GUEST POST: Why Hiring Managers Must Verify College Degrees

guestblogger.jpgToday we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It’s Samantha Gray. Samantha is a freelance writer/researcher for Her articles cover issues related both to online and traditional education, as well as student lifestyle, careers and business. Please send any questions or comments her way at

(Want to guest blog at The Employer Handbook? Email me.)

Any person in charge of hiring and firing will tell you that their work is anything but easy. It’s a high-stress, high-workload, high-risk job that requires a lot of patience, knowledge and practice. Naturally, not everyone is cut out to be a hiring manager, and there are many out there who (for lack of better words) are just not good at what they do.

Like all workers who have become complacent in their jobs, some begin to take shortcuts in the hiring process. One of the most common shortcuts taken by hiring managers is to not verify an applicant’s college degree claim. This happens more than we would like to believe, and the consequences are greater than one could ever know.

Verifying a college degree is not only the right thing to do, it is the foundation for a successful business. Below are three more reasons why hiring managers must check an applicant’s educational background.

  1. Experience doesn’t always trump education: Some hiring managers like to believe that if an applicant can verify their previous work experience, it isn’t necessary to verify a college degree. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are several stories of top executives who have worked their way up the ladder by lying about their education. The most recent story involved former Yahoo! CEO, Scott Thompson, who told the company he had a degree in computer science, but he didn’t.

    The greatest problem with accepting experience over education is that, if it is a position that requires a special skill set, knowledge or professional license, formal education is the only thing that provides that foundation. For example, you wouldn’t want to hire a doctor who can prove that they spent a year abroad with a non-profit group treating war refugees without first verifying their degree and medical license. Their experience may be true and captivating, but it doesn’t undermine the importance of formal education.

  2. It saves the company money, in the long run: If you hire someone who lies about their education, one of two things will happen. Either their lack of education will hinder their ability to succeed at the job, or their lie will be discovered. The consequence of both these things is that the employee will be fired. This will cause turnover problems and hurt the company’s reputation, which cost the business money.
  3. It’s your job: If you are in charge of hiring and firing, you are in charge of verifying every part of an interviewee’s resume. This means that you need to call every former employer and every alma mater to check experience and education. In addition, you should conduct a criminal background check and follow all other hiring policies set by your company. You do this because it is the best way to ensure employment of the brightest and most-prepared people, and because it is part of your job description. When you hire someone without verifying their whole background, you are failing at your job and could be setting yourself up to lose your job. Don’t let that happen.

Verifying a person’s educational background is not just important for positions that require degrees, it is also important for setting up a hiring standard. When employers are consistent with educational background checks, they are sending a message to job seekers that they are serious about only hiring well-education, honest people.