My new employer has been unable to verify my employment at two previous jobs because employee records are not kept beyond three years. What recommendations do you have for this situation?

By | 2022-02-03T17:20:58-05:00 January 4th, 2008|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I recently accepted a job for an ICU RN position at the offered pay rate. Three weeks later, the employer (a mid-size hospital) called and stated they couldn’t verify my employment at two previous jobs (one job from 1985-1994 and the other from 1994-1998). Therefore, they “needed to adjust my pay scale down” by almost $3 per hour.

When I contacted my previous employers, they stated they didn’t have any past employee records beyond three years because the law (Washington state) doesn’t require them to. These past employers — at the Human Resources departments — expressed surprise that my potential new employer would not take my resume at face value. Their only recommendations were to have a fellow employee confirm my dates of employment. While I still know people that work in these facilities, none of my supervisors are still employed there, and the new facility is requesting documents from Human Resources, not just references.

This is a rather frustrating situation, especially as I am a returning to the workforce after a five-year hiatus. Also, I am worried that this will occur again if/when I change jobs. While I am trying to stay balanced and unemotional about this situation, I feel that my honesty, integrity, and character are in question.

What recommendations do you have for this situation?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Cynthia,

I consulted a human resources expert on this perplexing situation. While neither of us has knowledge of the employment laws in Washington state, we both agree that it seem rather strange that employers would only be required to retain employment records for three years — especially in healthcare. He suggests that it might be worth it for you to check with the department of labor in your state to make sure that this information is correct. Find them by looking in the blue (government) pages of your phone book.

It is understandable that an employer might not want to take a resume at face value, since anyone could make anything up. I’m sure it’s a general rule they have rather than something personal, so don’t get paranoid about it.

I suggest contacting your state board of nursing and/or your state nurses association and/specialty association about this problem to see what can be done to change the law. If you are having this problem, than others have it (or will have it), as well. I would also suggest that you contact your local assemblyperson, congressperson, and senators to bring this situation to their attention.

You might be able to get some help or information from your state chapter of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment and/or your state hospital association.

In the future, be sure to keep copies of your performance evaluations and other relevant employment documents — something every nurse should do in every state.

Best Wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit


Discover how can help you find your next dream job.
Just sign up and wait to be paired with your perfect match.

About the Author:


Leave A Comment