I have been out of the workforce for far too long. I really need to find a job but now I am having trouble remembering the dates of previous jobs ( start-stop dates ). Can I get that information like employers would? I would be able to know what I am telling them matches what they will see. Thank you in advance for any help with this matter.
A couple ideas.
1) Any old resume's. Do you have any old resume's around from last time you were job hunting? Even old hard copies would have the dates you used then.
2) Any job boards you might have used in the past? Even if you can't remember your account info and can't reset your password you may still be able to view the info.
3) Old tax info or pay stubs? You got paid back then so do you have any payroll information still around?
4) Does it really matter? If it is long enough ago that you don't remember you can be more vague on your resume. For some of my oldest jobs on my resume I just list the years without even a month for start and end date. If it was 5 years ago even the month and year is probably enough and even if the month is off it's likely not going to be that big an issue if it even gets noticed.
Let me give you a dose of reality.
At some point you're going to get a job offer (with whatever you put on your resume) because statistically, it's bound to happen. And and some point, one of those jobs is going to do a (drumroll please) ...
When that day comes, you need to have that information, period. They will pay a company to look into your job history to make sure you're not completely full of crap. And if they don't match up (i.e. you're full of crap), you can kiss that job goodbye.
The bottom line is that you need to find that information somehow. Call the HR department of every company you worked for and enlist their help. If you're nice and friendly, you probably won't get too much resistance. At the minimum, you can get a copy of your personnel file which they can likely charge you for but at least you'll have the information.
It might be a hassle, but it's worth the time you spend to do that. It's just going to take a lot of leg work on your part. Because I'm not kidding, if you get a job that requires a background check and the history doesn't match up, you're out of that job.
You might also look at old bank statements, and even better at old tax returns. And you can always ask HR in an old company.
There are jobs where I don't remember the month but I do remember the year. I also keep old copies of resumes to remind myself where I was and update my resume continuously to include what new things I've learned, etc. Surely you must have an old resume hiding somewhere, and sometimes if you got some milestone award from a job, that might register some memories for you to pin down a year. Some jobs insist on knowing a month even a day you started, but I keep it generalized to the year started and year ended. If they want more details, and I have a 20 plus year resume, I state that it's been a while so I don't exactly recall the month. Most people, if they bothered to read your resume and are interested in you, don't bring this up.
1) Exact dates are usually not important. It doesn't usually matter if you started on June 1st or June 21st. Personally, I only list month and year on my resume. If you can at least remember the season you worked (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring), then you can pick a month from there and it'll probably be correct, or at least close enough. If you have trouble remembering this, my suggestion would be to try to remember what the weather was like or what you wore during the first week, and that should give you at least some indication.
2) If you absolutely cannot remember even the season you started/ended work, then just listing the year should be fine. Just mention to the employer that you could not remember the exact dates so when they do the background check they know that the information mishap is on you.
3) Always remember: Honesty is the best policy. If you are missing information, then just say you are missing information, because you forgot it or whatever. They won't (or shouldn't) hold that against you, especially if you're new to the workforce and don't know better. The worst thing you can do is make up a date, put it on the resume, and have that date be shown false in the background check. That would be even worse. Just mention "I think it was around this time" or whatever, so they have a heads up.