How do employers verify the education of potential hires?

I’m an engineer and all places I have worked check. I am all for it. I worked extremely hard to get my engineering degrees and anyone who lies about getting one does not deserve to be employed.

At my current company one guy was about to be hired and wasn’t because he lied about getting his degree. He claimed to have gotten it at a university in Korea in the 1960’s. He’d been lying about it for decades. He never thought anyone would check but we did and he didn’t get the job. The guy has been in his field forever and would have gotten the job had he been honest.

Marilee Jones, formerly dean of admissions at MIT. She claimed to have degrees from Albany Medical College, Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but had no degrees whatsoever.

With a degree, and a dozen or so years of engineering experience I had an employer ask to see my high school diploma when I hired on. Pretty much just luck that I knew where to find it. That should have been a clue, as that place turned out to be soul-sucking shithole of a work environment.

One thing that I wonder about reading the responses above (which obviously refer to US practices):

I can understand trusting someone on the fact of having a degree/a high school diploma etc., but what about the grades? It would have been unthinkable for me, on my applications, in Germany, for a first job after university, not to include my full degree document (with grades on all subjects at university) as well as my full Abitur (secondary school) document (with grades in all subjects in the last years and in the final exam). (we get two documents after secondary and tertiary education - one one-page document saying you passed the degree/the high school exam, which you hardly ever need, and one with all grades, that you need to enclose a copy of with every job application).

Are US employers not interested in grades, and specific subjects taken at school/in a degree program, when screening job applications?

There is an old joke…

What do you call the guy who graduates last in his class in medical school.


This applies only to an engineering career track, with which I am familiar:

First job out of college, and early in a career, US employers typically want to see university transcripts, at least in engineering. You typically supply a “unofficial” copy when you interview, and they request one directly from the school if/when they decide to hire you. When I was interviewing just out of school, I also made up a summary sheet, sorted by subject, rather than by semester…I think that got me a couple of extra offers, as managers could see what they wanted to know at a glance rather than spending a half-hour weeding through the actual transcript.

10 years later work experience becomes much more important. At that point employers typically take your word, or check with the school that you have the degree…not so much interest in transcripts. They typically DO confirm your employment history back 10 years or so.

It may be that it is cheaper and easier to fire a bad employee in the US than in Europe, so the Europeans tend to be more careful about hiring. Certainly it is much less common in the US for an employee to spend a lifetime with one employer…so they aren’t really stuck with them.

Kevbo is correct in my experience.

In the military(Army, USAF, Marines) the answer is “Captain”

Except in jobs where extreme higher math is required (Actual science lab jobs) or engineering…most people accept that college isn’t about anything more than the last few years of reaching maturity.

We assume that a busines degree shows you know the concepts of income, debt, assets and profit. An IT degree means you understand logic. We assume an English degree means you can distinguish good dope from crappy cut stuff.

But a business degree won’t teach you the specific business model your job will require. An IT degree won’t teach you the tools/languages you’re really going to use for your whole career. And an English Degree won’t guarantee you can get a novel published.

Which in turn reminds me of a George Carlin bit : Somewhere in the country there has to be the absolute *worst *doctor in America. And somebody has an appointment with him as I speak.

I’ve experienced about 50/50 in never checking vs xeroxing diplomas. One place (who also xeroxed diplomas) had me send grades from the school.

  1. The majority of employers do not verify education, or if they do, ask only for a copy of a diploma, which of course would be trivially easy to fake. And I’ve seen companies that didn’t verify engineering degrees, too, though checking’s more common there.

  2. However, those that do simply have to call the school. The school will confirm if John Smith graduated with diploma ABC in Year XXXX.

I knew a guy from my alma mater who sent a fake transcript to a prospective employer. (The transcripts were printed on the big laser printer in the computing center, using a known font.) When it appeared that he was going to get caught when the employer tried to verify the transcript, he called them and said that as he was applying for a job with the CIA, it was a matter of national security that they destroy his job application and all related materials.

Later he was writing to a female friend from prison. (Not sure why he was there, but he was colorful, to say the least.)

I was thinking of this very question when I was re-doing my resume and was wondering why most resume guides didn’t have me include phone numbers, addresses or supervisors on previous work experience like most applications. (I ended up putting supervisor/phone number anyway).

How long do universities keep transcripts on file anyway? I figure at some point, after maybe 80 or 90 years they would assume everyone who graduated in a certain year would have passed on (or would probably have no need for a transcript anymore) and would want to clean house. Or do they just keep them indefinitely? Would it be possible to look up somebody’s records who graduated in the 1890s?

I think it depends on the university. I know my alma mater keeps records going back at least 40 years; one of my college/grad school classmates came back after a fairly lengthy hiatus. The uni not only had his transcripts, they had the catalog that had been in effect when he first attended and had to graduate him under the requirements that were in effect in 1971-72, when he first started. The registrar and department chair had a hell of a time finding equivalent substitute courses for ones that had been discontinued years ago.

I do know that there is a registry of graduates going back to the beginning, which is helpful to genealogists. I don’t know that it includes transcripts, however.

If an employer is going to verify education and other information, they will have the applicant sign a waiver saying they understand the checks are going to be made.

I did once verify the high school graduation of someone who severed during WW2…

tschild writes:

> Are US employers not interested in grades, and specific subjects taken at
> school/in a degree program, when screening job applications?

I think it depends a lot on the employer. My experience is that at every level, the institutions that I was applying to wanted to know my grades (and other things), because accepting me was dependent on how well I had done up to that level. The colleges I went to wanted to know my high school grades (and SAT scores and teacher recommendations and various other things) because they had many other applicants. The grad schools I went to wanted to know my college grades (and professor recommendations and various other things) because they had many other applicants. My employer wanted to know my grad school grades (and other things) because they had many other applicants. In each case, I was the one who had to make sure that they got the grades. I had to ask my high school, my colleges, and my grad schools to send a transcript of my grades to the places that I was applying to. I had to sign a form allowing those institutions to see my grades and I had to pay some money for the cost of printing and mailing my transcript. Without my signature, they wouldn’t have been allowed to see my grades.

I think it depends when you graduated. For instance, I graduated in 1984 and they didn’t even use social security numbers back then. We were assigned a number and the last time anyone wanted to check my records was in 1991, and even then I had a hard time getting it 'cause they demanded my number and I couldn’t remember it, so the employer had to call me up and I had to go down to the campus and verify who I was and it was a long process.

Now it’d probably be tied to your social security number. But back then it wasn’t

My degree has nothing to do with my field so in normal times if anyone would ask my for my transcripts, I probably would just tell them to forget it and go to the next job. It’s not worth it.

Now with today’s economy it would be, but I have a degree in physics, and everything I learned in physics is so outdated anyway any job that required my use of physics wouldn’t want me anyway.

I think the older you are the less likely they’d check. And the more your degree has to do with your job the more likely they are to check. I still get applications that demand my grade school on them. Does anyone check that? :slight_smile:

When I was in H/R the only way I’d check an education reference was if they were young just out of college or high school and didn’t have enough work experience, then I’d check that as an alternative to work experience.

But really a college degree is only important for most jobs to get your first job. After that employers want to know what you can do, they don’t care what your GPA was.