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Education Fraud: False perceptions about a widespread problem

In Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink,” the author describes the concept of thin-slicing – a process in which one makes a quick decision based on limited information. Often times, an individual’s personal experiences and opinions are instantly recalled without them even realizing it. This intuition, Gladwell argues, is often very powerful and efficient. However it can also be dangerously problematic; sometimes, one’s thin-slicing is poorly informed by biases and misconceptions.

There seems to be a real disconnect between the public’s perception of resume fraud and the extensive damage that it causes. Specifically, the scope and effect of education fraud is not fully realized in the public’s consciousness; subsequently, employers to not take advantage of the benefits of high-quality background checks and particularly education background screening.

Studies have shown that up to 41% of applicants lie about their educational qualifications while only 50-70% of companies verify these credentials. Additionally, many of these background checks are performed imperfectly by the employer and completed after the hire

It is likely that the public perception of applicant employment fraud is based on stereotypes and generalizations. The perpetrators may be seen as desperate and amateurish; low level employees grasping for an opportunity. Or education falsification may be closely associated with high profile news coverage, like the story of Scott Thompson, the Yahoo CEO who tacked on a non-existent BS in Computer Science to his resume.

Most troubling, the public and employers may consider education fraud an unlikely and distant concern and background screening as an unnecessary luxury. . But the practice is widespread and incredibly damaging. It can lead to a bad hire and severely excessive costs for a small or medium-size business; in turn, its exposure can just as easily destroy consumer confidence in an industry giant. Its effects are vast and indiscriminate and employers’ awareness and actions should reflect that.

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  1. James 03 Jul

    Great article! 40% of businesses fail because of bad hires!
  2. Michel Roy 20 Jul

    The false perception of widespread welfare fraud is given additional credence by it’s other, more high-profile advocates. Not the sleazy tabloids previously discussed, but our own politicians.
  3. Daniel DeYoung 31 Jul

    Great point, Michael. I would say that although it is widely spread by those discussed sources, self-interested politicians give it an undue legitimacy. 
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