The educational item most frequently falsified by applicants was the completion of high school, according to research conducted by Cleveland-based employeescreenIQ’s quality service division. A study that should put risk managers on their guard reports that a check of job candidates’ employment applications finds that 10 percent of them lie about their education credentials. And the firm that made the discovery, employeescreenIQ, predicts that job applicant efforts to puff up backgrounds will only increase as the job market becomes more difficult.
A study that should put risk managers on their guard reports that a check of job candidates’ employment applications finds that 10 percent of them lie about their education credentials.
And the firm that made the discovery, employeescreenIQ, predicts that job applicant efforts to puff up backgrounds will only increase as the job market becomes more difficult.
“False information about ones’ educational history is the third most common discrepancy we uncover while conducting verifications for our clients,” Kevin Bachman, employeescreenIQ’s vice president of Quality Service, said in a statement.
“As we released in our 2009 background screening trends, due to the tightening of the job market, we are predicting a rise in the number of individuals that ‘fluff’ their resume, including their educational history.”
Mr. Bachman continued that facts show that “if it wasn’t for proper screening, for every 10 people a company hired, one would have obtained employment while lying about their education, a very important aspect in most jobs.”
His firm’s research found that:
• High school diplomas were falsified more often than a college degree.
• Degrees falsified the least were post-graduate and doctoral degrees.
• Applicants’ false diploma or degree claims more often involved an institution they had attended.
Steven Rothberg, president ofCollegeRecruiter.com, an information source for college students and recent graduates seeking employment, continuing education and business opportunities, noted, “employeescreenIQ’s findings are in line with insight we receive from our employer clients.”
He said, “When it pertains to education, job candidates are more likely to inflate their academic experience than to outright lie. Few will claim they graduated from a school they didn't attend, or state they have a business degree when they actually graduated with a major in communications.”
He added, however, that given the reluctance of many, and perhaps most schools, to delve into details about the academic qualifications of their alumni, “these exaggerations can be very, very difficult for most employers to identify.”
In addition to education verifications, he said, hiring professionals should make sure their screening company has the ability to conduct professional reference interviews and license verifications—three elements that play key roles in exposing applicants attempting to falsify their education credentials.
Far beyond just inflating academic experiences, another concern is “diploma mills,” which provide individuals with diplomas and degrees without requiring that any standards be met.
Diploma mills operate to make a profit by distributing non-accredited academic degrees to individuals based on a level of payment and life experiences. People obtaining these degrees can then falsely claim them on their resumes.
“You see it in the news, diploma mill operations being closed by federal and state investigations. Diploma mills should be a concern to all employers,” said Jason Morris, employeescreenIQ president and chief operating officer.
He noted that ramifications associated with hiring an individual with a false degree can be very damaging to an organization and result in a loss of trust, “and depending on the job, harm to individuals.”
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission published a helpful online tool—Avoid Fake-Degree Burns By Researching Academic Credentials —for employers to consult in order to recognize fake degrees when conducting education verifications. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation also publish lists of legitimate institutions.
A white paper list containing hundreds of known fraudulent diploma mills that employeescreenIQ has identified through its education verifications searches can be downloaded at www.employeescreen.com.