Education Verification – How Employers Can Avoid a “Cat”astrophy

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Let’s face it – one of the most common aspects of falsification on a candidate’s resume is their education.

Since many employers require job-related degrees or majors, many candidates may stretch their educational history in the hopes that potential employers won’t check for discrepancies.

For example, a candidate with a Bachelor of Arts in English might instead list a Master of Science in Biology on a job application for a healthcare position.

An overwhelming 86 percent of the employers surveyed in the 2015 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report said that screening had exposed a candidate who lied on their resume.

Many of these employers also stated that the top benefit they received from background screening candidates was improving the quality of their hires.

A background screening provider can help you get to know your candidate by verifying the school, professional program and degree achieved that they listed on their application.

If the candidate has not yet graduated and has stated so, a background screening company should still be able to verify the major (if applicable) and dates of attendance.

Some educational institutions may need consent from the candidate before releasing any information.

Potential employers can validate the following items with an education verification:

  • Candidates’ degree/diploma/credential
  • Graduation or completion date
  • Major of degree
  • Official educational accrediting body

Diploma Mills

Some candidates may not be entirely truthful about the institution that issued their “degree.” Some may have bought “degrees” or “diplomas” from companies commonly known as diploma mills.

These companies appear to be a higher education institution but are unaccredited and offer illegitimate degrees for a fee. Diploma mills will often be named in a similar fashion to reputable universities, which is intentionally misleading to employers.

These companies require little to no work (other than payment) to receive a document purporting to be a degree or diploma.

Because these diploma mills advertise how people can earn degrees with “life experience” instead of class credits, desperate candidates may turn to diploma mills in an attempt to meet an employer’s job requirements.

However, a reputable background screening company should be able to uncover these illegitimate degrees that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Just how easy is it for a candidate to get a “degree”? In 2004, a cat named Colby Nolan was awarded an executive MBA from a “university” in Plano, Texas.

This “university” awarded Colby the cat with an official-looking diploma including the signatures of the university’s President and Dean. Colby “earned” his degree with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Employers should be wary that just because a candidate has something that looks like a diploma it doesn’t mean that person has the actual training or expertise that goes with it.

Diploma mills are ubiquitous and ever-changing. It is nearly impossible to maintain a complete published list of active diploma mills – it is an ever-expanding list so employers may find the expertise of a credible background screening provider very helpful when vetting a candidate’s degree.

Why Is This Important?

Checking genuine qualifications are crucial in making well informed hiring decisions.

Having a background screening provider verify your candidate’s education can take the stress out of finding a match between the candidate’s alleged schooling and your position’s requirements and thus allowing you to focus on other important aspects of the recruiting process.

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Sabrina Lu

Sabrina Lu is a professional writer based in the Orange County area with a degree in Writing from San Francisco State University. Although technical writing was the focus in her studies, Sabrina also enjoys creative writing and the various forms of expression. She values strong opinions and is always interested in learning about different perspectives. Her free time is usually filled with sandy beaches, fluffy animals, fusion foods, and the latest beauty trends.

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