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So I received a job offer recently, and I had to fill out my background employment details. There was this question-' May we contact the employer' and I had filled out as YES. I remembered after some days and emailed to the HR saying the background checking firm should contact once we are closer to a joining date and not now. Was this a good call? I hope I did not create a misleading assumption in the mind of the HR. What other way I could have resolved this?

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  • Do you mean about them contacting your current employer?
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 13:56
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    Yes I meant about contacting current employer. I meant misleading because I gave them the permission earlier and then it hit me that they might call before I give in my notice. So when I sent in an email to not contact would that create a bad impression for me? I know I should have just said NO the first way but this is my first time with a background check and hence the confusion Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 14:27
  • Is your real issue that you don’t want your current employer to know you want to, or will defintely, leave?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 14:56
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    Yes I definitely don't want my current employer to know. Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 15:00

3 Answers 3

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There wasn’t really any other way to resolve the issue by the time you became aware of it. Contacting the current employer is potentially a tricky situation, as the goals of the employer and the goals of the employee have diverged, but one party may be unaware of this fact. Which is why they ask permission to do so.

But once permission is given, when will be up to the potential employer and the people doing the background check. It maybe they will contact them first or last, before or after deciding upon you as a potential candidate. Your only recourse in the case of premature permission, is to contact the potential employer and tell them you need to update your answer.

Note that the potential employer is probably trying to do the right thing by you by asking this question, so I would expect them to do their best to accommodate you if possible. They most likely don’t need your permission in order to contact your current employer.

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There are two problems there, and one depends strongly on where you live.

The first problem is that your company can be contacted for a background check, and then your new job offer falls through, and your old company knows that you are looking for a new job. Which may very well be to your disadvantage.

The second problem is country dependent. It may be that the background checker has the legal right to ask your old company some questions whether you agree or not, and your company may be restricted in what they can answer. But by giving them permission you might also give them permission to ask any question and your old company might be allowed / required to answer these questions.

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Was this a good call?

We really can't say because we don't know for sure whether it made any difference. In all probability the company ordered the background check based on your initial response. Unless you heard back from them after you asked for the delay I wouldn't worry about it.

It is standard procedure when applying for a job to go through a background check, though not all jobs require one. Employers typically contract with a third-party company to perform that check, so it's unlikely your current employer will even know who is making the request.

Of course each company is different, but in most cases employment verification is very high level, and usually indistinguishable from the types of requests financial institutions or renters make, to ensure that you have a source of income.

The third-party company contacts HR and asks if you are currently employed, when you started to work there, and your title. They might also ask for the list of responsibilities that accompany your job description. It's not like the company is calling your manager or co-workers and telling them you've applied to work there.

Companies know that contacting current employers is a sensitive matter, and the responsible ones will verify employment in the least intrusive way possible. If you are at all worried, you should contact HR at the company who gave you the offer and ask about their employment verification process. You'll probably find little cause for concern.

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