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Behind the Resume: The Importance of Verifying Education and Employment

Stephanie Cook | Uncategorized

You know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, it’s just as applicable during the hiring process when reviewing resumes. It’s easy to look at a detailed and sophisticated resume and assume that everything listed is accurate, but the truth of the matter is that just because it’s written on a piece of paper, doesn’t make it true.

Research suggests that over 50% of job applicants falsify or embellish their resume to obtain a job. In most cases this falsification is directly related to the individual’s education and/or work experience. According to a survey by CareerBuilder.Com in 2015, employers reported that 31% of the falsifications they found were related to job title, 28% were related to academic degrees, and 62% were embellished responsibilities and skill sets. This adds up to an additional challenge for human resources professionals and a major risk to mitigate for any company.

Just this year, reports circulated that a White House employee tasked with being an administrative leader of the Office of National Drug Control Policy had been demoted when an investigation revealed inaccuracies on his resume, regarding his educational background and work experience. And this isn’t the first time that a federal investigation like this occurred. Your company doesn’t have to be as large as the White House for this kind of PR nightmare to cause massive problems. A misrepresentation at the employee level can be perceived as a misrepresentation at the company level by clients and customers, causing damage to your brand and image.

Further, resume falsifications can be dangerous, especially for safety sensitive positions where a lack of experience or education could lead to injury or worse. It’s also easy to correlate that an individual capable of making even small elaborations or “white lies” on their resume has the potential to make unethical decisions during their employment tenure.

So how do companies negate the possibility of a negligent hire due to a falsified resume or misrepresented job experience? The simple answer is education and employment verifications, including reference checks. At a basic level, education and employment verifications can provide confirmation of accurate information being provided, but it also shows his/her commitment and loyalty to growing with your company. Often, job candidates will misrepresent their estimated dates of employment to show longevity with a company or misrepresent their position to seem more qualified.

At PSI, our reference team finds large discrepancies of job tenure as well as inaccurately provided job titles almost daily. Delving deeper with reference checks, inquiring about job performance and personal characteristics, can further confirm an individual’s experience level within their position and help you to determine if the person is a fit for your company.
For positions requiring a specific level of education, it is imperative to confirm that your job candidate has met all requirements to confer the degree or diploma they have claimed.

Obtaining a copy of the degree or diploma is no guarantee of completion, as many companies exist online that sell falsified documentation, like degrees, diplomas, and transcripts from known universities. While these companies claim that the documents are for “entertainment purposes only,” their realistic look could fool even the most seasoned Human Resources professional. A true verification cannot be obtained unless it is done directly with the institution or the third-party service hired by the institution, such as the National Student Clearinghouse.

But even confirmation of the degree or diploma is not enough when it comes to ensuring that your job candidate has the right level of education. For most employers, a degree or diploma must be conferred from a college or university that has been accredited by a regulated agency under the United States Department of Education (US DOE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

While the accreditation process is voluntary, it allows schools, colleges, and universities to demonstrate that the education they are providing meets a minimum, regulated standard. At PSI, we verify the accreditation of the institution and place the accreditation information in our final report. Diploma mills will often attempt to falsify accreditation or will claim accreditation through an unregulated association, making it extremely important to confirm accreditation during the verification process.

As technology grows and employment opportunities narrow, companies are likely to see a rise in falsified information, experience, and documents provided by job candidates. Ensuring that your company is properly vetting incoming employees by performing criminal history checks, education and employment verifications, and reference checks, can greatly reduce the liability of hiring the wrong candidate and can ensure that your company doesn’t have to face the repercussions of a negligent hire.