Career Documentation, How important is it?

How many times have you filled out an online job application and it asks for employment dates? When you do not remember, you start guessing or giving estimation. Worse yet, when the organization performs a background check those dates don’t match up – you will not get the job.  Even worse, you may not even know that they checked. If this has happened to you, now is the time for you to keep an accurate account of your job history.

career documentation

Why is this important you ask?  Nowadays all applications require more accurate account of your employment time frames, salary and job descriptions so they can determine if you are a good fit for their organization. If you do not provide accurate information, you could be passed over for the position. Additionally, more companies are performing employment and credit background screens in addition to criminal screens. If you are pursuing a career in information technology, they will also be screening you to see if you are eligible for some sort of security clearance as well. Same if you are applying for a position in the health care industry along with some others. If you cannot pass this background check, you will not be able to obtain a security clearance either. If you have not been keeping up with your job history, please be mindful to include information that is closest to the time frame as possible. Dates that are too far off will raise red flags.

Keeping track of your career history is vitally important not only to your career, but also it shows that you keep good records. You never know when you will be asked for accurate dates of your past employment, education or other training you’ve taken over the years. Having them on hand will show that you are prepared and eager to work with them. When you do not keep good records you could delay your background screening process or cause you to lose a good job offer. Another thing to note, if you have filled out an application and it does not ask for specific date, this does not mean they will not ask for it during the actual application when they consider you for the job. So be prepared at all times. Below is a list of best practices I used all the time and it really works.

  1. Keep a record of all pay stubs, expense sheets and performance evaluations.
  2. Keep a record of your letter of offer and resignation/termination agreements.
  3. Keep copies of your proof of health insurance (this also shows proof of employment if you should lose your pay stubs).
  4. Keep records/copies of your taxes (1040, W2s, 1099, etc).
  5. Keep copies or record of other employment miscellaneous documentation that could be useful in the future.
  6. Keep copies of all awards obtained.
  7. Keep a record of all education or training courses taken including dates, transcripts, student ID or other identification information that can be verified.

Keep all employment records for as long as you are still employable.  Meaning as long as you are looking for employment or plan to continue working after retirement age you want to make sure you document it.  For me, I keep mine FOREVER because I never know when I have to reference any of it.

Another great thing you can do is to create a “history resume” that lists pertinent information that you can quickly reference when needed. (See below) This resume is similar to a federal resume format; however, you will not use this one to send out; only to reference from.

  1. Full Starting and Ending Dates of Employment
  2. Full Job Title
  3. Name of Employer, full address and telephone number
  4. Manager/Supervisor’s name, title and phone number
  5. Starting and Ending Salary information
  6. Reason for leaving (make it professional, don’t bash the last employer)

If you do not currently have records of your history, start by finding your pay stubs and piecing together the time frame. If you do not have your pay stubs it may also be helpful to contact the HR manager and ask for your employee dates and salary information and where you can obtain copies of your payroll slips. Please note, you may have to send a letter in writing to get this information or provide ID prior to receiving it. Once you get this information, quickly jot it down on your history resume and keep it safe. Also make some hard copies as a backup just in case.

I hope that these tips help you in some way. Remember keep good records of your job history so you will not have to sit and figure it out. It is a great way to show your time management and organizational skills to your new employer and that you are excited to work for them.

If you would like more tips like these, please let me know at