So you met this neat guy at Starbucks and he’s full of fascinating tales about himself. He says he’s a wheeler dealer world traveler. He likes art. And in his spare time, he bakes, he sews, and he deworms stray kittens. But is he for real? Is this guy too good to be true? And how can you find out?
Curiously absent from any of his exciting stories, was what he does for a living. Is a he a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker? Or perhaps he’s a doctor or lawyer or grim undertaker? Does he have his own a company? Does he rent from his mom? Is he an industrious inventor? Is he building a bomb?
So how can you find out about these things? Or at least confirm if anything he says about his work is true.
Well, have no fear. Underdog is here! Yes, this is a blog all about employment. And how you can verify what’s true and what’s not.
Knowing The Source of Where The Information Came From
Often you’ll find lots of information, but have no idea where it came from. The source of a record is key. Because if it came from the person himself, you’ll want other means to determine if it’s true or not.
Obviously you’ll know the source if you find it on LinkedIn or Facebook. But what if you find it on seemingly respectable websites like Intellius or US Search? Where did they get it from? And is it reliable?
It may surprise you to know that often they too get their employment info from LinkedIn and Facebook! And I have proof of such which I’ll go into shortly!
The 4 Sources of Information You Need To Know About
When it comes to employment info, there are only 4 types of records to be concerned with. These are:
1. Self Published Info (but allowed to lie);
2. Self Published Info (but required to tell the truth);
3. Reliable Info Published By Others;
4. Info that mixes all three of these.
The good news is that all 4 types of records have their purpose. All 4 of these can be used to find or verify someone’s employment. OR at least to catch someone in inconsistencies.
1. Self Published Info (but allowed to lie)
The first source of info includes what they say about themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media. You may think that because it’s self published it can’t be reliable. And you’re partly right. But it’s very useful as a starting point. And even here you can verify things.
First of all, people usually tell the truth about themselves. So Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to begin. Use these resources to gather as much as you can about the person’s employment. Later you can and will be verifying from other sources. So be patient.
Sometimes, the self published records on social media are quite reliable. Especially when you’re looking to confirm someone is being deceptive.
For example: if their Facebook posts brag about their two years as a homeless hermit in India, what does their LinkedIn account say? Does it claim that during this time they worked in NYC for Arthur Andersen?
On the flip side, social media can also prove he is telling the truth about himself.
Suppose I claim to work at the law firm of Heninger Garrison & Davis. And behold, 20 of my Facebook friends and various LinkedIn contacts also work at Henninger Garrison & Davis.
Chances are, this is a very good indication I worked there now. Or at least once worked there! And what if I have posts where others laugh at what I did at last week’s office party? What more proof do you need?
Using LinkedIn & Facebook To Find Other People Who Work At The Same Company
Of course, not all Facebook friends are visible. And even when they are, not all of them will list where they work.
You could of course ask to be part of your subject’s LinkedIn network. Then you would see if they really know people in the same company. But that could be awkward. And it might make you look like a neurotic busybody.
If you’re like me, you don’t want others to know you’re backgrounding them! So your best bet is to find the guy on Facebook and see if any of his friends work at the same company! With Facebook’s Advance Search function, this is very easy.
Once you’ve logged into your own account and are on your main page, click on Find Friends and scroll down a bit to your right where it says Search For Friends. Ignore every other field except for Employment, and type in the company they say they work for. Whallah! Suddenly you have a list of names and faces. Are any of them on his friends list?
Of course, for small companies, you can find employees by going directly to the company website. But in the case of law firms, secretaries and paralegals won’t be listed. So you’ll want to search on Linkedin, even if you don’t have an account.
As I mentioned earlier, to find employees on LinkedIn is easy when you’re already in their social network. For everyone else, you can
Google for company employees within the Linkedin website.
Using Google To Search Within Facebook and Linkedin
In the Google search box , search within a website like this:
Rooms To Go site:Linkedin.com (Searches for other employees)
Graham Firestone site:Linkedin.com (Search for your subject)
Graham Firestone site:Facebook.com (Search for your subject)
Using Other Self Published Info Mixed With Reliable Info (Source 4 docs)
At this point, we’re still trying to find employment information on the quick. So your next step is to look for them on the websites that offer free background check information on employment.
These sites are great for matching a name with an age and a job. And they often include a mixture of information which they get from social media, the government and professional licensing boards.
But watch out! This 4th source of information is where you can run into trouble. Sites that provide mixed records, take information from wherever they can get it. And often they conceal where they got it from. So you can gather here. But you need to verify elsewhere!
For example, most people know about Pipl, Peekyou and Spokeo. So they expect that some of the information is official (like their age) while other information is clearly self published (i.e. taken from social media).
But what about the “respectable” pay websites such as Intellius, US Search and Radaris? Won’t their employment information be more reliable?
Believe it or not, they too get much of their information from LinkedIn! So you may actually be paying for self published information you could have gotten for free. And worse, it’s never been verified. So you may be paying for lies.
Proof That Pay For Background Check Sites Use Social Media
Take my employment information. Did you know I worked for the prestigious white-shoe law firm of Salamander and Spivak? It’s a law firm that’s so exclusive, only the best even know of it.
The truth is it doesn’t exist! Except in my mind of course! Years ago I put it on LinkedIn as a joke. But it’s now listed on Radaris, US Search and other sites that charge you for online background checks!
So don’t trust them simply because they look official. Before you pay these sites a dime, find out where it is they get their information from! Sites that gather from social media may include the Whitepages, Pipl, Spokeo, US Search, Intellius and other background check websites.
2. Self Published Info (but required to tell the truth)
The second source of info is deliciously wonderful. It’s where people must voluntarily list their employment when dealing with the government, the courts or a licensing agency.
Examples include court filings, bankruptcy petitions, license applications, tax filings, census filings and the job information they volunteer when donating to political campaigns.
No one goes to jail for lying on Facebook. But lying to Uncle Sam is a sin. And if they’re caught, it could cost them their case, their license and even their freedom. With this in mind, people are usually more truthful here than on social media.
Find Their Latest Job Through Their Professional Licensing Board
Many professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and real estate brokers all need to update their respective licensing boards. And this means they often are required to list where they currently work. They could lie of course. But if they get caught they could lose their license. To look up your professional by job type and state, see
Occupational Licensing Boards For All 50 States & DC.
See also Their Profession/License Or Certifications (Consumer-SOS)
Find Job Histories Through Their Federal Campaign Contributions
When you donate to a political party or candidate, Uncle Sam wants to know where the money came from. And so every contributor is asked to list their employment. The beauty of this is that you can sometimes trace the donor’s job history.
Here’s how I did so for John Stanford using the free website Political Money Online. This site tracks all federal campaign contributions since 1980. And this includes the employment history of the campaign donor!
Just enter in their name like below and select their state. Ignore everything else except Search All Cycles.
Wallah! Suddenly their occupation is listed along with the date and amount of their contribution.
In the snapshot above, I even numbered the last five jobs he had in chronological order. Are these the same jobs he posted on LinkedIn and Facebook? Is this what he put on his job application? If not he’s got a lot of explaining to do!
For more links of this sort see Campaign Contributions (Consumer-SOS)
Find Job Histories Through Their Bankruptcy Petitions
A person’s bankruptcy petition can capture years of their financial activities. And it can include other information such as where they worked, how long they held a job, and what they spent their money on.
If you want to see the type of employment info you can get for free from bankruptcy petitions, see the Sleuth For The Truth video Search For Bankruptcy Filings (Free Public Records) and advance to 5:36.
For more on using PACER to get free bankruptcy petitions, see the bottom of the Sleuth For The Truth Blog Free Bankruptcy Records.
3. Reliable Info Published By Others
Now is the time to talk about the reliable outside sources that show where they work or have worked in the past. The more official these sources are, the better. These could include government listings, a news article, or a membership roster from an occupational licensing board.
For example, a government listing of property owners, a federal listing of all US Postal workers, or a state bar directory of all Georgia attorneys. These are all official publications.
Ignore Commercial Directories Which List Employment
Commercial directories are almost never reliable. To be reliable means their information is accurate and includes all licensed members of the profession. Most commercial directories only publish the names of those who pay their fees. And they also rely on whatever their members say about themselves.
So if you’re not sure, test them by looking up at least two people you know are licensed in that profession. If one of them is missing, you’re either a bad speller or dealing with a commercial directory.
Commercial Records Can Be Reliable
Don’t be so quick to write off a record just because it’s commercial. Reliable records can be found on the employer’s website, in newspapers, from charity events, or in a list of consumer complaints from the Better Business Bureau.
For example: You can bet Steve Wosniak really works for Apple when their website shows he hit a home run at the company picnic. Likewise, when a charity lists a 10 million dollar donation from Graham Firestone of Firestone Tires, wanna bet they got his job title right?
Googling For Reliable Records
OK. Suppose you want to confirm that Bill Gates works at Microsoft. The first stop is to go to the firm’s homepage and see if he’s listed there or in some employee directory.
But what if he isn’t there? And suppose the firm doesn’t have a search engine where you can look for him? In that case, use Google to search for his name within the company’s website like this:
Bill Gates site:microsoft.com.
If the website blocks Google from searching within the site, (and some do) you can still Google “Bill Gates” Microsoft. The latter may pull up other reliable sources such links to newspapers and charitable events that show his affiliation with the company.
To find where lawyers and other professionals work, you could also Google a person’s name along with their occupation, like this:
“Graham Firestone” attorney or
“Graham Firestone” attorney Georgia
Verify If They Have A Professional License
Earlier we used the professional licensing boards to show where they currently work. But here we just want to know if they really are a doctor or lawyer or acupuncturists. Unlike commercial directories, the licensing boards will have every single person in that profession.
How Do I Search For Licenses?
Every state’s website is different and has different ways to search for a professional. In GA, for instance, you can do a general name search without checking off which profession you’re looking for. This is great when you’re just curious as to what they do for a living.
In most cases, I recommend you search by first and last name and a profession. If you can’t find them, search by last name only. Sometimes people will register with a first name, but their friends and colleagues know them by only their middle name.
Occupational Licensing Boards For All 50 States & DC.
See also Their Profession/License Or Certifications (Consumer-SOS)
Verify Job Histories of State, Federal and Other Government Employees (Salary Lookups)
Nearly one sixth of all U.S. employees work for the government. That’s right. Twenty two million people. The links below can show up to six years of their employment history and may include their job title and salary.
See Public Salaries & Employment History (Blog) and
Verify Job Histories of Executives At Publicly Traded Companies
Each year, high ranking officers of big companies like Walmart, Exxon and Apple must publish their job title and salaries. So you can see exactly how long they worked there and what their job title was. See Private Salaries That Are Really Public (Blog) and
Verify If They Own A Corporation (Consumer-SOS)
The government keeps records on every Inc., Corp, and LLC.
The link above will also show if they are officers or agents of the company. Sites ending in .gov are the most accurate. Other non government sources may miss records, but are good when you don’t know what state the company may be incorporated in. (Allows you to search by the person’s name or company name in all 50 states at once).
Verify if They Own A Business That’s Not Incorporated or Have Patents or Other Intellectual Property
Some people are inventors. Others have a thriving business which you can only find through their websites. For links to find out if they own a website or other intangible property, see Find Their Intellectual Property(Consumer-SOS).
Verify if They Are High Up In A NonProfit or Foundation
See Foundations & Non-Profits (By Individual or Company)