In a background check process, sometimes called employment verification, your prospective employer wants to make sure that everything you told them about your employment history is true. Your past employers can’t verify your salary history without your written permission. However, if you filled out an online job application you may have given that permission without even realizing it. In the background check process, they’re also going to verify the dates of your employment and your job titles.
“May we contact this employer?”
There are many difficult questions on job applications, but possibly few are trickier than the inevitable “May we contact this employer?” While there are plenty of reasons why a candidate may not want their supervisor to be contacted, most professionals don’t want their current employer to know that they are interviewing elsewhere. Those who have been previously laid off— an already difficult topic to address — or had a bad experience at the company may even prefer to avoid contact with particular past employers at all costs. If you do grant them permission, they may still double check with you beforehand as a precaution. An acceptable answer, should this be the case, is “certainly—providing I’m one of the top candidates for the position.”
For Your Reference
The accepted HR practice is that you can get references from any other employer, but not from a job seeker’s current place of employment. If they aren’t impressed enough by your background to hire you without a reference from your current workplace, then they should hire somebody else. Presumably, you’ve given them a list of three to five references they can contact. If that’s not good enough for them, they aren’t the right employer for you.
After four interviews and a standard employment-verification process, your prospective new boss should be ready to fish or cut bait. There is no reason for them to talk to your current boss before hiring you. You may already have taken a risk, possibly launching a stealth job search in the first place. Here in the U.S., you can get fired just for the crime of job-hunting while employed.
Putting Things Into Perspective
Let’s put this into perspective. The hiring team already has a lot more information about you than you have about them. They have your resume and can look at your LinkedIn profile. “Recommendations” other LinkedIn users have written about you are also visible. The hiring team can ask you any question they want regarding your background and skills. Most importantly, they’ve interviewed you multiple times. At this point, they should be able to make a decision based on their own judgment.