Why Education and Degree Verification is Crucial in Your Hiring Process

As an employer, attracting the very best talent when hiring is your priority. The problem is, glowing resumes often exaggerate the truth about a candidate’s qualifications. Of course it’s common for job applicants to embellish their resumes to spice up what might otherwise come across as mediocre qualifications and experience but outright lying about diplomas and degrees is astonishingly common.

In fact hiring managers report that education background checks reveal that almost 60% of applicants lie about their qualifications. If these discrepancies are not caught early in the recruitment process, they can be costly and embarrassing, so you can see just how important conducting educational background checks is in your recruitment process.

Why bother with an educational background check?

Over exaggerating or lying about qualifications isn’t limited only to candidates for entry-level and mid-level positions. Even highly regulated professions such as the medical industry for example are prone to infiltration by unqualified individuals; like the recent case of a fake doctor working at a Sydney hospital for eight months before she was exposed. The 27-year-old falsified her documents after failing her final medical exams. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority was forced to admit that the “incident demonstrated incompetence in the system”, which could have been avoided with proper education background checks.

What Information does education verification reveal?

An educational background check is the process of confirming an applicant’s education history and qualifications to ensure any claims by the applicant are accurate. The process can be time consuming but can help save a lot of hassle and expense in the long run. Here’s what you can find out about an applicant’s education and degree history from education verification pre-employment screening:

High school diplomas

Associates and undergraduate degrees

Graduate degrees

Attendance dates

Institutions attended

Licenses and certifications

Should you verify every candidate’s education history?

Sometimes not all of an applicant’s stated qualifications are relevant to the job they are applying for, such as labour force employment, but if necessary, you can also request additional information such as GPA, honours earned and professional references. Due diligence in verifying education history is crucial though when hiring for specialized positions in industries such as healthcare, construction and education. You must be 100% sure that your candidates have the knowledge and skills from bona fide training and education to perform the everyday duties that come with these more prestigious positions. Perhaps more importantly, you mitigate the risk of facing costly lawsuits and liability claims or a tarnished brand image if you take those extra steps to verify their qualifications.

Beware of fake degrees from diploma mills

These days it’s easy enough for anyone wanting to appear to be qualified to acquire a fake degree or other qualifications from one of the many diploma mills that can be found online.

A diploma mill or degree mill is an unaccredited organization offering paper college degrees that do not meet educational standards or don’t require the students to do any study. The ‘students’ can simply buy a diploma or degree for a flat fee, usually a few hundred dollars – much cheaper and more convenient that spending thousands actually attending classes at a proper university.

There are more than 3,000 diploma mills in existence, according to the New York Times, dishing out about 50,000 Ph.Ds a year on average. That’s a huge number of people carrying around fake qualifications so the chances that they are among your applicants is high.

Although issuing fake degrees leads to academic fraud, diploma mills are not illegal so the onus is entirely on employers to verify candidates’ qualifications because the employer and the employee are held liable if it is later discovered that the employee’s qualifications were fake.

How long does education and degree verification take?

As we mentioned earlier, education verification can be time consuming because it requires more than a quick internet search. HR teams often dedicate many hours to manually checking academic credentials because they have to contact the educational institution by phone, email or post and wait for a response, which could take several weeks.

That’s where background screening providers like us can help speed up the process and make it less resource intensive for HR teams. At InteliMasters, we can usually verify individual candidate qualifications within a few days by contacting schools and universities directly. We are well trained at spotting fake or unaccredited degrees from diploma mills, giving you more peace of mind that your shortlisted candidates’ qualifications have been verified as accurate.

***Disclaimer***
Intelimasters is a background screening agency, not a law firm. This article is for informational purposes only. Nothing in it should be considered as legal advice. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific business and/or individual needs.