens if you say no to contacting previous employer? ›

Former Employers:

Answering “no” to “may we contact this employer” without some sort of explanation can raise some red flags. This response may make them suspicious that you're wary of a poor reference, that you could be hiding something, or that you never worked at that company in the first place.

Can an old boss sabotage a new job? ›

If a former employer is trying to sabotage your efforts to find new employment, you might be able to file a claim based on your state's anti-blacklisting law. These statutes define blacklisting in different ways.

Can a company call my previous employer without permission? ›

Legally, yes, you can contact references without permission and backdoor reference checking isn't illegal. The decision is up to you, but it's highly recommended that you respect the candidate's request not to contact certain references.

How do I remove my information from a background check? ›

The only way to remove or update your information from an FCRA background check or regulated website is to contest the accuracy records or provide proof of expungement or sealing. Some employers are allowed to see certain expunged or sealed cases on an FCRA check.

Can you fail background check because of social media? ›

After scanning the internet and verifying that we've located the right person, we review their content for any material that is potentially violent, unlawful, sexually explicit, or demonstrates racism or intolerance. Roughly 10% of the reports we complete come back with negative material on them.

Can deleted social media be recovered? ›

Data from hidden or deleted social media posts can sometimes be retrieved through hashtags or reposted items from third parties, such as retweets or tags. Short-lived postings on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter can often be retrieved this way, especially if they have gone viral.

How do I hide my search history from my employer? ›

Use a VPN. Using a VPN is the best way to hide internet activity from employers, companies that you work for, and other institutions and third parties. When you use a VPN, the internet traffic goes through a tunnel that encrypts all the data between your device and a website.

Can employers see permanently deleted emails? ›

In general, many employers have written policies that permit them to monitor your email. These policies often allow employers to access any information sent or received over the company's server - including deleted messages!

Do background checks show deleted social media? ›

In some cases, deleted social media accounts can still show up in background checks. A candidate's social media presence is a crucial part of the hiring process.

Can anyone access my deleted search history? ›

Yes, simply by contacting your internet service provider. They are obligated by law to store records of your online activity. The only exception is that your provider could have already deleted the data if the history is older than the data retention period.

Does your search history actually clear? ›

A lot of data is generated as you browse the internet, and clearing your history only deletes the record of addresses you've visited that are stored locally on your device. It doesn't remove your Google search history, or other data stored on remote servers. It also doesn't delete cache data, or disable cookies.

Does HR call previous employers? ›

Most times, they will speak with the human resources department or your previous supervisor. However, employers most often contact previous employers to verify you are accurately representing your experience with them, rather than get a review of your time with them.

Will leaving a short term job off your resume show up on a background check? ›

While it's tempting to leave these positions off your resume or a job application, doing so comes with its own risks. Background checks may reveal previous employment, and the discovery that you omitted information from your work history can hurt your current chances of finding, or keeping a job.

Is it illegal to talk bad about a former employer? ›

There are no federal laws that restrict what former employees can or cannot say about their past employers. If you just mention disliking someone or disliking a company, no legal action can be pursued. General complaints and grievances are protected under federal law.

Can my previous employer disclose why I was fired? ›

Federal law doesn't prohibit employers from sharing the reasons for terminating an employee.

Can I lie about how long I worked somewhere on my resume? ›

You should never lie about: The dates you worked — it's better to have to explain a resume gap than a lie. The company you worked for. Your educational background and credentials.

Is it dishonest to leave a job off resume? ›

Leaving small jobs off a resume is fine when they don't add anything to the new position, but if the skills and experience align with the new job, include them on your resume. Remember this applies to both hard and soft skills, don't overlook the value of teamwork, leadership or adherence to deadlines.

Is it illegal to leave a job off your resume? ›

In many cases, it's completely acceptable to omit certain jobs from your resume. However, there are cases in which leaving a job off your resume can present serious problems if your new employer finds out you said one thing in your interview and presented yourself differently by leaving something off your resume.

What's a good reason to put why you left a job? ›

Some good reasons for leaving a job include company downturn, acquisition, merger or restructuring as well as the desire for change — be it advancement, industry, environment, leadership or compensation. Family circumstances may also be a factor.

Which question is most likely to be illegal in an interview? ›

According to employment law, illegal interview questions include any questions that don't directly relate to your open roles. This means questions covering such topics as age, family, gender, marriage, nationality and religion are illegal questions to ask in an interview.

Can HR tell future employer you were fired? ›

It's possible that a job candidate's previous employers will reveal if he or she was fired from their previous job and the reason for the dismissal. However, in most cases, don't expect to receive this information.

What questions is HR not allowed to ask? ›

We recommend that you avoid asking applicants about personal characteristics that are protected by law, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin or age.


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