Human Resources Employment Verification Employee

Verification 101: How long does employment verification take?

Employment verification can help you ensure that your new employees have been honest during the earlier stages of the hiring process. But, how long does employment verification take? When employers and candidates both do everything perfectly, a Verification of Employment (VoE) can take as little as one business day. But certain common issues can extend the VoE process over several days.

How Long Does Employment Verification Take?

Employment verification is fairly straightforward when things go well and doesn’t require an extensive amount of information. A basic employment verification includes the following information:

  • Company name
  • Employee start date
  • Employee end date

If that’s all the information you need to make a hiring decision, the employment verification process will likely be quite swift; anyone in the employee’s HR department can quickly provide the answers. However, employers often need more details, and the more you ask for, the longer the VoE process can become.

HR staff for companies using manual processes for employment verification often need to put in considerable time tracking down various types of information. This information can span across payroll and other systems, which can add hours or even days to the VoE process. For example, the HR manager for the personal finance website The Motley Fool found she was taking at least two hours per week just processing VoEs for the Fool’s 315 employees. This eventually inspired her to switch to Truework.

Requesting information that’s not immediately available to HR personnel will slow down the verification process even further. For instance, employers often want to know the reason why a candidate left their previous job. In that situation, you may need to speak directly with the candidate’s former manager. But finding and connecting with that person can add considerable time to completing the VoE.

But, beyond these general scenarios, there are some very common delays that can throw off the entire process.

Common Employment Verification Delays

Verification complexity aside, both employers and employees can accidentally introduce factors that will slow down the VoE process or even bring it grinding to a halt. This process should take several days at most, but the following delays can extend that well beyond the estimated time.

Wrong or missing contact information

Despite their best efforts, candidates may not provide all the information you need to reach a former employer. Sometimes, crucial information, such as a phone number, is completely missing. In other cases, the phone number or address from a candidate’s resume may be out of date, especially for employers from many years prior. To minimize these delays, encourage candidates to double-check contact information and explain exactly what you need from them to conduct a verification.

If you have a VoE to conduct and don’t have correct contact information, an online search is usually the fastest and best way to track down a company. Try searching for “ HR” to identify the direct number for human resources. If that doesn’t work, look for the company’s main phone number and ask the operator to connect you with HR.

Employers are no longer in business

If a candidate’s former employer is no longer around, tracking down their employment details can be difficult to impossible. Usually, the only way to get that information is to track down a former manager at their new place of employment. Candidates can help immensely by providing personal phone numbers or email addresses for those managers.

When all else fails, you can dig online (try LinkedIn) and see if the manager from the employee’s old workplace is available to contact somewhere else.

Employers are located in other states

Different states have different rules about what information employers must release during employment verification. The information you request may be covered under the laws of your state but out of bounds for employers in other states.

For example, in Texas, former employers can provide specific dates on an employee's hire and departure, whereas, in Arkansas, they can only confirm a person was previously an employee.

Unfortunately, many employers won’t release any information that’s not required by state law because they fear lawsuits from angry former employees.

Before you call an employer in another state, check this list of VoE limitations by state to confirm that you can indeed get answers to all of your questions. If you want information that’s not specifically required under that state’s laws, you can go ahead and ask for it, but employers in that state may refuse to provide the information. In that case, you’ll either have to proceed without it or write off the candidate.

Employers have multiple locations

Sizable companies may have offices all over the country or even in other countries. This can make it much harder to track down the people who have the information you need to complete your employment verification. With large former employers, it can help to get more specific contact information from the candidate.

At a minimum, ask for the previous manager’s name, direct extension, and the general contact number for that office or branch. Without such specific details, you’ll likely need to start by contacting the employer’s corporate headquarters and getting a phone number for the correct branch from them.

Employers have special rules for employment verification requests

Some companies put certain limitations on their VoEs over and above the ones imposed by state and federal laws. For example, they may only be willing to work with a specific third-party provider or may require a physical signature on the request rather than accepting an electronic one. Such requirements can add unavoidable delays to the entire process.

For employers requiring a physical signature, the fastest way to proceed is usually to scan the signed document and email it to the employer. If the employer insists on having the original document, you’ll need to settle for dropping it off (for local companies) or mailing it instead, which will slow the VoE down even further.

Speeding Up Employment Verifications

The typical employment verification can be delayed by a number of different factors, some of which are beyond your control. And the more information you’re verifying, the longer the process can take, even if everything goes perfectly.

You can minimize delays by double-checking resumes and other candidate-provided information to confirm they’ve provided all necessary details and by using the right tools (such as Truework) to streamline VoEs.

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