What should former employers do?
o Sometimes a prospective employer will call a former employer regarding a potential employee in an attempt to get a reference. What should the former employer say or do? The answer is very simple: tell the prospective employer ONLY the dates of employment of a former employee.
o The former employer may know of behavior that is unprofessional, but revealing that to a future employer can be fraught with legal dangers. The information in an employee’s annual evaluation is typically a judgment call by a supervisor. That opinion can be the result of several factors, even emotional reactions to a specific situation. Years later, those emotions and decisions may no longer be valid. Thus, only the facts related to the former employee’s employment dates should be given.
What should a prospective employer do?
o Always call a former employer of a prospective employee. I suggest calling one or two immediate prior employers to see if there is anything which the prospective employer should be aware of. While a former employer may not give information (see above section), some will.
o Get information about personal relationships and professional behavior – asking about those two items may lead to knowledge that will affect the hiring decision.
o If a former employer will not provide any information, then ask the following question: “Would you hire this person back?” The former employer may not give a full verbal answer, but the way they answer that question might provide all the information needed. Listen closely.