Facts you need to know about education verification

Employment candidates may embellish their employment tasks and positions, but tend to lie about their education.

Yes, you have read right – that person interviewing with your Human Resource Manger and other relevant executives, the one looking presentable and acting bright and articulate may well be inventing his/her education.

In most cases your candidate’s claim to a higher education is not necessarily a total invention. He/she may have in fact actually enrolled in the university listed on the resume and he/she just didn’t graduate from that school, or any other school, for that matter.

However, there are those, a notable amount of employment candidates who have engaged in what we term “a ghost attendance”. They not only failed to graduate from the school, but they never enrolled at all!

Why they chose that particular school as their fictional place of graduation is anyone’s guess, but out of experience candidates lie about graduating from schools they may have never seen, save for photos on the Internet. The HR person should always consider “the ghost attendance” a very real possibility and be prepared to check it..

In respect to the fact at which schools the job candidates may claim to have graduated, the selection is varied and sometimes darkly amusing.

Some may choose the smaller and more out-of-the-way schools, others may select something arty and prestigious, one of those schools you may hear about but not know much about.

Your candidate can take obscurity in another direction and list on their resume some grievously remote or sub-par institute of higher learning that few ever even heard of. By listing an obscure Mid-Western school or esoteric New England college, as place of graduation, your candidate may believe he/she helps substantiate his credibility.

Even the most astute HR person may well determine no one would actually lie about graduating from a Reed College, in Oregon, Amherst, in Massachusetts, or Lake Forest, in Illinois? Or for that matter, as a defense against low self-esteem, who would dare boast of graduating from one of the legions of North Western Eastern Slippery Eel Teacher’s College in the corner of the middle of nowhere? The thinking goes, and you may accept their claim at face value and never bother to check it out.

Other candidates will take the alternate route by choosing the larger schools, believing their names and alleged graduation dates may well get lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. Of course, if they did attend for a while, they might hope their registered enrollment may mistakenly be interpreted as proof of graduation – what they would lack in education, they will make up for in audacity.

At the end, there are the no degree degrees. These are the phony degrees awarded for “life and work experience” and are not representative of attendance or graduation from any legitimate or accredited college. They are totally fake, but popular. The more enterprising among the duplicitous can purchase these degrees online from anywhere, from fifty to several hundred dollars. The graduate degrees are a pricier than the mere Bachelors’ , but they are available from any number of phony universities. Some of them even look impressive, provided you don’t try to find the school’s physical address on the Internet.

Before you get upset or become overly suspicious, bear in mind that those who lie about their degrees, comprise a minority of employment candidates.

Your candidate is the one who says he/she is and did attend and graduate from the college listed in his resume. Bear in mind the operative phase here is “more often than not”. With that in mind, think of the ways you may cause embarrassment and litigation, if you mistakenly hire someone, who has obtained only a fictional degree.

In certain cases it may be true that lacking a Bachelor’s degree in certain disciplines may be irrelevant. For example, there is a saying that a good sales person is born and not made, or something to that affect. But while that may be true in certain disciplines, in more than a few someone better have the qualifications afforded through the proper education.

It may well be your new hire, with his fictional degree, that may genuinely lack the skill sets required for the job and this reality can cause all sorts of problems and even lead to catastrophe in its myriad forms.

Since you have allocated time and money to his hire, you have distracted your work force, at least those who have conducted the various interviews, then when hiring this person, bear in mind that you may have rejected a candidate who was truly qualified, but is no longer available.

In this case you must now allocate additional resources to hire someone else. This type of mistakes can detract from employee morale, as well as your bottom line.

In addition to this, by hiring someone not qualified by virtue of lacking his degree, you are jeopardizing your relationship with clients. You may have assigned this person to a client, and now your employee has messed things up through is lack of qualifications. This could make your client extremely unhappy, he/she may demand compensation, and may even threaten you by a lawsuit. This is not only costly, but embarrassing, and reputation harming.

If you think this can not happen to you, you better think again! These are not the stories executives like to brag about over lunch, but stories that are whispered. The whispering is far more ominous and damaging to your business!

Let’s face it, if your failure to perform due diligence causes, proves detrimental to your client, then you will be held accountable and will look foolish and cheap. In such situation you may also be looking for another client to replace the one who left you.

Overall, the moral to this story is that your Human Resources Management must check out everyone, no matter how trustworthy they sound and look.

It is essential to have a pre-employment screening program that works and to include education verification, as part of that program.

The amount you spend up front to verify your candidate’s graduation can save you plenty in money and time, as well as and potential litigation and embarrassment.

Those who win contracts with major corporations, especially technology, defense and security related industries, will find these companies’ mandate background checks for everyone who will be working on the project, including education verification. (they will insist on verification of all degrees and not just the highest).

When conducting education verification the following things should be kept in mind:

  1. Colleges and Universities typically provide verification: in-house, through the National Student Clearing House or another third party service. If the University is registered with a third party service, the degree can be verified the same day. Third party services charge a fixed rate for access verification. Background checking agencies will add on to this rate, while others will pass it on at cost.

  2. Degrees are verified by background checking services within a couple, few days. The process may take longer if your candidate has either graduated some years back, or is not listed in the database.

  3. Verification takes longer over the holidays, semester break or the summer, so be prepared to allow for more time for verification.

  4. Verification from foreign universities takes longer, than domestic verification. The rates for foreign verification are significantly higher than charges for a domestic university. Be prepared to pay more and wait longer for the foreign verification.

  5. Some schools will ask for your candidate’s disclosure and release, form before issuing the verification, so be prepare to provide it.

  6. When providing your candidate’s information to the University or third party service, include the years attended, the year graduated, the actual degree and major, and the campus where your candidate attended (if applicable).

  7. If your candidate is a female, be sure the information you submit reflects the actual name with which your candidate graduated, as sometimes your candidate applies for the position under her married name and fails to provide her maiden name.

  8. The above may also apply for foreign students. Sometimes foreign candidates will change their names after graduation, to make them more accessible in the American workplace. Bear in mind that they may have attended school, using their formal name.

  9. If the school or the third party service is having a difficult time verifying your candidate’s degree, they may request a facsimile of his diploma or final transcripts.

  10. Keep your verification process uniform – you may decide to verify all degrees or only the highest degree obtained, but regardless of this whatever you do for one candidate, you should do for all the rest.

  11. Make sure your background checking service stays in front of any complications that may appear in the verification process, by establishing and maintaining fluid communication channels. In this way the service can keep you informed and request additional information when needed.

  12. If for some reason and after all due diligence you are unable to verify your candidate’s degree, it probably means he/she never obtained one. They may try to talk their way out of it, but insist they provide information that this has been requested. It is nothing exceptional about this information for anyone who has truly graduated from an accredited college or university. If they can not provide that information, you may want to look for another candidate. Remember the axiom that if they lie about their degree then they will lie when on the job, was not accepted for a wisdom for no reason – check them out before you hire.

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