It has been only within the last 25 years or so that many hiring managers have realized that just having an “honest face” might not be sufficient information upon which to base a hiring decision. That’s especially alarming in light of the increasingly specialized jobs that have been created in the high-paid, fast-paced, increasingly computerized business world. The point, I think, is that serious reference checking, as a stand-alone specialty service, is relatively new. But the basic process of one employer talking to another about how a young person might work out as a clerk in the local dry goods store has been going on—informally—for at least the last 150 years.
The foregoing prompts the question, “Does it still make sense for prospective and former employers to share information?” The more important way to ask that question perhaps should be, “Why doesn’t it make senses?” An important truth is that some job seekers’ best skill is interviewing, and that others are willing to embellish their resumes and claim academic achievements never earned. How else is a prospective employer supposed to objectively and subjectively evaluate a candidate for employment?
Of course it makes sense for prospective and former employers to be able to share information; the only sensible limitation on that sort of sharing is that the information needs to always be true and accurate—and that’s where the job seeker comes into the picture!
Because we’ve become such a litigious society, negligent hiring, negligent referral, defamation, invasion of privacy, etc. are all threats that have created a somewhat hostile environment for the employer. Employers, who should know better, have begun to wonder if they’re legally allowed to share information with each other at all. Unequivocally, employers are allowed to share information, and it makes sense that they should be allowed to do so. To suggest otherwise makes no sense at all, except to the prospective employee who has something to hide.
Within the framework of information sharing, the job seeker becomes the facilitator who makes it happen and who, frankly, should want to make it happen—not for the employer’s sake, but for his own. After all, the job seeker is the one who wants to become employed!