What We Need Now In HR….A Better Employment Verification System

Kelly Dingee Kelly Dingee, Recruiting 8 Comments

I guess I’m jaded after all these years–I don’t have a lot of faith in employment verifications or references.

Why? They’re supplied by the candidate.  Are they really going to supply a bad reference? I don’t think they will. I know I won’t.  I have one employer in my entire 24 year history of HR-related work that was super pissed when I left. Super.  So do I provide them as a reference?  No.  Even though it was one of my favorite jobs, and I learned so much while I was there that has shaped how I work today.  It’s a matter of trust, and based on my last two weeks at said employer, I didn’t leave with a super happy high fivin’ feeling.

And really, when a reference is verified, you call a number provided by the candidate, ask for the person that they tell you to call and then…get your reference.  How do you know for sure it’s the real deal? Because someone says so? Because they have a LinkedIn profile? Do you verify the reference? I know, that’s jaded too.

Now employment verifications, where you call in to a set HR line and try to verify employment.  There has got to be a better way.  Multiple calls, waiting for call backs, sending in forms to verify release of information.  It’s insane.  A complete and total time suck.  Even if you are not doing them, you are waiting for them.  You hear the clock just going tick, tick, tick.

So here is my great big thought.  And I would love it if someone told me it existed, but I haven’t found this yet or how to leverage it.  If we can do criminal background checks and verify someone’s social security number, why can’t we create a national employment verification system?  In theory, the data exists and is already in the hands of the U.S government.  We get paychecks and pay social security (ding!).  We get paychecks and pay taxes (ding!).  Why can’t employers sign on to a national system, enter a social security number (which is a unique i.d.) and see someone’s entire employment history?

Wouldn’t the entire cycle of employment at each employer be in there and verified?  Salary information could be redacted so just dates and the unique identification number of each are confirmed.  It could be a fee-based system; many employers are already paying fees to agencies to do this work for them, so it would be a matter of redirecting payments from a private company to a government entity.  And those private verification firms may go out of business, but the employees may not be unemployed, they would just have a new employer.  And if just seeing dates of employment, unique identification and employer are not enough for you, I think that requires a release from the candidate (as probably does the other), but also an increased fee.

It sounds too easy.  I know as soon as you say “government” it sounds like it could be labor intensive, but in theory, it doesn’t seem like it is.  Security issues abound I’m sure.  Probably some kind of clearance would be required. But why not?  And really, why can’t it be like a birth certificate? Carry it around with a notary stamp on it to verify it.  Candidates can obtain an updated copy at anytime.

Could it be a profit center for the government?  I think so.  Especially as our economy continues to have more jobs than job seekers.  Costed out properly with an investment in the most important manpower with limited bureaucracy, it could work.

It’s a pipe dream, but it’s my pipe dream.  Big Brother, if you’re reading and you’re into this, let’s talk.


**As always, the viewpoints in the blog are mine and not related to or supported by my current employment or employer.**

Comments 8

  1. Pingback: What We Need Now In HR….A Better Employment Verification System - TAtech

  2. I have always appreciated the Military DD214 form. Dates of service, positions held, discharge status, training completed, honors/awards. Practically perfect job verification on a one-page form.

  3. Pingback: What We Need Now In HR….A Better Employment Verification System True Wage | Consulting, Compensation & Benefits

  4. Kelly,

    While I find your theory on a national employment verification system thought-provoking, I have to challenge your characterization of today’s reference check. While the rigmarole of a traditional reference check, from the phone tag to the potentially unhelpful responses from former managers, can be a real drain on resources – online reference checking has changed all of that. Online, confidential reference checking has revitalized the process and has helped overcome the cynicism some have about references – while actually delivering new predictive insights about candidates. At SkillSurvey, we create surveys that elicit structured job-specific feedback from references about observed past performance. While the traditional reference check takes weeks to complete, many of our clients complete reference checks in just a few days.

    Kelly – would be glad to talk further with you about this as well.

    1. Thanks Ray – a great thought – but what I’m truly interested in is quality employment verifications and having a national system that verifies off of W-2 or SS# seems to me in theory, the most accurate process (it seems to work really well for the military as our other commentor noted). I wonder how much goodwill our references have? How long will they spend on the structured feedback? Part of the reason references don’t engage is we push them to engage on demand and on our (their referencee’s future employer) timeline. I think that could be in part why they fail and in the fact that we are relying on candidate supplied information. I guess it wouldn’t be a “reference” it wasn’t candidate supplied. I want something more objective….more factual….and less subjective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *