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I am a PhD student and I am approaching the end of my class. I have received a job offer from a company, and they want me to provide the history of my previous employment.

I did an internship at a startup four years ago for two months, and I have a good reputation there. I have listed this company in my CV for my previous experience.

My current company might contact the startup. Would it be appropriate for me to send a message to the founders of the startup that they might be contacted by my future employer, even if I have not contacted the startup for four years?

Or would it be better to just fill the background check form and do nothing?

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Should I send a message to the founders of the startup that there might be contacted by my future employer, even if I have not contacted the startup for four years?

If you are providing references (names of individuals) at this startup, then you should contact them to give them a heads up.

But if you are just providing company names, then there is no need to contact the employer from four years in the past.

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    +1 Yes, it's important to distinguish between a reference, who is supposed to speak to your character and work ability, and a background check, which usually just verifies employment dates. – David K Aug 1 '18 at 12:26
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If you are only providing a point of contact then most of the time the background check is just verifying dates of employment, and possibly job title. They may also try and get information about the reason why you left. Many companies will only provide the basic facts. Most of the time this information is provided by HR, but it could even an outside organization. The background check staff doesn't expect to talk to people who ever meet you.

Now if the new employer is looking for you to provide references, then it is advisable for you to contact those individuals so they can be prepared for a longer discussion.

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No. You generally don't have to contact previous employers to warn them that a reference is being saught.

Just carry on with your applications and let the relevant HR departments take care of the rest.

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