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Workforce Management

How do Employers Verify Education?

One Minute Takeaway

  • Educational background checks verify potential employees’ academic experience
  • Using a third party can make it easy to conduct these checks
  • Adding educational verification checks ensures you have a complete pre-employment screening process

In a competitive job market with specific educational requirements for jobs, it’s tempting for applicants to make false claims. In fact, at least 80% of applicants admitted to lying (or considering a lie) during the interview process (HireRight). Education is one of the most falsified claims, with some studies showing 30% of applications containing erroneous education information. We’ve all probably wondered about it, too, especially when the resume is perfect for the position, is this person too good to be true? Well, you don’t always have to wonder. If you’re not already doing it, incorporating a process for verifying education is a great way to confirm education claims. 

Why do employers need to verify education?

Even employers who conduct background checks should also determine if a potential hire has the education they claim to have in their application and the training necessary to perform the job. Earning an advanced degree shows that a person has the ability to persevere and accomplish a goal. And, during the education verification process, you can determine the nature of the degree claimed. Some “universities” are diploma mills, granting degrees with little or no effort. A background check can help determine if a degree is legitimate from an accredited university. Consider also that this practice can help you eliminate dishonest candidates, who clearly would become a problem as an employee. Education verification doesn’t have to be limited by institutions, it can also be used for verifying any licenses or certifications.

How to verify education

Often the easiest way to verify an employee’s education is to ask the applicant for an official transcript from their college or university. Another option is to use a third-party verification service to conduct an educational background check. To do this, have the prospective employee provide the following:

  • Their full name, including maiden name or aliases used during college
  • The name and address of the degree-granting institution
  • The dates attended (month and year should be sufficient, e.g.: 08/2005–05/2009)
  • The title and educational field of their degree
  • A signed authorization release from the applicant

Once this information is collected, a third-party service can verify education, often using the Student Clearinghouse or checking with the institution’s registrar. One of the benefits of using a third-party service is that many providers can integrate with your applicant tracking service to help you keep all applicant materials in one spot.

If you don’t use a verification service, it is possible for an HR team member to conduct education verification manually. This DIY approach would include contacting the university’s registrar, providing details on the prospective employee, and asking for verification.

Alternately, company representatives can contact the National Student Clearinghouse and submit a verification request. There is a processing fee for these requests. Verifying high-school graduation can be trickier, especially if the applicant has a GED certification. In these cases, you will need to write the department of education in the state the person obtained the GED to verify that credential.

Keep in mind that you can run into some issues when conducting the education verification process in-house. Often, incorrect information could make it difficult to find the former student’s record. In addition, some universities require students to request transcripts and will not release them to third parties. Also, some older records may not be accessible electronically, which may delay verification. It’s important to note, too, that if you start verifying education for new employees, it’s important to conduct this check for every employee to avoid potential discrimination claims. Generally, employees who are already on staff can be grandfathered in and would not need to have education verified.

Regardless of how you approach education verification, it’s important to add in time for this step in the recruiting process. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least three business days to conduct education verification, and potentially more time if you’re not using a third party. Generally, colleges and universities can turn around requests more quickly than high schools or trade schools. Keep in mind that during certain times of the year, school offices may be closed or have reduced working hours.

Verifying education is a great way to quickly vet potential employees. It can help ensure you get the right person for the job and reduce the chance of hiring someone who is dishonest. These checks ensure you will have a thorough, fair system to screen future employees.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor creates HR software for leaders who want to make a difference. Our Human Capital Management (HCM) platform modernizes every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop people, to the way you pay and retain them. But what really sets us apart is our focus on business leaders. For 30 years, we’ve been listening to and partnering with leaders, so we know what they need: HR technology that saves time, powerful analytics that provide actionable insights and dedicated support from HR experts. That’s why more than 40,000 businesses trust Paycor to help them solve problems and achieve their goals.