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Can a prospective employer contact your previous employers without your consent?

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  • Feb 18th, 2018 11:54 am
[OP]
Member
Aug 12, 2016
260 posts
65 upvotes

Can a prospective employer contact your previous employers without your consent?

I have heard mixed opinions on this. Some opinions are like there is nothing to stop prospective employers from contacting your previous employers to find out more about you in detail. But on the other hand, i am hearing that legally a prospective employer needs your consent in order to do this and that they cannot go behind your back to contact your previous employers.

What is the correct practice in the market regarding this?
8 replies
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2015
958 posts
560 upvotes
Guelph, ON
It's a free country, what law do you think they would be breaking if they phoned your previous employer? For that matter, there's nothing illegal about a complete stranger just phoning a company up asking about their former employees. Whether the company answers their questions is another matter.

In any case, it wouldn't look good on you to "forbid" them to contact your former employers. It makes it look like you are hiding something.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jan 31, 2006
7219 posts
1832 upvotes
Toronto
Savak2015 wrote: I have heard mixed opinions on this. Some opinions are like there is nothing to stop prospective employers from contacting your previous employers to find out more about you in detail. But on the other hand, i am hearing that legally a prospective employer needs your consent in order to do this and that they cannot go behind your back to contact your previous employers.

What is the correct practice in the market regarding this?
If your prospective employer happen to know someone working in your previous employer/s that is the easiest way. (back door best option)

But for prospective employer to call your previous employer and ask about how you doing with them, I doubt they will get anything out of it.
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 23, 2009
5074 posts
2256 upvotes
Yet another RFD poster looking to make sure that the company they work for has no idea what they did in the past.
cgtlky wrote: But for prospective employer to call your previous employer and ask about how you doing with them, I doubt they will get anything out of it.
They may learn you were fired for cause.

They may also learn that you weren't really the CEO of Apple. (Well, I doubt that someone would say that, but people will lie about past experience.)

In addition, companies may not have the best views of a former employee. As I posted before, companies CAN say negative things about a former employee - as long as it isn't fictional.
Member
Feb 8, 2017
459 posts
258 upvotes
if you have given a references, including one from your previous company, not many hiring companies will go out of there way to dig up more information by cold calling your previous company. some top tier companies will go the extra mile but for most companies they check the references you provide and that's it. but yes, they can call whoever they want.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
4362 posts
2241 upvotes
renoldman wrote: Yet another RFD poster looking to make sure that the company they work for has no idea what they did in the past.
Can you blame them?

Nobody is perfect, and I don't think anybody deserves to be blacklisted based on a prior mistake (as long as it wasn't severe, and even then...) for the rest of their career. I mean you have bankers/CEO's who rob people blind, and they have no problem getting seats on other boards or higher position. I wouldn't want to work for a company that went behind my back, nor would I want to work for a company if my prospective boss was friend's with someone I worked with (if I was let go). I find that you'd be having to constantly prove yourself, and that in itself is not worth it.
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2015
958 posts
560 upvotes
Guelph, ON
MyNameWasTaken wrote: Can you blame them?

Nobody is perfect, and I don't think anybody deserves to be blacklisted based on a prior mistake (as long as it wasn't severe, and even then...) for the rest of their career. I mean you have bankers/CEO's who rob people blind, and they have no problem getting seats on other boards or higher position. I wouldn't want to work for a company that went behind my back, nor would I want to work for a company if my prospective boss was friend's with someone I worked with (if I was let go). I find that you'd be having to constantly prove yourself, and that in itself is not worth it.
I have made "mistakes" at work and not been "blacklisted". The kind of things that will get you bad reviews from previous employers include constant absenteeism, repeated unprofessional behavior, not having skills you claimed to have during the hiring process, etc. Things like that aren't "mistakes" they are "on purposes", and it would be more than fair for future potential employers to know about them, since past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Nobody is going behind your back when they investigate your history.

And by the way everyone has to prove themselves when they start at a new place. If you actually have the skills you claimed during the interview then it shouldn't take long to establish yourself.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
4362 posts
2241 upvotes
JoeBlack23 wrote: I have made "mistakes" at work and not been "blacklisted". The kind of things that will get you bad reviews from previous employers include constant absenteeism, repeated unprofessional behavior, not having skills you claimed to have during the hiring process, etc. Things like that aren't "mistakes" they are "on purposes", and it would be more than fair for future potential employers to know about them, since past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Nobody is going behind your back when they investigate your history.

And by the way everyone has to prove themselves when they start at a new place. If you actually have the skills you claimed during the interview then it shouldn't take long to establish yourself.
Admittedly my post might not have been too clear. Constant absenteeism isn't something I would hold over someone. Everyone has different experiences. Someone could have been more ill than others, struggling with mental health in a toxic work environment, maybe an issue with family, commuting. If someone is looking for a new job to address these things, then I'm not going to fault them nor am I going to look for them to admit it to me.

Unprofessional behaviour is a grey one with me. I think people like to call out others on "being professional" at times, when they do not like that person's persona or feel feel threatened by them. Past behaviour is not the best indicator of future performance I'd say. That's one good thing about the Federal government is that I remember during my short stint there that they had a policy where they don't prejudice those from their past employment (whether this is true in action, I do not know).

As well as having the skills, there was that big Ted Talk about "Fake it, Till you become it." Unless it is a highly technical role, which requires specific credentials, then I say go for it and put forth a valiant effort.

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