How long did I work there?
July 28, 2008 7:03 AM   Subscribe

How can I find out how long I worked in a position over a decade ago when the company no longer exists?

I'm currently applying for a new job and they've asked for a complete record of all my previous employment. This was to be expected and isn't a problem. What has me troubled is the following: they've asked permission to do a "background check" and are demanding great specificity as to the dates when I worked at various positions.

I really want this job -- but I can't remember the exact date when I started "position such-n-such" 14 years ago! (For the record, I've always just included "ball park" months for the jobs I've held. Like: "8/2006 to 7/2007" Not being intentionally dishonest -- but these dates might have been mildly inaccurate by a month or two.)

I would just call each company and verify the duration of my employment, but some of my past employers no longer even exist. What's my exposure level here? Is there a way for spooky third-party 'background check' organizations to see these exact dates and see that I'm not accurate? Is there a way I can contact the Social Security Department or maybe even the IRS to learn the exact dates of my employment in these various positions?

Please help! Thanks in advance, O' wise Ask MeFi!
posted by LakesideOrion to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
FWIW... I went through the same thing.

After checking through some old tax information, I put down the best dates I could deduce and then decided that, ultimately, if I couldn't figure out how long I worked there then neither could anyone else.

If you're asked about it in a subsequent interview, fess up. Anyone who has worked for small businesses knows the start-up turnover dance.
posted by answergrape at 7:09 AM on July 28, 2008

If you really want it, you can obtain a transcript of your old tax returns, including accompanying forms and schedules such as the W-2 — but you'd need to allow two weeks for delivery, and the information you filed with the IRS would just show your aggregate income for each year. You might be able to ballpark your start dates a little better with this info, but you might have trouble figuring out whether you started on October 14 or October 21.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:26 AM on July 28, 2008

Be as accurate as you can. Then be clear -- in writing, on the form in question -- which dates you're not really sure about. You want to give off the vibe that you're trying as much as possible to be cooperative and forthcoming, but that you just don't have some of the information they're asking for. If you put specific dates without the caveat that you're not sure they're correct it might bit you in the ass later.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 AM on July 28, 2008

A bit late but in case the OP or anyone else is still looking. I used to work in HR and we'd submit the info provided by candidates into a form for verification as we outsourced our background checks. At worst it would come back flagged as inaccurate and we'd look at the info. If it was reasonable i.e. relative same length of time, accurate position it wasn't an issue but if you said you were there 5 years as SVP and they returned 5 months as Clerk, then it was an issue.

We'd also frequently get returns of "Unable to verify. No info on company available" which we just had to accept.
posted by TravellingCari at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2008

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