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Education Verification for Employment: A Comprehensive Guide

Are fake qualifications slipping through your hiring process? Don’t let false credentials cost your company! Learn how education verification can help you avoid hiring disasters.
An open file with 'Educational Certificate' written on it. A user icon, stamp icon, magnifying glass, degree hat and checklist ticks are there, symbolizing education verification for employment.

Did you know? A recent survey by ResumeLab suggests that 70% of applicants lie about qualifications on their resumes. 37% of applicants admit to lying frequently.

By education level:

  • Master’s/Doctoral: 58% frequently lie, 27% occasionally
  • No college degree: 29% frequently lie, 42% occasionally
  • Bachelor’s/Associate: 30% frequently lie, 33% occasionally

Hiring someone with fabricated credentials may lead to wasted resources, and even damage your organization’s reputation. Fortunately, there is a reliable solution: education verification. Read on for an in-depth understanding of education verification: benefits, legalities, best practices, and more.

What is Education Verification?

Education verification is a key component of the employment background verification process. Since it helps employers validate the academic claims of an applicant as listed on their resumes. By and large this validation process involves contacting the applicant’s schools, colleges, or universities to confirm information regarding their qualifications.

What Does Education Check Verify?

The specific details verified in an education check can vary depending on the employer and the verification service used. However, some of the most common things that are checked include:

Confirmation of enrollment and attendance dates:

  • Whether a candidate was registered at the institution during the claimed timeframe.
  • Discrepancies in start/end dates, leaves of absence, or program completion.

Verification of degree and specialization:

  • The type of degrees a candidate earned (e.g., Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science).
  • The specific area of specialization within the degree (e.g., Marketing in a Business Administration degree).

Graduation status & date:

  • Whether the candidate completed the program and received the degree. 
  • The confirmed date of graduation.

Commonly Found Discrepancies During Education Verification

Education verification is an important step in the hiring process that ensures a candidate’s educational achievements align with the information on their resumes. However, sometimes employers may find discrepancies during the verification process.

Here is a breakdown of such commonly found discrepancies:

Mismatched Dates:

  • Inaccurate enrollment/attendance dates
  • Incorrect graduation date

Degrees and Diplomas:

  • Fake or forged credentials
  • Degrees from institutions with questionable accreditation
  • Inaccurate degree details (level, specialization, etc.)

Enrollment Status:

  • Non-completion of program
  • Undisclosed leaves of absence

Other Discrepancies:

  • Incomplete or missing information
  • Outdated institutional records
  • Potential for digitally manipulated documents

In order to effectively eliminate these discrepancies, you need a multifaceted approach, combining standardized verification methods and collaborating with reputable verification service providers.

Top Reasons Why Employers Should Conduct Education Check

In today’s competitive job market, verifying a candidate’s educational background is no longer optional. Here’s why:

Skills and qualification assessment: A thorough assessment of the qualifications and skills of employees is a must for every organization. Only going through the resumes is not enough as sometimes resumes contain self-supported and inflated information. Education verification ensures that employers can identify the gaps in the information presented to them and the information they come across during verification.

Detecting fake degrees: Forgery of degrees is a growing concern that demands serious attention. Concurrently, with the increase in the number of “Diploma Mills”, access to fake diplomas and counterfeit educational certificates has become very easy. Therefore, as a part of the education verification process, employers check the details like the university’s address, the hologram watermark, and the gold seal. Careful assessment of these details helps employers identify fake degrees and take necessary precautionary steps.

Evaluating honesty and ethical conduct: If a candidate provides false information on their resume, their honesty and integrity become questionable. Consequently, a workforce made of such individuals lacks trustworthiness which jeopardizes the reputation of an organization. Therefore, timely education verification can help employers make the right hiring decision based on these findings.

Ensuring regulatory compliance: Certain industries, like finance, and healthcare have strict regulations regarding employees’ qualifications. Thus, education verification helps employers ensure compliance with these regulations and avoid potential legal or financial penalties.

Legal Considerations for Education Verification

Legal compliance is critical for education verification, protecting organizations from lawsuits, and fostering trust with employees and clients. Key considerations include:

Consent and privacy: Obtain explicit written consent from candidates for education verification, ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.

Anti-discriminatory laws: Ensure compliance with the anti-discriminatory laws applicable in your country. As this assures that the verification process does not discriminate against candidates based on their protected characteristics like race, religion, caste, sex, disability, etc.

Confidentiality in data collection: Make sure that strict confidentiality is maintained regarding the data collected during the verification process. Such data includes educational records and credentials, transcripts, etc. Additionally, you should also ensure that the access to such data is authorized.

Accuracy and documentation: Maintain a uniform and thorough verification process to ensure the accuracy of the procedure. Also make sure to properly document the process, consent forms, verification records, etc to avoid any legal issues.

Data storage and disposal: Adhere to the local laws and regulations regarding data storage and retention. Additionally, develop a clear and uniform data storage policy that dictates how long the academic records of candidates can be stored and the disposal process on expiry of that period.

Besides these common legal considerations, employers must ensure compliance with country-specific laws and regulatory authorities. Some of such laws and authorities are mentioned below:

CountryLawProvisionRegulatory Authority
Hong KongPersonal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO)Governs the collection, handling, and use of personal data. Requires consent, data security, and confidentiality.Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD)
SingaporePersonal Data Protection Act (PDPA)Regulates the management of personal data, ensuring responsible collection, use, and disclosure.Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC)
MalaysiaPersonal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA)Governs the processing of personal data in commercial transactions, requiring consent and data security.Personal Data Protection Commissioner
JapanAct on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI)Sets rules for handling personal data, including consent, security measures, and protection against unauthorized access.Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC)
South KoreaPersonal Information Protection Act (PIPA)Comprehensive regulation on personal data protection, including consent, data security, and rights of data subjects.Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC)
ThailandPersonal Data Protection Act (PDPA)Regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data, requiring consent and data security measures.Personal Data Protection Committee (PDPC)
VietnamDraft Law on Personal Data Protection (PDP)Proposed stricter regulations on personal data processing, including consent and rights of data subjects.Ministry of Public Security (MPS)

In any case, employers must ensure adherence and compliance to each of these legal provisions to avoid any lawsuit or legal action against their organizations.

Best Practices to Follow While Conducting Education Verification

While conducting education verification of potential hires, employers should ensure a fair, compliant, and uniform process for all candidates. We have already discussed the legal aspects of it. Now let’s have a look at some other best practices as mentioned below:

Collect detailed information: Collect all the information you might need about a candidate. The more comprehensive the information is, the easier decision-making becomes. However, do ensure that you are collecting the information uniformly from all candidates within the legal boundaries.

Maintain consistency throughout the process: The process of collecting and verifying the academic credentials should be uniform for all the candidates. This can be achieved by using a standardized checklist and verification procedure.

Hire professional verification services: Navigating the complexities of the verification process and ensuring legal compliance is not easy through DIY verifications. Therefore, consider hiring a professional verification service provider to handle the legalities, regulatory compliance, etc. Reputed background screening service providers have the required experience and expertise to sail through the challenges involved and gather relevant information.

Prioritize clear and prompt communication: Maintain clear and prompt communication with the candidate and the educational institutions during the verification process. Also, keep the candidate informed about the progress and timely follow up with the educational institutions if the responses are slow.

By following these best practices, employers can ensure a smooth, efficient, and compliant education verification process, ultimately coming up with better hiring decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the typical turnaround time (TAT) for an education verification?

The typical TAT for an education verification can range from 24 hours to 10 business days. Basically, it depends on several factors, including:

  • School responsiveness: Busy periods or holidays at the institution can delay the response time.
  • Record availability: Older records may take longer to locate.
  • Verification method: Third-party verification service providers may have faster TAT than DIY verifications.
What specific roles require an education check?


Education verification is especially required for roles that:

  • Demands specific academic qualifications (e.g., doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, scientists and research scholars, data analysts, etc.)
  • Involves handling of sensitive information or finances. 
  • Are working in highly regulated industries such as FinTech, Crypto, etc.
How far back in time do education checks typically look?

Education checks typically verify the degrees listed on a resume. They may not go further back unless there’s a reason to suspect a gap or discrepancy.

Is it possible to conduct an education check for international applicants?

Yes, it is possible to conduct education verification for international applicants. However, the process may require additional steps and compliance with the laws and regulations applicable in the applicant’s country.

Can a candidate's employment eligibility be affected by the findings of an education check?

Yes, in some cases. If the education verification of a candidate reveals any major discrepancy or fake degree then it can affect their employment eligibility.

Is GPA typically included in an education background check?

As a matter of fact,  education checks focus on verifying the degree itself, not your academic performance (GPA). However, it can be verified upon employer request.

Can education checks verify degrees obtained online?

Certainly, education checks can verify degrees obtained online. However, the degree verification depends on the accreditation status of the awarding institution.

How is a foreign degree handled in the education check process?

The process of verifying foreign degrees involves contacting the institutions directly or cross-verifying with trusted official databases to check the authenticity of degrees as well as the accreditation status of issuing institutions.

To sum up, education verification holds immense significance in the employee background screening process. It not only filters out dishonest candidates but also protects employers from future liabilities like legal liabilities, defamation, monetary losses, low employee turnover and repetitive hiring cycles. However, DIY background verifications can be tricky. 

Employers may lack the experience and expertise to identify potential red flags in a candidate’s resume. Therefore, it is always advisable to get help from verification experts who have the required skill set and an eye for detail which is crucial to identify fabricated information. The earlier you identify the discrepancies, the better it is for the well-being of all stakeholders involved. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Protect your hirings from fabricated credentials!

Book a free consultation to see how our education verification solutions can safeguard your hiring process.

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