Image courtesy of Demorris Byrd
When do you need an employment verification letter?
If you’ve ever applied for a mortgage, credit card or lease, you’ve probably had to provide proof of employment. An employment verification letter is often required when applying for a job too.
Below we’ll look at what an employer verification letter is, the information it generally includes, who usually needs one, and how you get it.
What is an employer verification letter?
An employer verification letter (often emailed as an attachment rather than printed) is one that confirms your employment at an organization. It’s often requested by hiring managers and recruiters during the application process in order to verify an applicant’s work history on their resume.
Usually your approval is required in writing, authorizing release of that information. If you don’t agree to having the request, it could raise red flags. This is because “not all applicants are totally honest about their qualifications and may make some slight or even egregious misrepresentations of their educational and professional backgrounds,” according to background screening provider HireRight. In fact, their 2018 report says 84 percent of respondents “reported that background screening has exposed a person who lied on a resume.”
Note that a potential employer asking for an employment verification letter is not the same as asking, may we contact this employer? More on that below.
What does an employer verification letter include?
Generally, proof of employment letters contain exactly that: confirmation that the person in question worked at that company for a stated time period. Their position (or positions) held during their employment might be included as well as salary, job duties and performance assessments, and the reason why they left.
However, many companies choose to provide only those facts that can be most easily verified: the dates of employment and salary. This allows businesses to strictly comply with the law, which states that any information disclosed must be truthful. (Though keep in mind that in some states, it’s illegal for an employer to ask about your salary history.)
And in case you’re afraid a hiring manager might contact your former employer to dig for information, career consultant Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, says not to worry. “Don't assume that when you list your past employer on your resume or anywhere else, other employers will want to talk to your former boss,” she writes. “It's very unusual for companies to check references to that degree anymore. They are more likely to simply verify that you worked for the company than to take steps to actually converse with anyone there.”
Read more: I Was Laid Off. Now What?
Who needs an employment verification letter?
Other than a job applicant, whose letter is required to certify their employment history to a prospective employer, employment confirmation may be required as income verification when a person is applying for a large loan or mortgage.
Landlords sometimes also require proof of employment and may ask that the letter be authenticated by a notary public; however, many will accept supporting tax documents that show the same information. These might include paystubs, W-2 forms, or bank statements.
Read more: The Case for Job Hopping
Who do you ask for an employer verification letter?
You can typically ask your human resources department or office manager to provide you with an employment verification letter. You can also write it yourself and have it signed by the HR manager or your direct report.
Remember that companies are not legally obligated to provide employment verification, unless the request is submitted by a government agency.