January 17th, 2018 | Sterling

Why Are Education Verifications Important to Employers?

A CV is how potential employers get a first impression of the skills, experiences and qualifications of their applicants. In today’s competitive employment market, job seekers are using a variety of CV types and styles to sell themselves, their education and their past work. Applicants are searching for ways to compete with one another and one of the common ways is by padding, embellishing, exaggerating and even downright lying on their CV. Lies that have appeared on CVs can run from minor embellishments to a candidate’s complete fabrications on their qualifications and experiences. One such way which job seekers have been seen to “beef up” their CV is to add additional educational degrees that they might not have earned or could have purchased from a diploma mill.

An employment background check provides a detailed look at a new hire, giving organisations the insight they need to make an informed hiring decision. Sterling published “Background Screening in the UK-Best Practices to Make Informed Hiring Decisions.” The report looks at nine of the most common pre-employment checks in the UK, including education and credential verifications. The eBook details what each check entails, explains why employers conduct each check and provides some practical considerations that may improve a company’s background screening programme.

The “Background Screening in the UK” Report shares examples of red flags that have appeared in our data. Discrepancies pop up when the information provided by the candidate does not match what is found by the screening provider. Based on our background screening results, employees in the financial services sector (23%) may be more likely to have a red flag in their education verification. Similarly, directors (24%) and salespeople (23%) seem to be significantly more likely to have a discrepancy in their employment and credential verifications compared to other employees.

Avoid Deception From Diploma Mills

Each year, thousands of job candidates fabricate their education history, in a wide variety of ways. Modern technology has given rise to diploma mills, which are organisations that claim to be a higher education institution but which offer illegitimate academic degrees and diplomas for a fee. These degrees may claim to give credit for relevant life experience, evaluate work history and require submission of a thesis or dissertation for evaluation to give an appearance of authenticity. Most diploma mills have very convincing websites and will provide their “students” with official-looking degrees and transcripts. However, these institutions do not have accreditations and rarely have any kind of physical location. Diploma mills offer custom study programs that can be earned in just a few months, weeks or even days at a flat fee without specified school work or exams.

BBC Radio 4 has taken a deeper investigation into diploma mills and the large-scale trade of fake degrees with their documentary, “File on 4: Degrees of Deception.” The programme spotlights how a Pakistani company, called Axact, has sold thousands of fake diplomas and certifications to UK-based buyers over the years. The fake degrees have touched upon every industry from medical to technical to defense contracting. According to the documentary, “While purchasing a fake diploma was not illegal in the UK, using one to apply for employment constituted fraud by misrepresentation and could result in a 10-year prison sentence.” The BBC investigation shows that having the correct education verification in place is vital when performing due diligence on new hires.

What are Education Verifications?

Training and education are often the cornerstones of a successful hire. Whether it’s a university degree, technical training or a secondary school qualification, ensuring the validity of an applicant’s education and credentials is essential for peace of mind in hiring decisions. What makes an education verification so vital? These checks are often the primary indication of an applicant’s knowledge of a skill or position. Education and credential verifications confirm the validity of any claims made on a job application, enabling employers to extend the candidate a job offer with confidence.

Education verifications authenticate candidates’ academic history, degree type, honours received, industry qualifications and professional membership claims directly with registrars and administration offices. Professional background screening companies maintain a database of legitimate educational institutions as well as known diploma mills to immediately identify them during the education verification process. Sterling actively identifies and monitors these types of suspicious educational institutions.

It is more important than ever to establish all educational and training claims directly with the source noted on the CV or application. Companies need to determine which type of background screening check is the most important to protect their employees and businesses. Download a complimentary copy of our “Background Screening in the UK-Best Practices to Make Informed Hiring Decisions” eBook to find out more about the types of background screening in the UK.

Explore Best Practices of Background Screening in the UK

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.