How Do Employers Verify College Degrees?

More and more jobs are double-checking to make sure you're not making things up about your schooling on your resume.
December 18, 2020
4 mins read

When applying for a job, verifying someone’s educational background is an essential component of any background check. Background checks help companies hire qualified applicants even though checking their college degrees is often seen as an additional measure in the process. Certified and licensed companies like Check People help employers get to know potential hires better.

Why are they necessary? A lot of people tweak data on their resumes. They aren’t always completely accurate, but it’s not a problem most of the time. Most employers will forgive a little white lie.

The problems start when lies go beyond being little. Some people provide completely false certification or degree information. Sometimes, they’ll push their graduation year forward if they don’t want a potential hirer to know it took them a bit too long to graduate. Other times, they’ll lie about having a degree. For many employers, this is becoming a real concern.

Before we get into how employers check degrees, here are a few more details about education background checks.

The Anatomy of an Education Background Check

Typically, these checks are used to verify attendance dates or if someone actually obtained a degree. The candidate’s school’s office of records can verify most degrees, but sometimes third-party companies conduct the verification in exchange for payment. To perform degree verification, a potential employer might ask for a copy of your diploma and transcript of records. Some companies ask their job candidates for a sealed transcript.

A recruiter can authenticate your degree by getting in touch with the college or university you went to. If this is happening through a third party, this service will request your diploma from the school.

A background check isn’t the only way to verify a college degree. Employers might conduct a preliminary test or exam, assess your skills during the interview, or simply check popular social networks for additional information about your education and credentials.

Preliminary Tests or Exams

Many companies ask their applicants to take an exam or test to see if they are qualified for the position or simply as a stage in the interview process. They do this to filter underqualified people out. They might ask you for copies of any diplomas or certificates stated on your resume.

Assessing Skills

An experienced interviewer will know what to ask to see if someone has the skills they claim to have. Candidates should be prepared for this and demonstrate their capabilities and knowledge.

Researching Social Networks

To many employers, social media are much more than a friendly, fun way to communicate and engage with other people. They are a rich source of information. Recruiters might look for your profile to see your education. Doing research on social media helps them judge whether accounts are legitimate and if the data someone has provided is valid.

Is the Demand for Education Background Checks Rising?

You bet. Impressive credentials pay off — according to data of the U.S. Census Bureau, people with bachelor’s degrees make twice as much a year as those with only a high school degree. This is why employers are turning to education verifications as an additional component of a standard background check more and more often. This is the case even though a standard check can yield a wealth of information about someone, which should suffice by all accounts.

Higher education shows someone is consistent and follows through on their goals. This is a very valuable trait for any employee to have. The ability to complete tasks is crucial in terms of meeting company goals, reaching targets and successful teamwork.

Education Verification Minimizes Risk

Of course, employers want to avoid the risk of misrepresentation on the candidate’s part. Even entry-level positions can require more than a high school diploma in our competitive job market. To improve their prospects, some candidates will exaggerate or flat-out make up qualifications. What’s more, they know they might get caught, but they will take the chance.

Finally, there is the danger of diploma mills to reckon with. These companies sell certificates, diplomas, or degrees without the need for the “client” to make any academic effort in return. These companies are not accredited as educational establishments, so their degrees are not legitimate.

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