Pre-Hire Employment Verifications in 2023: What You Need to Know

November 07, 2023

WITH 9.6 MILLION JOB OPENINGS at the end of August, employers are under pressure to fill open roles quickly. For job seekers, who are most likely applying for multiple positions at once, speed also matters. In fact, candidates are typically only available for 10 days before being hired - meaning the faster a potential employer can confirm your qualifications and extend you an offer, the more likely you may be to accept that role. 

How can employers more efficiently verify your relevant work experience and help you feel energized to accept their offer and start work faster? They could spend the time tracking down and calling your previous employers to confirm your qualifications. Alternatively, employers can leverage automated, digital services to verify previous employment experience. Many employers rely on The Work Number® from Equifax to conduct pre-hire employment verifications, helping to speed up their hiring process. 

What is a pre-hire employment verification? 

A pre-hire employment verification occurs when you apply for a job and the employer verifies where you’ve worked in the past. This process can help the employer ensure you are a good fit for the role.

How does Equifax help with pre-hire employment verifications?

Equifax operates a service called The Work Number. When you apply for a job, and the employer (or a background screener acting on behalf of the employer) wants to verify your past employment, The Work Number can often provide them with that verification sourced from data that comes directly from employers. Our instant digital verifications help make the process easier and more efficient for you as the candidate as well as for the employer.

How does a pre-hire employment verification from The Work Number benefit me as a job applicant? 

When a potential employer verifies your employment through The Work Number, they receive an instant report with the requested information. The process is fast and automated. This means less work for you – unlike other verification options that may require you to set up an account with a third-party service and share access to your personal information, or to seek an official letter from your current or previous employer(s). This also means that The Work Number is more discreet – it won’t notify your current employer that you are actively seeking a new role.

What information does a pre-hire employment verification include?

A pre-hire employment verification typically provides a report that shows the potential employer where you have worked in the past. It may include details such as employer names, job titles, hire and separation dates, tenures and current employment status.

A common question is whether employers use The Work Number to access the income of prospective employees. In practice, this occurs only in rare circumstances and prospective employers must comply with all laws within their jurisdictions. Additionally, Equifax requires all verifiers to obtain consent from the consumer prior to obtaining income information from The Work Number.  

Does a prospective employer need my permission to verify my employment information? 

Yes. Prospective employers can only access your employment information from The Work Number with your permission. Typically, they provide a document for you to sign disclosing that they will verify your employment history and may use a consumer reporting agency (such as Equifax, which operates The Work Number) to do so. 

A federal law, called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), governs how information collected by consumer reporting agencies can be used and accessed. Under the FCRA, any employer or background screener (often referred to as a “verifier”) requesting your information must undergo a thorough credentialing process and have a legally required, permissible purpose for accessing your data. 

And with The Work Number, you can rest assured that your personal data is not being sold to data brokers or other entities for marketing or additional purposes beyond the scope of the FCRA. 

How can I review my employment data on The Work Number? 

To better prepare yourself for the job search, it’s important for you to understand what information employers may have available about your employment history. By visiting the “My Personal Data” section of our website, you can view and manage your employment data by downloading your Employment Data Report (EDR). Your EDR will include a historical list of all income and employment records that any employer has provided to The Work Number. Additionally, you’ll also see a list of every entity that has requested information on you through The Work Number within the past 24 months. 

It’s important to note that prospective employers do not receive your EDR. Rather, they receive a different report that includes only the specific information requested. Often this focuses on your most recent employment records, and rarely does it include income information. Regardless of what information they might request, they would need your permission first.

Also, keep in mind that it’s normal for your EDR to contain information from some employers but not others. That’s because not all employers participate in The Work Number service.

How can I take more control of my employment data? 

The Work Number receives data directly from employers and payroll providers, helping maintain its accuracy. However, if you believe any information in your EDR may be inaccurate, you can dispute it under provisions of the FCRA.  

In addition, you can prevent access to your employment information with a data freeze. This freeze means that verifiers (such as potential employers) will be unable to view your data from The Work Number. Just keep in mind that a freeze could slow down your application process. You can request a data freeze or dispute data at any time and at no cost by visiting The Work Number website.