When a Potential Employer Seems Unnervingly Nosy

from NYTs

I had an interview for a fantastic job. However, the prospective employer asked me to sign a form that says: “I expressly authorize my previous employers to provide information and opinions concerning my work and work habits.” It goes on to say that I will allow them to “provide salary history” and that I “release” them “and persons connected with any requests for information from all claims, liabilities, and damages for whatever reason, arising out of furnishing any information that may be sought in arriving at an employment decision.” I’m fine with providing references who have my permission to speak freely. But I’m not O.K. with giving permission to find out anything other than my dates of employment from other previous employers. I didn’t want to sign the form, but assumed they may not interview me if I don’t. What are my rights in this situation?

Moe here.

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14 Responses to When a Potential Employer Seems Unnervingly Nosy

  1. Anthony Laverde April 24, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    Prior employment history provides information of an important topic a potential future employer must entertain and become familiar with before he or she decides weather or not to hire somebody. That said, many employers do seek the aid of third party services when conducting a proper background check. These services provide the person of interest consent to being checked in writing. This is in accordance to the Fair credit reporting act, which was passed in 1970, helped promote and ensure the the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of consumer reporting agencies. Since all of these third party agencies require written signatures to satisfy the legislation passed by President Nixon, it has become common for employers to request disclosure forms and requests for permission to search for these various things. That said, these disclosure agreements are usually straightforward and consistent throughout any agency; this request to be granted permission to view prior salaries and thins of that nature is quite peculiar. This serves no real purpose, except if the employer is looking to leverage previous salaries to the potential employee should he extend a job offer, and it is unfair. There are certain regulations that prevent some level of interrogation between prior employer and potential future employers. That does include talking about or including financial statements and salary compensations. This is illegal in many states and cities in government across the country. However, producing this document allowed this employer to do so, because the man signed away his rights to privacy in that aspect. The man noted he was uncomfortable in the situation, rightfully so, but he felt his failure to comply would eliminate him from the job consideration. This burden puts pressure on us a job seekers to comply with outrageous demands from employers, and things like this should be prohibited and heavily regulated. Despite not being an independent contractor job in a labor market, I believe it is possible that labor unions can set a precedent by fighting against employer abuse of power like this. Huge unions with resources and power, such as the Teamsters, can work to eliminate these special requests from disclosure agreements, and put pressure on company board members or even the government to regulate these wrongful practices.

    I have always been a fan of labor unions for a long time, and I appreciate the way they transferred the power from being in the hands of employers to being in the hands of employees. Again, sadly, unions only thrive in markets that require independent contractors, labor jobs make up the majority of unionized workers. There are exceptions of course, my brother is in a union and he is a pharmacy technician at a local CVS drug store. They help insure stability and protect him from wrongful termination. The closest thing corporate jobs have to this is a human resources representative whose job it is to monitor the well being of employees and ensure they are being treated fairly. If they are given even more power, however, they can do extreme good for employees in the corporate world, and ensure employers like the one described above does not request such sensitive information from workers.

  2. Lauren Burbank April 25, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    I am more annoyed with the idea of a company monitoring personal social media accounts than I am with them calling past employers and asking in-depth questions. I don’t think that my salary history should be accessible to potential employers because what I was previously paid should not determine how much a new job is willing to pay me. I feel this is a way to give new hires the least amount of income possible, which I’m against. People who work full time spend most of their lives at their jobs, whether physically in the office or travelling for their jobs, we shouldn’t look to low ball them when it comes to salary, especially now where the cost of living is becoming near impossible.
    I do think that all employers should need to sign a document where any questions they answer on a past employee are recorded and available tot that employee if requested. There should never be any non-professional language involved, and any criticisms made should have some kind of record that backs them up. For example, if a past employer tells a new potential employer that someone was always late, there should be some kind of corrective action documentation that proves it’s true. This may seem like extra work, but if a potential employer wants that much information and free range than they should be willing to sign forms on the opposite side/part that they would be involved in.
    Regarding the social media privacy, I believe that if my company is not listed on my profile and what I’m posting is unrelated to my company, my social media accounts should not be subject to disciplinary action. Obviously there are things you just shouldn’t post about, but I’ve read stories of people being fired or written up over things that I felt the company had no business in getting involved in. When someone is no longer clocked in and they are on their own time, they shouldn’t be monitored or policed by their employer. As I mentioned before, most full time employees spend most of their time at their workplace. Subjecting them to disciplinary action for what they do on their own time is exceeding their boundaries in my opinion.

  3. Alex Strom April 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm #

    Reading a contract before you sign it is vitally important, because you do not know what you are binding yourself to once you sign it if you do not read it. You could be singing away all of your possessions, so it is vital that you always read contracts before you sign them. If there is someone that is trying their best to get you to sign something by doing whatever they can to convince you, you should be careful and read over the whole contract before signing it. You can never fully trust anyone but yourself, so you should read every contract before you sign it.
    This article, which was written by Rob Walker on the New York Times, starts off by giving an example of a person named Dave who was skeptical about signing a contract for a potential future employer. Dave was skeptical about singing a contract that allows the future employer to see all of his work history, which includes wages and other elements. He did not want all of this information to be disclosed, which can be seen as a negative thing by the employers. Future employers do not need your permission to talk to your previous employers, so you are not fully protected from this even if you do not sign the contract. Your past employers do not have to give up any information about you, but they are allowed to be contacted if requested. Leaving a bad job behind may be hard because of this process, depending on what kind of situation you left. If you put your 2 week notice in and let higher ups know that you were not working there anymore, then you probably will not have any problems. However, if you left your previous workplace on bad terms, they may not stick up for you when you are trying to find another job.
    Hiring new people for a work force is very hard, because you never know what kind of people you are dealing with. You have to try and pick the best person for that job in your opinion, based on a couple sheets of paper, and maybe a few sessions where you asked them a series of questions. For the most part, you do not know who you are hiring so it is risky. If you have a degree, then you are going to have a better chance at getting a job, that is just how it works. Another element that can effect whether you get a job or not is your criminal record. In many cases, if you have a felony, you will not get hired. Many applications have a box option where you check yes or no to whether you have a felony. If you check yes on in the box, your application will most likely get thrown out. That is just how it works in America, as unfortunate as it is, and people that have felonies have to cope with that. This is something that is very ironic, because we as a society say that jail is a place where a person goes to get “fit” for society again. Once they are out and “fit” for society again, they can not find a job, so they have to go back to old habits. This is a part of the vicious cycle that many Americans find themselves a part of every day, which is something that needs to be addressed. Something that is very positive and hopeful for the future is that some companies are hiring only ex-felons. This gives an opportunity to people who do not have any other options, so the people who work are very grateful. They are found actually to be more productive, which is probably because they feel like they have a chip on their shoulder and that they have something to prove. Hiring new people is never easy to do, and new ideas have proven to be successful when hiring new people.

  4. Joshua Luchon April 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    First, let me start by saying the artwork in this article is exceptional. I thought the doctor’s office theme was very clever. This article is especially relevant to me as I am currently navigating offers and contracts for summer internships. Thankfully, I have a great relationship with the company that I will be working for, and I can be a little more vocal with my concerns should they arise but my situation is not very common in the job market. The first thing I would think if an employer was being overly nosey is that they already found out a piece of information and they are using leading questions to get me to confess. I imagine that is not usually the case, but I tend to expect the worse. In today’s highly competitive job market, I believe that employers are just trying to find the best candidates for their positions. If an employer asks me for more information about my past work experiences, my career is an open book. I am proud of the things that I have accomplished and I’m not known to turn down an opportunity to talk about it. That said, I do agree that it is a little suspicious when a potential employer is asking questions that you were not prepared for. On one hand, I can see how the interviewee objected to the contract. The interviewer clearly wanted to find out as much information as they can, which entails obtaining permission in writing as to avoid any legal conflict. Since that is an unusual practice, I understand why the interviewee objected. However, the interviewer’s job is to make sure that only the best and most qualified are being considered for employment. I can imagine that is a pretty difficult task considering that people in interviews are not always exact representations of how they behave in a day-to-day workplace setting. It seems logical that a new employer would want to learn how an applicant works, interacts with others, and responds to direction/management, etc. I found it interesting that defamation suits factor into the motivation behind singing a formal contract allowing the potential employer to ask the hard questions. If what a past employer has to say is so terrible that it warrants a defamation lawsuit, maybe the person being interviewed isn’t fit for the job. That may be closed-minded, but in today’s job market, there are too many smart, qualified people to waste time on bad candidates. Another interesting point that I don’t think the article exploited enough was the fact that the applicant decides which references to include. That makes it much easier for the applicant to guide the interviewer in the right direction, but it also allows the applicant to pick the manager that they were best friends with and would never share any negative feedback. Having those cheerleaders in your corner is great, but I think it would be even more impressive to give your interviewer permission to contact anyone they like because if they still do not find out any damning information, you must be a pretty awesome employee. Reading this article prompted me to reflect on the interviews I’ve had this week and all of the interviews I’ve had before. I haven’t had to deal with anything like the contracts mentioned in the article, but I feel that I will be prepared should one be presented to me. I honestly don’t think I’d have a problem with giving my interviewer full reign to dig up any dirt they can find because I think that’s an interview power move but I can see why it raises red flags for other people.

  5. Nicholas Thomas April 28, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

    Regardless of the circumstances people have a right to a certain level of privacy and to withhold certain information. Even in the presence of potential employers people have certain rights. For example a potential employer does not have a right to one’s wage history of a previous job. Even more extreme cases, a potential employer does not have a right to ask questions concerning religion or sexual orientation, while prohibited for different reasons wage history is also a privacy allotted to potential employees. Obviously withholding information such as wage history may cost one a job. Losing a job may be difficult and major inconvenience, but potential employer simply do not have a right to such information. People, even at the cost of losing a job, should protect their privacy.
    One may have a right to certain privacies, but that does not mean he or she a right to withhold all information; moreover, one should provide honest information on job applications. It is vital people provide accurate information on their application, because potential employers are going to conduct background checks whether people like it or not. Therefore do not lie on an application and provide the appropriate information. On the point of references raised in the article, employers have a right to contact people not on one’s reference sheet to obtain an accurate representation of one’s work. Background checks are meant to protect employers, so if they find something a potential employee was trying to hide one should not be too shocked. It is not a violations of one’s rights, but an exercise of employers’ rights to protect the company. With this said, people should always conduct themselves in a professional manner so they have nothing to hide. Moreover, I agree with the author that it is smart to avoid “bad mouthing” past employers, both in front of potential employers or on any social media outlet, because it makes one seem unprofessional and undesirable. If during the background check a potential employer find the salary history of a potential employee, at least the employer had to work for it if the potential employee does not raise a defamation suit against the employer that provided the information. It can be difficult not to provide a potential employer with everything he or she ask for, even if the employer does not have a right to information because one may lose the job. This reminds me of restrict covenants in the sense that what choice do potential employees have than to abide to the employers requests. Ultimately not providing such information may cost one the job, but I agree with author that maybe the company was not meant for he or she.
    The matter of providing certain information to potential employers is a personal judgement call on the employee and if they have trust in the company. People should do what they feel is appropriate, and not to compromise their rights cause they are intimidated by the employer or because giving up such rights is “easier” in the long run. People should protect their rights.

  6. Matthew Radman April 28, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

    A lot of paperwork goes into getting a job, most of it used to grant away an employee or potential employee’s rights. For decades there has been this sort of intimidation and in closed off nature to the employee-employer legal relationship. It is as if the HR department is some shadowy figure. However, employees do have more rights than they think.

    Social media has been the deadline approach that companies have recently taken to getting information on a person. Almost every employer nowadays will check a potential hire’s social media accounts and online presence. This can be a double-edged blade, however. For example, if you are the type of person that if you Googled yourself, a professional looking LinkedIn profile, a company website, and perhaps a family-rated Facebook profile pop up, you would look like a real charmer to an employer. On the other hand, if your social media is filled with inappropriate content, it may go the other way. The frightening thing about this is that once something is posted online, it never really disappears, Those inappropriate images will always be there, waiting for an employer to find.

    Employer rights become much more authoritarian when it comes to special clauses in contracts, specifically ones that either waive your rights or include a non-compete statement. Non-compete clauses are a product of highly technical or skilled employees becoming extremely valuable. This is prevalent in the technology industry in which there is constant poaching between many of the world’s richest companies. The can put a limit on the time that a person cannot work for another company, totally disallow a person to work for a competetor, or even ban a person from much of an industry. These tricky clauses are obviously anticompetetive. In a free market capitalist system, this simply is unfair.

    There is so much opaqueness in the corporate world today, much of it because of the contractual obligations placed on employees, Studies recently have shown the benefits of employees being more open about their salaries, for example. Being more open with this information to not only coworkers but bosses. This gives employees more of the power and takes some away from employers.

    Employers will always demand a certain amount of cooperation and information on their employees, and that is to be expected. After all, employees pay a lot of money and deserve to know who they are hiring. However, some practices, like non-compete clauses are unfair and harmful to both parties. Websites like Glassdoor have certainly improved transparency. Rating companies keep them accountable and provide valuable feedback that employees may not feel comfortable sharing with employers directly. The world is becoming a smaller place, this is evident not only in human interaction but also in the way employers and emloyyes interact via contract.

  7. Austin O'Reilly April 28, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    I am super pissed off, with the idea of a company monitoring personal social media accounts. I think that my salary history should not be accessible to potential employers because what I was previously paid should not determine how much a new job is willing to pay me. I feel this is a way to give new hires the least amount of income possible, which Is wrong. People who work full time spend most of their lives at their jobs, whether physically in the office or travelling for their jobs, companies should be looking to pay these people more, not less. These companies have no right to low ball them when it comes to salary, especially now where the cost of living is becoming near impossible.

    I think that employers should be able to request information from past employers, only if they have a reason, or sincere interest in the employee. If the information will benefit the employee, then I think that it should be provided. Information such as past salaries is completely ridiculous. There should never be any non-professional language involved, and any criticisms made should have some kind of record that backs them up. For example, if a past employer tells a new potential employer that someone was always late, there should be some kind of corrective action documentation that proves it’s true. This may seem like extra work, but if a potential employer wants that much information and free range than they should be willing to sign forms on the opposite side/part that they would be involved in.
    Regarding the social media privacy, if I am not posting pictures affiliated with that company, then the company has no right for disciplinary action.Obviously there are things you just shouldn’t post about, but I’ve read stories of people being fired or written up over things that I felt the company had no business in getting involved in. When someone is no longer clocked in and they are on their own time, they shouldn’t be monitored or policed by their employer. As I mentioned before, most full time employees spend most of their time at their workplace. Subjecting them to disciplinary action for what they do on their own time is exceeding their boundaries in my opinion.

  8. Sirina Natarajan April 28, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

    The first problem in this article was, honestly, very eye opening. I know that as people we have rights to not disclose certain information to employers and other regulations that require us to disclose other information, but this form takes it to a whole new level. I think the form is really invasive and I do not think interviewees should have to provide that kind of information. The article may be right that the interviewing company just wants to double check the information given by the interviewee, but that company will then have access the interviewee’s salary and that may be taking it a step too far.
    I think the article stating, “if you mistrust the underlying motives, maybe this is a company you don’t want to work for” is really unfair. It is not about whether or not the interviewee trusts the company, it is more about them valuing their privacy. To not want a company you do not even work for to have your confidential information is not something suspicious, like the article suggests, but rather it is normal to protect your information. Personally, I would never sign a document like that without asking the interviewer why they need that information. If I do not get hired because I was looking out for myself, that company is most likely not right for me. I do not agree with the author of this article and their nonchalant attitude towards signing documents at an interview. If this were a normal background check form, I would understand, but I think this form in particular is a little too invasive.
    Another problem a potential employee could run into is the chance they may be underpaid based on the previous salary from their old job. For example, if the interviewee was paid forty-five thousand dollars at their old job, there is a higher chance that they would be paid around that same number instead of sixty thousand like their potential co-workers. The kind of information they obtain may not hinder one’s chances at getting the job, but it could hinder the benefits one could reap at their possible future job. The professionals who assisted on this article definitely have more expertise on this sort of thing, but I do not think they could convince me to sign away personal information like my old salary.
    The last article is more relatable to people because everyone has had a bad work experience and to explain to a future employer that they hated their job makes them look spiteful and a little insubordinate and nasty. I think the advice the article gives is solid as it tells the interviewee to brush off the question and turn it around to make it into a good talking point about how that person would fit better at the company they are interviewing at. That should be the main goal of the interview, not the past employer or the interviewee’s views on them, but how they see themselves at the company they are interviewing at. Information like that should be more important to the interviewer instead of how they liked their old job.

  9. Taylor Salomon April 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

    After reading the title, I was immediately put in an unpleasant mood. It is a major dislike when people feel the need to pry into your personal life when it has nothing to do with them. Coming from an adolescent point of view, I can relate to this a lot. As time goes on, it is a common thing to see in the work environment. Just as the article is titled, there are potential employers who are unnervingly nosy. The article starts off with the a past interview with author applying for this “fantastic” job. Josh Luchon goes into further detail on the encounter by stating “interviewer clearly wanted to find out as much information as they can, which entails obtaining permission in writing as to avoid any legal conflict. Since that is an unusual practice, I understand why the interviewee objected. However, the interviewer’s job is to make sure that only the best and most qualified are being considered for employment. I can imagine that is a pretty difficult task considering that people in interviews are not always exact representations of how they behave in a day-to-day workplace setting. It seems logical that a new employer would want to learn how an applicant works, interacts with others, and responds to direction/management, etc. I found it interesting that defamation suits factor into the motivation behind singing a formal contract allowing the potential employer to ask the hard questions. If what a past employer has to say is so terrible that it warrants a defamation lawsuit, maybe the person being interviewed isn’t fit for the job. That may be closed-minded, but in today’s job market, there are too many smart, qualified people to waste time on bad candidates.” I agree with Josh’s point because now a days it is becoming normal for employers to request this type of information. Is it bad for your future job want to know everything about you? Isn’t it their job to know everything about the candidates applying for the HR or campus recruiting job? It is not an invasion of privacy regarding certain pieces of information. On the other hand, student Lauren Burbank states she has a problem with asking for past salary amounts. I agree when Lauren states that should remain under cover. CEOs have no problem releasing their salary history because it is greater than a thousand. Others have an issue with this request because they either want more money with an advance or are too ashamed at their low pay check. Burbank feels like this is a way for new hires the least amount of income possible. Entry level jobs usually generate the least amount of income. It takes years to build up a stable income because you move up in your career field. Take the education system for instance. The progression includes: teacher’s assistant, teacher, supervisor, vice principal, to principal. Each position is paid a different amount that fluctuated according to the economy. But going back to this article’s main focal point, I believe employers are given the right to pry as long as it has to do with making sure the candidate is qualified for the desired position.

  10. Robert Seijas April 29, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    Employers and their deep search for personal and professional information can seem incredibly daunting to any prospective employee who is looking to become a part of that company. This becomes an especially stressful and uncomfortable requirement for individuals when they are not given a choice in the matter. Although they technically are given a choice, there is absolutely no way they could be eligible for the position without consenting to the thorough and uncomfortable search. This can be looked at as an employer twisting their arm into making them consent, by leveraging the position. Although an employer should use whatever is in their arsenal to get the most information about prospective employees, there is an ethical issue with starting the professional relationship with unfair leveraging.
    A similar circumstance comes with most technology, being that all agreements must be agreed to and consented to if somebody wants to use the technology and software. A few common examples are iPhones, iTunes, most operating systems, and social networks like LinkedIn, which are essential to being an attractive and marketable professional. The main aspect in common between all of these examples and employment contracts is that something long, complicated, and unwanted must be agreed to in order to have the ability to be a part of something else. Another aspect in common is that this is widely seen as unfair, because people are either left out completely, in some cases where there is necessity like an operating system on a phone, or for the fact that the belief is there should not need to be an agreement present.
    With the jobs in mind, a normal background check and search should be enough as it explains where a person has been previously and what they have done. Looking in further is mainly unnecessary unless a project of utmost importance, like secret development of technology. Specifically, a company protecting itself from damage by adding into the contract a release from liabilities implies that the search may do damage to the potential employee, whether professional, personal, or financial. This makes the signing of this contract much more serious, as there is now an expectation of damages.
    The biggest issue is that potential employees do not have as many rights as they believe, nor as many rights as they should have. They are weakened so that the company doing the hiring can be strengthened, and put into a better position with much more safety. The only problem with a company protecting itself to this extent is that they can harm the potential employee, waste resources in the process, and even create dysfunctional professional relationships from the very beginning. Starting out at a company that does not trust you, or has a large amount of unknown information on you is not something many people want to do. In fact, this creates a large amount of distrust for them to have against the company and it further fuels a dysfunctional, unethical, and unprofessional work environment where employees cannot confidently trust their own companies.

  11. Nicolas F Carchio April 29, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    Employers are notorious for attempting to go beyond the rational and normal bounds of a potential employee’s privacy rights. There are many reasons for this, one would be that employers are simply nosy. In reality, this is not the only reason, or a main reason for that matter. Employers want to know what the potential employee will provide for them. They want to know that an employee is hardworking, intelligent, can cope with different situations and adapt to any challenges that come their way. These skills are essential for the proper flowing of any business and it is important that new employees can provide such things for the employer and their business as a whole. What is unacceptable is the fact that they attempt to force a potential employee into signing over the rights to information that is much more than references and past employment. These employers often overstep their authority, but are able to get away with it through their ability to leverage their offer for the job to attempt to force their potential employees into surrendering their information if they want the job that bad.

    In the modern day workforce, this is essential for the success of a strong business. Employers, though, should not be able to take advantage of their hires by forcing them to give over much more than the necessary information for hire. The reason for being able to acquire such information in the first place, has to do with the advancements of technology. Not only are employers able to somewhat blackmail a new hire into handing over their information, but in many instances the employers can find this information on their own. They are able to do this by utilizing a simple google search, let alone if they have data miners who can find information that potential employee never thought was available on the internet. With the invention of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others, employers are able to find even more information on their potential employees than ever before. Even if a person does not have one of these accounts, they can be featured in people’s pictures on the internet that are featured in to find other activities that these new hires are participating in. This is a scary world, where employers have a seemingly unlimited sphere of influence over the online world, which is why it is essential that students who are looking for jobs are aware of these dangers and can act accordingly.

    For the future of employment, students can protect themselves in several ways. First, if it is necessary to have a social media account, then make sure that it is secure. Have the privacy settings on full so that there is no way that an employer can get into your account. Additionally, make sure to take precautions with friends and family to not put up pictures that you are in that will make you look bad. A picture on one person’s account and the picture on your count carry the same weight if you are featured in both. These few steps will help potential employees to maintain their cyber security while also utilizing the most powerful tools to keeping their intellectual property and information safe.

  12. Ron Simpkins May 27, 2017 at 10:23 pm #

    Companies have slowly moved into a position of power with small intrusion into our personal lives. Technology has definitely allowed it to be more easily and readily available. With the abundance of personal information available online for employers to seek and obtain, it is easy for them to increase the hacking into our social media information. However, this article is an interesting way to gather even more information. What could they possible need with salary history? Maybe, the companies want to understand if they can present a reasonable or unreasonable salary offer. The article strikes an important suggestion, perhaps, the potential employer is warning the interviewee that they are a very intrusive company, and plan to conduct a thorough background investigation. If the interviewee unwilling to sign the disclosure forms then it would save the company any further expenses in the background investigation. Simply, companies are stating before they take the interview any further would you please sign here. Therefore, no more time wasted with any unreal truths involving the interviewee’s employment history. However, previously employers’ human resource department must guard this information with policies to protect the company from potential lawsuits. Additionally, state and local laws should limit how information the individual wishes to make available. Unfortunately, to get around privacy laws and policies the employer asks the interviewee to sign their privacy away. In addition, companies have nearly all the advantage to conduct this type of hiring pressure due to the mountain of uncertainty and student loans debt faced by new student graduates entering the job market. The advice I will always spread is to stay true to oneself, and face difficulties rather than run from them. The gatekeepers of the workplace hold uncheck power, and it is rapidly growing. At what point does the invasion of privacy rest wholly in the hands of the beholder?

  13. Lauren MacArthur June 3, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    The level of which an individual desires a job should never sway an individual’s decision on making choices that they feel uncomfortable with. Such as, feeling compelled to sign a waiver releasing pervious wage history to their employer. An individual’s professional life versus their personal life should always be kept separate. An employer seeking previous wage history would be a red flag in my opinion. This would indicate to me that the employer could potentially use that information to alter the current going compensation rate for the position in which applying for, concluding in an individual making much less than the employer had anticipated for the position. In fact, in New York City a bill was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on May 4th, 2017, in which now prohibits all employers from asking potential employee’s their past compensation history, as well as, prohibits them from using past compensation history to make a determination on current compensation rates. Employers upon hiring new employee’s need to be concerned about an individual’s degree of education, the training background in which they have received, and the level of experience they hold.
    In regards to an employer reaching out to an “department head” as opposed to an individual’s “direct manager”, it is likely that the “direct manager” will have an unbiased opinion and comment directly on the individual’s work ethic, discipline, and level of work accomplished during their time. A “department head” on the other hand is likely to have a closer working relationship with the previous employee and may make comments though unintentionally based on their personal character rather than their working character. It is in my opinion that it is in an employer’s best interest to obtain any unbiased opinions from an individual’s previous workplace, in order to make an adequate decision on fit of the potential employee for the position.
    The end of the article mentions that the best thing for an individual to do is to be fully honest about their working history, regardless of being asked to sign a waiver. While I do fully agree that an individual should never be dishonest about their past working history in order to obtain a new position, I feel that an individual should never feel obligated when seeking employment to answer questions having to do with their personal life in which does not affect their ability to complete their work. The only circumstance in which I do feel that it is an employer’s obligation to know an individual’s past history is if they are seeking employment involving children in which they have had a criminal background. Depending upon what their criminal history has been and the position in which the individual is seeking, it needs to be taken into consideration for the sake of the safety of the children. However, upon hiring a new employee, employers focus should be taking into consideration an individual’s qualifications and whether they are adequately able to complete their work in a sufficient manner. It is also extremely vital to be vocal about any concerns that may arise during the interview process, this way it is clear amongst your potential employer and yourself what the expectations may be before engaging in a working relationship together.

  14. Greg D'Ottavi September 22, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    Walker’s article explains an example of someone who was asked to fill out a form giving a company permission to previous work information. The potential employee states that they were uncertain about this and did not want to sign the form due to the possibility of the company crossing legal boundaries. Unfortunately, in today’s world, there is not much to prevent an employer from finding out everything they need to know about a potential employee. For the most part, an employer does not have to ask permission at all and can contact whomever they please regarding the applicant. With that said, I have a strong agreeance with an employer who wants to do so.
    Specifically within the article, Walker analyzes a situation in which an applicant did not want to release previous salary history. In this case, I personally do not see why salary history would be relevant to an employer. I can understand wanting to contact previous employers for assessments and work experience, but salary history seems a bit excessive. I have never applied for a job in which the application asked this of me, but if it had, I would likely inquire about it. I feel as though the applicant has every right to ask an employer their reasoning behind certain requirements. If an employer decides whether to give an applicant a job based on the amount of information they give or do not give on their background, then I do not believe that employer has an adequate employment process. At the same time, as an applicant, it is pointed out in the article that maybe they should assess the motives behind an employer’s research and decide whether that is the best work environment for them.
    Fortunately, there is a definite purpose behind employers researching their applicant’s background and job history. One of the major purposes that is not discussed in the article, but was brought to my mind while reading is to keep the work environment safe. It is very sad to think that it is possible to be attacked at work or in public due to terrorism and I believe work history and background checks help to prevent that greatly. When it comes down to it, I would rather an employer perform an extensive background and previous employer research than disregard such information. With the aid of technology and social media, it is rather easy for an employer to find out as much as they want on a particular applicant anyway. I feel as though this is one of the benefits of social media from an employer’s standpoint and it should be used more often. Obviously, I can understand the justification of personal privacy, but there should be no hesitation when attempting to keep the workplace safe. Furthermore, if I was already an employee at a company I would definitely want to know that my co-workers were not dangerous or suspicious people.
    The article wraps up with a section about leaving behind a bad job and the hesitation on telling a new employer about one’s bad experiences. In a situation like this, it can be very difficult to form a quality response for a new employer. Walker notes that it is not a good idea to start bad-mouthing a previous employer as a first impression. Instead, he suggests that the applicant discuss why the new employer is a much better fit and allow them to gain interest in potentially hiring.

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