What is an Employment Verification? What You Need to Know

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Posted by: David Garcia November 24, 2020

When hiring someone, their prior employment history is an important consideration in their ability to perform.

Unfortunately, falsifying or exaggerating previous employment experiences is common. Because of this, employers frequently perform employment verifications as part of their background check programs.

An employment verification is when an employer, or a designated 3rd party such as a background check company, validates a job candidate’s employment history. This article provides an overview of employment verifications for recruiting professionals.

What are Your Employment Verification History Options?

An employment verification will usually verify a candidate’s title, employment dates (start and end), and occasionally salary history and job duties. Salary related questions are becoming less frequent as local laws are prohibiting those types of questions.

An employment verification may also ask while an employee is no longer with the organization and if they are eligible to be re-hired.

As an employer, you also want to determine how many years or previous employers you wish to verify. The more senior the position and/or the more technical the skill, the longer we recommend you verify employment history (typically 5 to 7 years for these types of positions). We typically see the most frequent employer verifying the last three years of employment for more junior roles.

The fees for a background check party almost always depend on how long or how many employers you want to check. Depending on your volume, employment verifications can often cost between $7 and $15, not including any 3rd party verification services fees like Equifax’s The Work Number.

The Challenges of Employment Verification

Employment verifications are either really easy or really hard.

The really easy verifications are those that the background check company can verify through a 3rd party service such as the Equifax Work Number solution. These services collect data, typically from larger companies, that background check companies can utilize to complete the verification. These types of verifications almost always return under one business day. The challenge is these 3rd party services are expensive, and the background check company will usually pass these fees onto the end customer.

The more challenging types of verifications are smaller employers, employers who have gone out of business, or international verifications. In these instances, a recruiter or your background check company needs to reach out to the former employer to complete the verification. This situation means lots of emails, calls, and even faxes to reach HR managers and hope to get enough information to verify the candidate’s prior work history.

An even more significant challenge is when the prior employer has gone out of business. In these cases, many background check companies will simply say they can’t complete the check. However, really good firms will work with the candidate to get additional information, such as a W2 that helps verify work history. You need a background check partner that goes the extra mile on these challenging verifications so your recruiters don’t have to worry about additional work with their candidates.

Questions to Ask Your Background Check Partner

To ascertain if your background check partner is maximizing their employment verification performance for you, we suggest asking the following three questions.

These questions will give you a good sense of your current vendor partner, and if you should consider finding a new partner or even taking employment verifications in-house for your recruiters. Taking verifications in-house should always be a last resort, given your recruiter’s time is better spent finding great talent versus chasing down old W2s!

  1. What is your unable-to-verify rate (UTV)?Unable-to-verify rate is the percentage of verifications a background check company is unable to complete. This situation can occur because the employer went out of business, the candidate does not have adequate documentation or there is no third-party record of the information.Best-in-class background check companies have a rate that is under 10%, but many companies have a rate that is over 20%. The problem is that when a background check company declares a verification can’t be verified, the work then falls back on your recruiters to do the work. This is absolutely the worst situation, as then your recruiter is doing the heavy lifting on the most challenging verifications.
  2. How do you define an “attempt”?When speaking with your background check company, you want to ask them how many attempts they make to complete a verification. The standard answer is “we will make 3 attempts”, but you need to push them to clarify what is an attempt.Gold-standard firms define attempts as “one attempt = one call, one email, and one fax”, but many others will define it as just an email or a simple phone call… often made after office hours when part-time labor for the background firm is less expensive. The goal in ensuring a robust attempt is so the background check company does not push work back onto your recruiters.
  3. How do you measure your verifiers?Most background check companies measure verifiers on how many verifications they complete in a day. This approach incentivizes the verifier to close out the verification without going the extra mile to complete the verification. This incentive then leads to a high UTV rate, which leads to more work for your recruiters.You should look for background check companies who measure their verifiers on completion rate. This KPI is a much better measure of quality over quantity that impacts your recruiter’s ability to source great talent.

ScoutLogic Employment Verifications Is Best-In-Class

Employment verifications are a specialty of ScoutLogic. ScoutLogic has an unable-to-verify rate under 5% because we measure our verifiers on their completion rate, not how many verifications they can get through in a single day.

At ScoutLogic, we know recruiters don’t have time to be following up with candidates on W2s. Recruiters need to be out finding great talent for your organization.

Beyond employment verifications, ScoutLogic offers everything you need in background check services to run high-quality background checks with great service. If you would like to learn how ScoutLogic can help, click here to schedule your program’s free assessment.

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