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How to Verify Degrees and Protect Your Company From Resume Fraud

Resume writing concept

While resume fraud isn’t as common as it used to be, there are still thousands of candidates who either embellish on their resumes or lie about their credentials. According to Checkerster, 40% of candidates say they put a degree on their resume that they never actually obtained.

Why Are Candidates Lying on Their Resumes?

Candidates lie on their resumes because they want to get a job; it’s that simple. Job candidates worry that if they don’t have the education they need, they won’t be hired. Most in-the-know job applicants create resumes that bypass ATS because they’re more likely to get an interview.

However, depending on the profession, a white lie could cause a lot of trouble for your company. For example, if you hire a CPA without checking what certifications they have, you could both be charged with fraud. This could destroy your company’s reputation or bankrupt your business.

Why Do Employers Need to Verify Education History?

Bankruptcy and litigation are worse-case scenarios. You should already be checking candidates who could become a liability, but what about positions where it doesn’t matter? If a candidate is an expert programmer but lied about their computer science degree, should you fire them?

That’s up to you, but you probably don’t want to keep someone in your company who’s willing to lie on their resume. It could mean they’re lying about something else. However, if you issue a background check, you’re more likely to find someone who’s qualified before they’re hired.

7 Tips on How to Verify Your Candidate’s Credentials

It’s essential to do your due diligence before a candidate is hired so you don’t open yourself up to legal issues or sunken costs. Here’s how you can verify your candidate’s credentials.

1. Use a Third-Party Verification Service

The easiest way to verify a candidate’s education is by using a third-party verification service. Make sure you use a service that matches its data with respective institutions, like the National Student Clearinghouse. These services can check for school diplomas and college degrees.

To use these services, you’ll need the candidate’s full name, the name/address of the institution, dates attended, the title and field of their degree, and a signed authorization release form.

2. Ask for Transcripts or a Degree Copy

Although the DIY route is more complicated and often filled with red-tape, you can ask your candidate for a copy of their transcripts and degree. To ensure this data is legitimate, check if the school exists, the degree is accredited, and whether they attended when they said they did.

3. Speak to the Candidate’s References

While you can’t ask your candidate’s references questions like “did you verify their education credentials?” you can ask if they performed their duties as expected. References aren’t legally allowed to say anything negative, but if they decline to comment, that may be a bad sign.

However, if the references you were given match up with what’s written on their resume and their past employers rate them favorably, you can at least conclude they’re high performers. 

4. Perform a Full Background Check

If you used a third-party education verification service, chances are they also conducted a criminal background check. Regardless, you should submit a background check for some job positions (i.e., child care worker) and a credit record check for others (i.e., bookkeeper).

It’s up to your discretion, as not all positions require extensive checks. However, if you want to avoid problems down the line and hire the best employees, a full check may be necessary.

5. Issue a Test During the Interview

Whether you’re conducting remote interviews or having an in-person discussion, you should issue a test for your candidates, especially if this role is more technical. For example, a developer should receive a coding test. This can assure you that the candidate is skilled.

While it won’t be easy to weed out dishonest candidates in the interview process, tests are still designed to check for certifications that fall away from a degree, like proficiency in C#.

6. Record the Interview (Consent Needed)

If you record the interview, you’ll have proof that the candidate said what they said. Don’t record interviews without expressed written consent from your candidates, as you could breach their privacy. If the candidate doesn’t offer consent, involve multiple people in the interview process.

7. Don’t Add an Education Requirement

We’re not saying your candidates are lying on job applications because you added an education requirement when it wasn’t needed. What we are saying is to remove requirements that aren’t necessary, as doing otherwise could increase the number of dishonest job seekers who apply. 

Preventative measures should be implemented in your hiring process to cut down on costs, as it ensures you don’t attract unqualified applicants or outright liars who need to be verified.

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