As recent college graduates, Millennials compete for the best entry level positions in their degree of study. Add to that the low unemployment rate of 5.1%, the competition for getting hired is tough.

College graduates have a few advantages, including a base understanding of a career field, and Millennials who obtain a certification enter the work world with a specialization. However, when it comes to background screening, your college education or certification must be verifiable.

How verification of your education works

You have paid for your way through college with odd jobs, loans, financial help from your parents, and scholarships, and now it’s time for all that hard work to pay off. Approximately 80% of employers conduct background checks, so your information must be both accurate and legitimate.

  • Verifying education entails both verifying that an educational institution is accredited and contacting the institution to verify your enrollment or graduation.
  • Based on the information you provided on a job application, a background check will verify your dates of attendance, graduation status and date, and course(s) of study.

However, there are some situations in which diplomas, degrees, and certifications cannot be verified. The verifiability of your education can determine whether it will help or hurt your chances of landing the job.

When is my education unverifiable?

There are two common reasons that background screeners may be unable to verify your education:

  • The degree or diploma earned comes from something called a Diploma Mill.
  • You owe money or fees to your institution outside of student loans.

Diploma Mills are illegitimate institutions that may advertise degrees and certificates that you can “earn,” usually through purchase. Diplomas, certificates, and degrees obtained from these organizations are considered illegitimate indicators of education and experience.

Employers are not fooled by diploma mill degrees. A background check company will first verify if an educational institution is accredited. InfoMart maintains a database of known diploma mills to help us quickly verify the legitimacy of an educational institution.

Outstanding student fees can trigger a hold on your records. Educational institutions will tell a background screener that the student has a “hold” on their account, and will not verify your degree or certificate earned until all fees outside of student loans are paid.

Don’t assume your school won’t notice the library book you still haven’t returned or the outstanding dues against your diploma. They notice and may refuse to disseminate your records until you have paid off your student account.

It can be a hard lesson to not get your dream job merely because you haven’t paid your book dues or graduation fees. The solution seems easy: just pay the fees and your education is verifiable. However, it will be too late for that first employer who runs a background check.

How to avoid losing out on your first dream job

Employers need positions filled quickly, and if your information isn’t verifiable they will move on to the next qualified applicant. The following steps will help you avoid the disappointment and embarrassment of an unverifiable education.

  • Ensure your educational institution is legitimately accredited before wasting your time and money on a fake credential.
  • Fees may seem minimal considering all you’ve paid to get your education, but they can impact your future job prospects. You may have earned a BA, but if you owe the school money, they might not verify your degree, your graduation status, or your dates of attendance.
  • Call ahead and verify your own education making sure you don’t have a hold on your account that keeps the institution from releasing your records, and pay quickly if you do. Depending on the efficiency of the educational institution, it may take time to update your financial records and remove holds.

For more information on what all goes into a pre-employment background check, see our blog, “What is pre-employment screening?”

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