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Do Employers Check Education on Resumes?

I mean, who’s really looking, right?

Coffee table with laptop
Image courtesy of Windows

The short answer is yes, many employers do check the education listed on your resume. Not all employers will follow up to confirm this part of your background, but you should behave as if they will. 

Why do employers check education on your resume?

Many just want to be sure you are who you say you are—they’re confirming what school you went to, whether you earned a degree, and the dates you attended.

Some will need to check your education for legal reasons. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a nurse, your employer needs to be certain you actually went to nursing school and graduated. And if you’re applying to work in the public sector, you can be sure that they will verify your education. 

Sometimes an education check involves checking licenses and certifications. If you’re a real estate agent, for example, an employer may confirm that you’re licensed in your state. 

Other times still, employers are confirming that you didn’t get your degree from a “diploma mill,” or a phony institution where degrees and transcripts can be purchased without putting in any work. 

When do employers verify education?

“Typically, this will be done post-offer, pre-start, and will be a condition of the offer, along with other items that may exist, like a drug screen, proof of eligibility to work in the United States, references, etc.,” human resources consultant Michael Trust says. 

Though it’s far less common, some employers may verify your education years down the road. Let’s say you’re struggling with your work and your employer says it’s time to put you on a performance improvement plan. To cover their bases, they may verify the education listed on your resume in case they didn’t during the hiring process. 

Read more: How to List Work History on Your Resume

How do employers verify education?

Trust tells InHerSight this: “Typically, the recruiter or person handling the hire will contact the school directly. However, many schools use a clearinghouse, and they can be contacted, and for a fee, provide the information. A background check company, with proper authorization from the candidate, can also check this, as a part of or separate from, a background check.”

The consequences of lying on your resume

It’s thought that upwards of 85 percent of candidates lie on their resume, but you shouldn’t be one of them. 

“If the education cannot be confirmed, the candidate is given a chance, within the legal timeframes, to respond as to what the problem may be,” Trust says. “If the education cannot be confirmed, the job offer will usually be pulled. If the candidate completed a job application, and that application said that it was truthful, then in almost all cases, the employer will pull the offer, because the candidate had already lied, and they haven’t even started.”

Don’t ever lie on your resume. The best case scenario is that you won’t get the job or the employer will rescind the offer they already extended; the worst case scenario is that you permanently damage your reputation and have a hard time getting a job at all.

If you lie about where you went to school, the degree you earned, or what certifications you hold, and they don’t verify your education, you can still put your job in jeopardy. If your employer finds out later, most won’t hesitate you terminate your employment

Don’t even fudge the details of your education on your resume. Were you one credit short of that double major? Don’t list two degrees. Did you take a lot of classes in literature but didn’t technically earn that minor? Don’t list it. “White lies” are no good when it comes to representing yourself in the workplace—those can cost you the job too, even after you’re hired.

Read more: Does College Count as Job Experience?

About our source

Michael Trust is principal of Michael Trust Consulting, an HR consulting firm based in California. Trust has vast experience in all aspects of human resources in such industries as entertainment, banking, local government, higher education, health care, nonprofits, and renewable energy. He helps his clients hire the best talent, keeps them in compliance, and helps them optimize their ROI on people for the best business and employee results.

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