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I'm filling out a job application while I am employed and I don't want my employer to know I am looking for another job. Is it a bad idea to ever check the 'No' option for 'May we contact your employer at time of background investigation'? Or is this done after I've accepted the position and there's nothing to worry about?

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Is it a bad idea to ever check the 'No' option for 'May we contact your employer at time of background investigation'? Or is this done after I've accepted the position and there's nothing to worry about?

The fact that the employment application includes a 'Yes' and 'No' selection implies that you might want to be concerned.

Unless there is something specific on the job application, you must assume that the background check occurs before a formal offer and acceptance.

Thus, if you don't want your previous employer to know you are looking elsewhere, you should check 'No'.

It shouldn't be a bad idea in this case.

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    I agree. The last thing you want to do is to surprise your current employer and then for the one your applying for to turn you down. You, however, may be asked (not sure) why you didn't want them to during an interview. Just have a clean explanation prepared in case it would come up. – Xrylite Sep 30 '14 at 23:00
  • This isn't completely correct. Many times H.R. folks know that current employer should not b contacted. Verification of employment is one thing. The way to get around that is to just offer a reference from a current job. That way the dialogue is verbal. And discretion is respected. – JakeGould Oct 1 '14 at 5:12
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    I can't speak for all industries, but in the software industry background checks often tend not to be completed until after the employee has already started. There is usually something in the offer letter indicating that employment is contingent on the completion of the background check and that employment is probationary until it is complete. – Joel Etherton Oct 1 '14 at 12:44
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    @joel, I am in IT and have never had a job where the background check wasn't done first unless a security clearance (whcih can take months) was involved. – HLGEM Oct 1 '14 at 17:47
  • @HLGEM: I did say I can't speak for all industries. That would go as well for all regions. YMMV. I've been given several offers in the past with the background check language in it and an offer to start immediately anyway. I've always worked out a way to make sure I started after the check was complete just because I don't like surprises when it comes to my job. – Joel Etherton Oct 1 '14 at 18:05
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They won't bother with a background investigation until they've got the pool of candidates narrowed down to the top candidate plus a couple of alternates. Given the ratio of candidates to position, the logistics and cost of an early stage background check would be daunting to employers. It's a lot cheaper to run a background check on the 3 finalists than on the 300 candidates who originally applied. And a lot less time consuming.

  • @JoeStrazzere You and I know that all job offers are final, pending a background check. That is,if the background check doesn't pan out, the offer is rescinded. The OP can choose between a final offer with the background check, or nothing at all. The only difference between a final offer pending a background check and a background check before final offer is a bunch of words. Either way, no final offer is not final until the background check is concluded. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 1 '14 at 11:10

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