Background and Reference Checks in the Food Industry – What to Expect

October 16, 2023 in Career and Job Search Tips



Are you currently searching for a new job in the food and beverage industry? There’s a good chance that you will run into background checks and/or reference checks as part of the hiring process. Here’s what you need to know to proactively manage both processes:

Background Checks

These commonly consist of employment verification, education verification, and criminal background checks. Less common, but not unheard of, is a social media check. The process for any of these can take 1-2 weeks or longer. Here’s additional information on each:

Employment Verification. The primary purpose is to confirm the job titles and dates listed on your resume. So, make sure they are 100% accurate. They may also ask prior employers if you are “eligible for rehire,” which primarily refers to whether you gave two weeks’ notice and left on good terms or not.

Education Verification. Primarily to confirm that the degrees you list on your resume are accurate. Secondarily, the dates. Only list a degree (such as a Bachelor in Business Administration) if you completed and received the degree.

Criminal Background Check. These determine what, if any, criminal convictions you may have. (Typically going back 9 years.) Note that, in theory, employers can only hold convictions against you if they are directly relevant to the job you are being considered for.

Social media check. Not common, but sometimes employers will pay for a review of what you have posted online. Generally, they are looking for any threats of violence or inappropriate content.

Reference Checks

Even more common than background checks, reference checks are often part of the hiring process. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Generally, employers will want 3 references. All three should be coworkers, and at least two should be prior bosses or supervisors. Pro tip: Make sure you keep in touch with former bosses & supervisors!
  • When asked for references, provide their name, title, phone, email address, and how you know the individual (e.g., “I reported to Mary at ABC Company.)
  • Don’t use someone as a reference without their express permission each time you use them as a reference. Pro tip: Tell your references about the job you applied for, so they can share relevant information.
  • Each time you reach out to someone for permission to use them as a reference, confirm that they are able and willing to provide timely feedback. It’s painful when hiring processes get delayed because one or more of your references isn’t responsive! Pro tip: Be specific! Ask: “Can you commit to responding within one business day when you are contacted for a reference? What’s the best way to reach you?”

Kinsa Group’s food industry recruiters and our broad network of food industry executives are always looking for top talent and we’d like to help you find the best opportunity to match your skills. Submit your resume today and our recruiters will reach out as new roles open up!

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This blog post was written by George Blomgren, Kinsa Group Recruiting ManagerConnect with him on LinkedIn.