May a recruiter call my previous employers?

When you apply for a job, you share your resume with different people: VDAB, temporary employment consultants, HR employees, etc. They can all see where you have worked before. But are they allowed to call your previous employers? For example, to ask for a reference?

Sometimes, a future employer wants to hear the opinion of one of your previous employers about you and your work. This is called a reference. However, it could be that you worked somewhere where your job didn't end positively. Then you certainly don't want a future employer to call there. Fortunately, a recruiter cannot just contact your previous workplaces.

Reference only with permission

A recruiter can only contact your previous employers with your permission. That's what the data protection authority says. This means that they cannot just pick up the phone and call your previous workplace to ask what they thought of you.

If you put the contact details of your previous employers as a reference on your resume, it is allowed. However, the recruiter must let you know when they will contact them. This gives you the opportunity to inform the reference person if necessary.

Collecting references?

During a job interview, you will of course be very positive about yourself. After all, you have to sell yourself. That's why someone else's opinion can be very interesting. So it's a good idea to collect references.

  • Previous employers: Did you have a good working relationship with an employer? Then you can ask the director, team leader, or supervisor for a reference. They have seen you at work, so they know what kind of colleague you are. Also, think about your student jobs.
  • Teachers: If you don't have much work experience yet, you can ask your school or a teacher for a reference.
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