I've worked as a contractor at one of the largest tech companies in the US for over 2 years. My job was no different than my officially "badged" peers except that I was paid by another agency. Because of budget the company hasn't been able to convert contractors to official employees like before (they used to do a blanket conversion every other year).

When I left, my manager told me that I could say I worked for the company "because you ARE a ____ employee here as much as I am and deserve to say you are" and to put her down as a reference in job applications instead of HR.

I'd love to use the company's name to help boost my success in future job applications but wanted to know how detailed background/employee work history checks can be. In previous experience it's usually a 3rd party and they basically call the references I provided to prove I worked there--if they decide to check at all. Do they ever get more detailed than that?

Any advice on this would be appreciated.


You didn't work for BIGCorp, and their HR department will be quick to point that out if a background check company calls them.

However, what you might do is format your resume to look something like

2012 - 2014 NoNameConsulting, on assignment to BIGCorp

Spent the entire time working at BIGCorp in the XYZ department on the TopSecret project. The manager of the XYZ department is one of my references.

That way you get to name drop without confusing the background check people.

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    YES! Actually being a contractor means that you were not on the company's payroll so typically the HR department (which may be the only people permitted to provide a reference - depends on company policy) is even likely to not know about your existence at all (because they may not even legally be allowed to due to data privacy reasons). As such, it is imperative to clarify on whose payroll you actually were if confirming employment history and position held, otherwise this may easily result in all sorts of misunderstandings and you not getting the job. – Eleshar Dec 10 '16 at 18:45

If you are doing work that requires a security clearance, they'll check everything. When I applied for the lowest level of security clearance from Uncle Sam in 2002, Uncle Sam wanted me to list every place of employment where I had been for two weeks or more. If Uncle Sam's investigation checked out, you get your security clearance within three months. In my case, Uncle Sam never replied.

I'd say at the minimum, every prospective employer will attempt to verify employments dates. I want work for a $US 40 billion IT consulting firm. They were quite anal in verifying employment, asking for check stubs - I got no end of grief because the former client was paying me off his payroll service and I never got any images of paychecks from the payroll service he was using. Add to that that the client played possum every time I initiated contact with him. I fully recognize the importance of HR verifying employment dates because the firm's client is a medical provider and is thus heavily regulated.

As long as they discover that you weren't in the Big House or in the nut house at the time you claimed you were working and in the gaps you have in your resume, you should be at least half way there so far as verification is concerned.

Frankly, you are asking a question that is company policy specific as well as economic sector specific - a defense contractor will be anal about verifying anything you claim and going over every gap in your resume whereas McDo will be a lot less strict.

Before I worked at my current job, I was at a small high tech consulting firm that never made any pretense of checking anything. They didn't care about references or dates of employment because so far as I was concerned, I had to satisfy them every day that I deserved to show up for work the next day. I did it, day by day for 7+ years.

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