Background checks not only take into account an applicant's history in governmental records and criminal databases, but verify claims applicants make on resumes. A growing number of cases have been reported where candidates lie about their education histories, either claiming to have a degree when no such diploma was awarded, or touting a certificate earned from a disreputable institution like a diploma mill.
However, despite the increasing frequency with which these instances are occurring, many employers are being short-sighted by not conducting background checks that fully incorporate an applicant's educational history into the screening process. Such was the case for a high-profile university as an employee in a position of significant influence was caught with a falsified degree on her resume, a discrepancy that the school's inadequate background check did not catch.
Director of Social Media resigns over fiasco
The incident involved University of Michigan and Jordan Miller, its now former director of social media. According to Michigan Daily, Miller claimed to have earned a degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago on her resume. However, it was not a background check that caught the discrepancy in educational history, but a jilted ex-husband who outed the resume lie via social media.
A user on the University of Michigan's Reddit page - a popular social media internet forum - posted a set of documents on the site that compared the claims on Miller's resume and the actual transcript from Columbia.
The user said: “Having been royally screwed over by this woman’s lies myself, I decided to file a FOIA request with U of M to obtain these documents."
Turns out, Miller did not earn a degree from Columbia, but was only enrolled in the college. Michigan Daily also checked with a records specialist at Columbia, who also verified Miller had attended the school, yet did not complete the required coursework to earn her degree.
University didn't have "any reason to believe" director would lie on resume
The University of Michigan put itself in a tight spot because of the resume scandal by not completing a comprehensive background check on Miller. The University of Michigan admitted it did not take such action because it felt it had no need to.
"We certainly never had any reason to not believe her resume," said Rick Fitzgerald, University of Michigan spokesman, in a statement.
Employers that trust employees implicitly on any point involving their background or educational history, no matter how trustworthy and well-intentioned that employee is, put themselves in a corner if and when the truth does come out. Using our complete and paperless background screening services to verify applicant claims will keep employers in the know and within the boundaries of the law.
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