Pro-tips for Handling Employment Reference Checks


When an employee leaves your employment (regardless of the circumstances), they tend to pop up on your radar again at some point in the form of a reference check or employment verification. Many employers have made the mistake of wading into tumultuous waters by letting their emotional reactions do the talking for them. Here are some professional tips in case you find yourself receiving a call from another employer:


You are on the phone with another professional!


It is imperative that you understand that during a reference check or employment verification you are on the phone (or emailing) another business professional. Therefore, you want to make sure policies are in place to handle the transaction of information in a safe, professional manner. We recommend creating a policy that appoints a single trained individual (or group of individuals depending on the company’s size and turnover rate) to handle any and all incoming reference/verification checks. This will ensure that the communication remains professionally and appropriately.


Do not take this as an opportunity to score a few jabs!


In a uniquely perfect world, all employees transition out of their jobs in a positive manner that is both fair to the employee as well as the employer. This is, however, not always the case; sometimes employees leave in a very negative and dramatic fashion. Employees often just simply walk out on their employer and leave them in some very uncomfortable positions. We recommend never using verification checks or other communications as an opportunity to bash an employee that left on less than positive terms. At the end of the day, you should just be thankful you are no longer retaining their employment, and should avoid potentially looking like an employer that makes a habit of sabotaging their former employees’ careers.


The facts...just the facts!


It is astonishing what employers will claim about their former employees based purely on speculation. Prudence dictates that the former employer should stick strictly to the information that can be substantiated by facts (i.e. dates of employment, position held, number of direct reports they had, what their documented job responsibilities were, etc.). Employment verifications and reference checks are not confidential, saying something inappropriate may lead to consequences that range in severity. We recommend that your policies explicitly list what information can be released.


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Michael Chiovitti, Chief Talent Strategist

Eden Resources, LLC