With unemployment numbers hitting historic lows in recent years many recruiters and hiring managers have found themselves wondering if they can afford to verify education credentials anymore. The recruiter or HR manager may thing “after all it took a long time to find this most recent candidate and the company cannot afford to go without someone in this position for another 6 months – 1 year.” The rest of the candidate’s background check came back clean, so surely the education credentials are correct? Probably, but not always and it is the people you least expect to pull such tricks with their resume who end up doing it. So to settle the question once and for all, should you verify education credentials for new hires?

The long story short is “yes” and the “yes” gets stronger the higher up in the organization the open position is. The reasons for “why” are many, beginning with the huge embarrassment that occurs if a single phony slips by. Sure it is embarrassing for the candidate/person as well, but the embarrassment has been shown to stick to the corresponding company that hired the candidate longer than the candidate/person themselves. There is little such companies can do in response after the fact, except for some situations like where the position being filled legally required certain qualifications.

Next, unfortunately the prevalence of such trickery is not on the decline but on the rise. Each person is different so their reason(s) for supplying fake education credentials will vary, but many reported reasons are that obtaining the true education credentials would be too costly as tuition rates soar. For others the temptation of previously non-existent “diploma mills” promise a fast-track to earning much more money with this fancy degree when all clients have to do is pay a small (by comparison) fee. These “diploma mills” do not provide any real coursework however and sneakily use names similar to real universities to further conceal their efforts.

The best method for verifying educational degrees is to have multiple layers of checking. HR representative(s) can and should do an initial scan to look for red flags such as out of sequence degrees, degrees from overseas, and degrees that show a short amount of attendance time (such as less than 2 years). There are also multiple professional clearinghouses that can properly vet education credentials and work with the government to identify and be on the lookout for “diploma mills.”