What Can Employers Say About Former Employees?

What Can Employers Say About Former Employees?

One of the questions job seekers often ask is "What can an employer say about former employees?" Some job seekers believe companies can only legally release dates of employment, salary, and your job title. However, that's not the case.

Can an employer say a former employee was fired or terminated for cause? How about saying that you quit without notice, were frequently tardy, or performed poorly on the job?


Also, not telling the truth during the application process can get you fired at any time in the future – even years after you were hired. That's because most job applications have a section where you verify the information is accurate.

Don't Presume the Company Won't Give Out Information

Don't presume that your former employer won't disclose the reason why your job ended. Large companies typically have policies regarding the disclosure of former employee information, but may not. Many smaller employers don't have a policy at all or aren't aware of or concerned about legal liability issues.

In either case, it's important to know what the employer is going to say about you, because what you say needs to match what the company is going to say.

If your version doesn't match theirs and you feel the company's story about your termination isn't accurate, be upfront and say so.

You'll have a better chance of getting the job than if you say one thing and the company says another.

Finally, if you anticipate a negative reference from a former employer, share additional references. If you didn't get along with your manager, for instance, provide a peer as a reference as well. Or, provide reference options from jobs earlier in your career. One negative reference will seem less meaningful if there are many positive references available as well. 

More About References

  • Questions Asked During a Reference Check
  • Will Employers Check Your References?
  • Background Checks for Employment

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