Background Check Expert Explains Why Past Employment Checks Are Critical to Hiring Process at SHRM Talent Management Conference


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2017 Talent Management Conference & Exposition, Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), said “not checking the past employment of potential new hires is one of the biggest mistakes employers can make,” according to a SHRM article about the presentation.

“Many human resources professionals believe that how a person has performed in the past is the single best indicator of how they will perform for you at your business,” said Rosen, the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ and a frequent speaker on background check issues. He also said that an employer has a vested interest in finding out how successful the applicant was in previous jobs.

Rosen told SHRM that it is “always possible that a person’s past performance may have been hampered by factors beyond their control, such as a dysfunctional team, lack of clear goals or resources, or a supervisor that micromanaged or mismanaged. However, a new prospective employer still needs to try to obtain as much information as possible about past performance.”

Rosen described resumes as “essentially a marketing tool for an applicant” and said employers need to be concerned when “chest-puffing crosses the line into fabrication” since applicants who use lies and fabrications to get hired may continue with the same type of dishonesty once they have the job. He revealed that a few of the most common fabrications on resumes claimed by job applicants are:

  • False job titles.
  • Knowledge, skills, abilities or experience they don’t have.
  • Falsifying dates of employment to hide employment gaps.
  • Exaggerated past compensation.

Rosen recommended that employers search a minimum of five years when checking previous employment “although seven to 10 is much better.” He also reminded attendees of the 2017 SHRM Talent Management Conference – which took place April 24 to 26, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois – that the same standards that apply to interview questions also apply to reference checking.

“All questions must be specifically job-related and nondiscriminatory,” explained Rosen. “Never ask any question of a reference you would not ask the candidate face to face or put on an application. Focus on skills and accomplishments as well as performance issues that apply specifically to your job opening, such as the ability to meet deadlines or to work well with others on a team project.”

Rosen suggests starting “with a simple verification of start date, end date and job title” when talking with an applicant’s past employers. The article “Past Employment Checks Are Critical to the Hiring Process” by SHRM Online Manager/Editor Roy Maurer is at

As reported earlier by ESR News, Rosen also “presented how to successfully use social media for recruiting or background screening” in a second session at the SHRM 2017 Talent Management Conference. But he also warned attendees that if they use social media screening incorrectly that “there’s a world of privacy and discrimination problems that could arise.”

Founded by Rosen in 1997 in the San Francisco, California-area, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a global background check firm that accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and undergoes yearly SOC 2 audits to protect the security of consumer information. To learn more about ESR, visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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