Prior Employment References

Whether small or large, as a money services business you handle a lot of money- money that can go missing, be stolen, or be lost.

Your hiring decisions are some of the most important decisions you will make and so should not be undertaken lightly. The amount of time, effort and money you expend prior to making a hiring decision should be commensurate with the risks to your business and your tolerance for accepting losses in the event you make a mistake.

Some mistakes can be worse than others. Would you rather make a hiring mistake that results in the loss of significant capital or one that results in you having to re-fill a position and train another new employee?

Ideally, you will obtain a signed release from all part-time and full-time job applicants authorizing the previous employer to provide specific job performance information. Then, contact the applicants’ previous employers by phone or letter to solicit information regarding the applicants’ dates of employment, previous position, duties, job performance and reasons for leaving. Document your contact and the information obtained.

Note that many employers will be reluctant to forward derogatory information about a former employee because of potential litigation. Sometimes you can read between the lines a little bit and guess that the reference is bad, e.g. the person may say “Gee, I sure do wish I could give you information about John but I just can’t. You should try calling some of his other prior employers to find someone who can speak with you.” That would be a pretty clear tip-off that the person would not recommend the hiring of your candidate.

By providing a copy of the signed applicant release (usually by fax or with a letter) you can often obtain enough basic information to assist you somewhat with your hiring decision.