It’s a fact: job seekers often lie on their resumés. A 2023 survey by resumé writing company StandOutCV makes that clear. In that survey, 55 percent of workers said they had lied on a resumé. That means tens of millions of Americans have potentially embellished their CVs to secure employment. Is there an employment background check for past employers? That’s a question many employers ask in today’s climate.

There’s a valid reason for concern. Lies might appear on any part of a resumé. However, the StandOutCV survey found that the two most common lies concern past employers. The first is when applicants lie about previous job experience. The second involves falsifying skills or accomplishments from past jobs. Such widespread dishonesty puts employers in a challenging position. After all, many hiring decisions depend on past job experiences.

If candidates falsify their experience, how can employers make informed decisions about who to hire? The answer may lie in better vetting practices. Do background checks show employment history? That depends on the type of background check you use. You must understand the different tools available to employers. Let’s explore the key facts surrounding this critical process.

What a Background Check Can See

Resumé lies often leave hiring managers asking one key question. Is there a background check for employment history?

The simple answer is no. Usually, a background check refers to criminal history screening. These checks only return criminal history data. No screening service can definitively list all of an individual’s past employers. Why? There is no database of such information as with criminal records. Employment history is not a matter of public record. Most background checks, on the other hand, seek to uncover public records. This search often includes criminal history or a driving record.

Employment history may be an essential influence on your hiring decision. However, it isn’t part of the public record like a felony conviction. Does that mean you have no recourse? Not at all. There are other options employers may explore.

Background screening companies can assist employers in detecting resumé dishonesty. The good news is that employers don’t need a background search to do so. There’s no need to wonder how to find work history for free. You can use the resumé information as the basis for your vetting.

How Employment History Screening Works in Practice

Candidates usually provide a list of past employers while filling out job applications. Some companies ask for information on an applicant’s last three jobs. Others ask for all jobs worked over a period of years instead. Since this is where candidates might be untruthful, your screening efforts should focus here. Uncovering jobs an applicant didn’t report is less critical than verifying those they did.

A background check company can help verify work history information reported by candidates. At, we offer an employment history background check that’s easy to use. On your behalf, we contact the employers listed by applicants. In doing so, we help hiring managers determine whether applicants were truthful in their application.

What Can You Learn From Verifying Employment Information?

Using our employment history verification product is simple. Employers share the data provided by applicants about past job positions. then contacts those companies to verify crucial details about the individual.

These details might include:

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

Our verification check will uncover whether candidates fabricated or embellished parts of their work history. Will a job termination show up on a background check like this one? It’s possible. Some employers will report rehire eligibility. If someone isn’t eligible for rehiring, the employer may have fired them. Sometimes, employers will be forthright and confirm that they fired the employee.

However, former employers will not always want to discuss these details. Most will choose to shield themselves from potential liability as a best practice.

Falsehoods found in an applicant’s employment history are a red flag in a background check. Employers should evaluate the relevance and severity of these issues. Some mistakes could be simple human error. Others might be deliberate attempts to mislead. Employment dates that are a few months off might be a harmless mistake. Fake job titles or wholly fabricated positions are warning signs.

Work history verifications differ from reference checks. The goal is not necessarily to discover a candidate’s work ethic or character. Asking about these details is generally a subjective pursuit. Instead, verifying resume data is about finding hard facts regarding employment dates or titles.

Legal and Compliance Concerns

Be aware that businesses don’t want to invite unnecessary legal headaches. Many employers worry about facing defamation lawsuits from previous employees. It could put them at risk if they didn’t prove what they say with evidence. HR teams focus on providing only the most objective facts about past workers for these reasons. Most will do their best to avoid tiptoeing into subjective judgments.

Beware of asking about salary information. Most employers won’t discuss what compensation previous employees earned. In some states, using this information for hiring may even be illegal. Check the law in your state before asking applicants for this information.

A potential employer wishing to explore more subjective opinions should perform professional reference checks instead. Checking references is a standard part of an employee background check process. The applicant has implicit permission for references to discuss them in detail with employers. can also perform reference checks on your behalf. Consider packaging these efforts alongside criminal record screenings and job history background checks. We also offer two other checks for education verification and checking professional licenses. Verifying all parts of an applicant’s resumé is a wise choice.

What if I Forget to List a Job?

If you are a job seeker, you have a significant task when assembling a resumé. There is an art to crafting a perfect resumé. That challenge often prompts some candidates to stretch the truth.

However, employers and applicants alike may worry about omissions. An applicant might forget to list a short-term job from five or six years ago. Someone deep into their career might not have space to fit their entire history. Applicants fired from a previous job might not report that employer at all.

Can a background check show these unlisted jobs? No. Again, there is no central database compiling all a person’s workplaces. Hiring managers may never know when an applicant didn’t list a job. Some signs might tip off an HR team that an applicant didn’t report everything.

Exploring Resumé Gaps

Employers do pay attention to hiring and departure dates when reviewing resumés. An applicant who forgets or omits a job might have a notable work history gap. That gap may raise some yellow flags of caution for the employer. If a gap in your job history is long enough, it might cause a hiring manager to suspect a concealed termination. Alternatively, hiring managers might conclude an applicant’s work ethic based on long periods of unemployment.

Concerns about resumé gaps may cause job seekers to create fabrications. To hide a gap, someone might embellish their start and end dates. Some people may even invent jobs. Applicants must not give in to temptation and use these “adjustments.”

Employment verifications can and will flag these anomalies. Most employers will look less kindly on a falsehood than on a three-month gap between jobs. According to a study by ResumeLab, 65 percent of candidates caught lying were either disqualified or fired.


What does a background check show about employment history?

A background check based on public records shows nothing about employment history. These tools only check for public data, such as criminal records. This type of search is what most people mean when they say “background check.” These searches show conviction records, not records of an applicant’s employment details over the years. Employers must use a different type of approach to confirm employment history.

This approach is the employment verification check. Employers verify professional history by contacting employers and applicant reports on their application. Past employers can then confirm or deny the accuracy of your applicant’s data.

Do employers contact previous employers?

In many cases, employers will contact an applicant’s previous employers. This step is standard when employers conduct a background check that examines more than criminal records. It is best practice to confirm that an applicant has the appropriate experience. Work history becomes even more critical beyond entry-level positions. Applicants should expect that a company will want to verify their employment history claims.

How do background check companies verify employment history?

An employment verification check involves contacting the previous employers listed on a candidate’s resumé. You then ask them to verify the accuracy of critical information provided by the applicant. Specifically, the background check company will ask about the following:

  • Positions held
  • Official job titles
  • Dates of employment
  • Job responsibilities or job description
  • Reason for leaving
  • Rehire eligibility

The background check company then reports to the hiring manager who ordered the check. If the information is accurate, the check returns clean. Otherwise, the employer can uncover discrepancies in the applicant’s information.

Can you lie about your employment history?

Applicants can falsify employment history on a resumé or job application. That doesn’t make it a wise move – employers want to know they can hire a qualified candidate who is also someone they can trust. Even a minor lie on a resumé can be a breach of trust. An exaggerated job title or inflated employment dates could end the hiring process. Most employers use a job history verification process that can easily disprove lies on a resumé. Such tools make it particularly risky to be dishonest about past work.

Can an employer know your employment history?

Yes, but employers only know what an applicant tells them. A business can require someone to report information about past employment as part of the application process. However, there are regulations involved. Hiring managers must notify applicants of their intent to use background checks, such as employment verification. They must also obtain the applicant’s written consent to the check. These are requirements laid out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA.

Failure to comply with the FCRA can leave employers vulnerable to lawsuits. Always follow regulations when conducting an employment background check. Past employers must also follow the law on what they can disclose. However, if an applicant refuses to supply information, you can dismiss them from consideration without further action.


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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

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

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