If you’re applying to a new job, or just putting together your resume in preparation for the job hunt, the subject of educational experience inevitably arises. Everybody fudges their history a little bit, but when it comes to schooling, how far do you go? Should you stick to the unimpressive facts, or is it ok to add accurate yet undocumented data to this section? Before you finish up that resume you need to know one thing: do employers check your education?
Finding a good job is difficult and extremely competitive. Even a small piece of information can give you an edge over other applicants. It’s important to stick to the facts, of course, but when job ads ask for a degree or equivalent experience, how do you respond? How do you list unfinished or non-standard schooling on your resume, and will an employer check your educational claims to see if you’re telling the truth?
We’ve got the answers below, complete with methods for verifying your own educational background using public records and reliable background check services.
Education, employment, and verification
Education on resumes is a sticky subject. While most employers want relevant degrees, experience is often more important than a diploma. Below we look at some of the pros, cons, pitfalls, and perils of claiming educational credits on your resume, and what employers do to verify these claims.
What is a false education claim?
There’s a fine line between lying on a job application and telling a half truth. For example, a lot of applicants go ahead and claim unfinished degrees on their job applications. Maybe they were just a few credits short or had to drop out due to financial or familial considerations. Either way, most of the education was completed, so why not add the degree to the list?
Relevant experience is another part of the equation. Many employers want a degree or the equivalent of a degree in experience before considering an applicant. If you did similar work in school, or have certifications in line with the job you’re applying for, why not add them to the resume?
We would never recommend someone put false claims on their resume, but gray areas do arise from time to time. The situations where you’re “not sure” about putting something on an application often prompt the question “But will the employer check on my education?” It’s these cases we want to discuss in more detail below.
How do employers verify your education?
There are a number of ways a potential employer can check up on your educational claims. The most obvious is contacting your school or university and asking them to verify your degree. This is time consuming and does not guarantee results, however, so unless you’re one of a few viable applicants for a powerful position, you can generally assume no phone call will take place.
The second option for checking on education is doing a simple search on the internet. The results of this search can vary widely depending on the degree you claim to have. If it’s a low level position with a standard undergraduate degree, Google will likely provide few answers. Alumni records can show up online, however. These can quickly verify your claims but are poor indicators of a falsehood.
The final form of checking on your education is running a background check. Employers can use these services to comb through public records in an instant, validating or disproving any claims you made in a matter of seconds. Backgrounds checks are the area you’ll really need to be aware of, which is why we’ll spend an entire section on them below.
Is it likely an employer will check your education?
Some recruiters say “yes, absolutely”. Others say they barely bother looking up a person’s background data as long as it sounds plausible. A 2015 survey conducted for the HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report said that 86% of the surveyed employers reported that checking on an applicant’s credentials turned up at least one lie. A number of these related to previous work experience claims and false degrees.
It doesn’t matter if employers check on your education or not, you should be fully prepared in case they do. The best way to do this is to stick to “just the facts” whenever possible, and run any questionable claims through a background check on yourself to make sure you’re in the clear.
Consequences of employers checking on your education
What if you put a lie or a half truth on your job application and your employer finds out? What if something you did doesn’t show up on a background check and your employer thinks you lied?
Educational checks before the interview
For high value positions, employers are much more likely to check up on educational claims made by potential applicants. This can include verifying degrees and matching certifications with names. These checks are rarely thorough, as hiring managers will have hundreds of people to validate with each position. But if any red flags arise, they’ll take action pretty quickly.
Having a falsehood show up on your resume before the interview simply means you won’t be considered for the position. Your resume will be tossed in the trash and you’ll never hear from the employer again. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure your claims show up on a self-run background check before hitting the submit button.
Checking education after hiring
In some cases you might find yourself passing the interviews and being offered a job with your new employer. They may wait until this moment to run a background check to verify your credentials, or they could do this weeks or months after you start the job. Either way, the consequences for issues arising at this juncture are far more dire.
If an employer checks your education after you start a job and discovers inconsistencies, their first action will likely be asking you to explain the situation. On-the-spot firings are also common. Lawsuits are not the standard in situations like this, but depending on an employee’s situation, they are certainly a possibility.
What increases odds of the education check?
Employers across industries do not share the same outlook when it comes to checking on an applicant’s educational background. There are some situations and some businesses that are far more likely to run these checks before interviewing a candidate.
Here are a few factors that will greatly increase the chances of an employer checking up on your educational claims. Avoid these and it’s more likely you’ll stay in the clear:
- Applying to a government, financial, educational, or other public service position.
- Making outrageous claims that do not fit your experience or skill.
- Multiple suspicious educational claims on a single resume.
Run a background check on yourself before applying
Not sure if your education or experience will validate if an employer runs a background check? There’s one sure-fire way to find out: run a background check on yourself! The internet has made it extremely easy to discover data about any person in the United States by browsing through public records.
We’ve collected the most affordable and best background checking services below so you can monitor your own public past and make sure your employer sees exactly what’s on your resume.
1 – BeenVerified
BeenVerified is one of the most trusted background checking services around. It offers the ability to search through criminal records, bankruptcies, contact information, educational history, and personal data such as physical addresses, real age, and much more, all available from a single convenient location. BeenVerified has been trusted for over ten years and serves more than 100,000 subscribers, so you know it lives up to its claims.
It’s extremely easy to use BeenVerified to run a background check on yourself. Start by choosing a membership plan, selecting from a number of affordable options, all of which include unlimited reports, unlimited phone and e-mail lookups, and fast record searches. After joining you’ll be able to search public records using BeenVerified’s easy to understand browser site or apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad.
BeenVerified makes it easy to check on your own background to make sure your educational claims are showing up for potential employers.
2 – Instant CheckMate
Instant CheckMate is a records searching service that lets you run online background checks through public content with just a few clicks. Use it to search for anyone in the United States, including yourself, combing through arrest records, criminal records, known aliases, financial history, previous jobs, and of course, educational background. Information is delivered instantly through an easy to use web interface or on mobile apps for convenient access anywhere you go.
Using Instant CheckMate to run an educational background check on yourself is as straightforward as typing in your name and city location. ICM sources its data from real public records and organizes everything into detailed yet straightforward reports. You can enjoy unlimited searches with every subscription plan, as well, which makes it easy to check up on yourself at any time.
3 – TruthFinder
Does your degree show up in a background check? How about the certifications and employment history you put on your resume? To make sure your employer sees exactly what you put on your resume, you should run a background check on yourself using a service like TruthFinder. TruthFinder delivers a ton of useful information, including criminal and arrest data, contact information, financial histories, educational background, and employment records. You can also search through deep and dark web information and social media data to see what else shows up on a public search.
Many background checking companies let you search thousands of public record sources, but few present the information in an easy to understand way. TruthFinder delivers the data you need in smart reports that anyone can read in an instant. You can sign up and run a background check on yourself in a matter of moments, all without having to interpret complicated charts and data spreadsheets.
4 – Intelius
Intelius delivers accurate, up to date, and easy to understand information gathered from countless public record sources. Subscription plans are affordable and offer just the right set of features you need, including instant access to background checks on yourself, as well as unlimited searches through other readily-available databases. As soon as you join you’ll be able to look through arrest reports, social network data, financial information, educational backgrounds, and so much more.
The internet has made it extremely easy for employers to check your education. Making false claims on a resume can get you into a lot of trouble, but if you run a background check on yourself, you can verify that anything you put on your resume will show up in a public records search, ensuring any checks a potential employer runs fail to turn up incriminating data.
Got a good story about running a background check on yourself? Share your experiences in the comments section below!