How to Look Up Employment History Using a Social Security Number

by Heather Skyler; Updated April 09, 2018

Some of us out there have long and varied employment histories. It is rare these days to meet a person who has worked for a single company for more than 10 years. When you apply for a new job, you are often required to give a detailed account of your employment history. What happens if you can't recall all of the details in terms of where you worked and when? It's not a good idea to guess dates or names when it comes to a job application. If the potential employer decides to make a few fact-checking calls, and it looks as if you've lied on your application, you're in a bad position.

Look Up Records at the Social Security Administration

If you've gone blank on the details of some of your jobs, the Social Security Administration can help. Simply fill out a Request for Social Security Earnings Information form and submit it. In return, you will receive detailed information about your work history including employment dates, employer names and addresses, and earnings. There is a fee of $115 to receive this detailed list of employers.

Your State Unemployment Office

A free option may be to get records from your state's unemployment office. If you've moved around a lot, this could prove difficult, but if most of your employment was in one or two states, you can request these records and reconstruct your job history. Check with your state for what is available.

Use Your Tax Forms

If you've been good about saving tax records, you should have your W2 forms, which contain information about previous employers. But if you still can't find the dates of your previous employment, try calling the human resources office at each company you worked for and asking for specific months and years.

Beware of Abuse

Whenever you're sending a request using your Social Security number, you are vulnerable to identity theft. Be certain to provide the correct address where you want to receive your employment records. In addition, keep the information in a safe and secure place once you have it. It's important to keep your Social Security number private. Once you have obtained the employment history, consider putting all of the information on a Linked In account or on a resume that you keep on your personal computer and update each time you change jobs. That way, the next time you're asked for an employment history, you won't need to seek help and pay fees to the Social Security Administration.

About the Author

Heather Skyler is a freelance journalist and novelist. Her work appears in The Daily Beast, The New York Times, GOOD magazine, the OC Register, Delta's SKY magazine and elsewhere.

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