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by Vault Careers | March 10, 2009


Dear HR Guy,

On our application, there is question asking if we can contact the applicant's current employer. If we have already extended an offer and the applicant accepted and has already given notice to their current employer, can we contact the applicant's current employer despite his or her checking off "no" to the question on the application? On the offer letter it states "offer is contingent upon successful completion of background check." Any advice?

Thank you,


Dear Bea:

In short, the answer is no. The applicant clearly indicated that you should not contact his or her current employer. Despite accepting your offer and having given notice, the situation remains the same. If you want to call the applicant's current employer as part of the contingent background check, you should make that clear to the applicant - and preferably before the offer is accepted and notice has been given. Yes, you could probably get away with revoking the offer if the candidate doesn't give you permission to contact his or her current employer, but why would you want to be devious about something like that? It's bad business. Not only does it get your candidate off to bad start, but things like that spread like wildfire and you'd be hard-pressed to find new candidates once the word gets out that you insist on calling a candidate's current employer.

HR Guy

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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