What We Need Now In HR: A Better Employment Verification System

Kelly Dingee Kelly Dingee, Recruiting

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 had 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 let’s talk about employment verifications, where you call into a set HR line and try to verify employment–there has got to be a better way. Multiple calls, waiting for callbacks, sending in forms to verify the release of information.  It’s insane.  A complete and total time suck.  Even if you are not conducting 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 any time.

Could it be a profit center for the government?  I think so.  Especially as our economy continues to have more jobs than job seekers.  Cost 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.**