Reference Check Costs Woman Job Offer

In our ever more security conscious world reference checks are an accepted part of the selection cycle. You can be asked for references at any time but time constraints mean that, practically speaking, your references usually only get checked immediately before or after an offer, or sometimes within the 90 day probationary of your having started the job.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the first time I’d faced this nasty little problem, so I asked two questions, “ have you been divorced, and do you now work under a different name?”


As a divorced woman, working under her maiden name, she had filled out and signed the usual application form without thinking much about it. But at the end of job application forms is a block of impossibly small type that gives the employer permission to check into your background, something required under the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act. This is where the problem originated.

Having chosen her as the ideal candidate, the company extended a job offer, “pending reference checks.” On checking references the prior employer naturally had no one by her current name working for them during the employment period specified.

If you, or a divorced woman friend, have ever worked under a married name and have now reverted to your maiden name, you must take this into account when giving your references.

There are a number of things you can do

  • When you know you are a serious contender for a job, ask when references will be checked and explain succinctly, “ When you check my references prior to “x date” I worked under my married name which was then ____ ____.”
  • Remind each of your references of the name disparity, early in your job search.
  • Call HR of the companies where you worked under a different name, and following it up with a registered letter, explain the name change and asking that these facts be entered into your employment records.
  • When an offer is extended, remind everyone (especially HR of the hiring company) of the name change.
  • When you accept the job offer, verbally or in writing, you might also make mention as a P.S. “Please note than any employment checks prior to xxxx, should identify me as working under my prior married name of _____ ______.”
This needn’t happen to you or a girlfriend, friend, or any woman. Please spread the word through your social networks.
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