Will Gorbachev's legacy hurt my friend?
June 9, 2006 4:07 AM   Subscribe

A friend with an old degree from a university in Ukraine is undergoing a background check related to a great job offer. Due to the breakdown of the Soviet Union and the fact that her alma mater has undergone multiple name changes over the years, she wonders how/if anyone could actually confirm her degree.

She gave them copies of her diploma and a link to the university's current web site. Assuming her new employer is using a third party for the background check, what will happen if they just can't confirm her degree? Will they at least call her and ask for more information? The degree is totally legit and she has tons of experience in her area of endeavor. The salary figure has already been negotiated. This is her last hurdle.
posted by loosemouth to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the way background checks usually work is they're looking for things that disprove something she says (or looking for things she hasn't told them) -- not for proof of everything she says. If they don't find something that contradicts her claim that she's got a degree, I'd expect she'll be fine.
posted by winston at 4:35 AM on June 9, 2006

If they call the Registrar's office or equivalent, I'm sure they will be told the university's past name. The name of the university may have changed, but I suspect very little of the rest of it-- including the administrative personnel-- has. (I would strongly suspect that they still have the records from her time, too.) I presume that on her resume she wrote it as something like "Kiev State University (now Taras Shevchenko University)"? Either way, I would not overthink this. Making up a degree from a fake university is so weird and brazen that they're far more likely to say "Huh" and try to figure out what's going on, which will really not be hard. It would probably even show up on Google somewhere.
posted by posadnitsa at 5:23 AM on June 9, 2006

i'm with winston. if they have gotten far enough to extend an offer with a background contingency, then they are looking for reasons to not hire her. having trouble tracking down a foreign degree wouldn't be one of them--unless she wasn't from the ukraine in the first place.
posted by lester at 6:49 AM on June 9, 2006

In my experience, requests of this nature only get responses 10% of the time. A Russian university registrar may not speak enough English to respond to a query, or may not care to respond to someone out of the country. Many European universities archive or destroy older records, so verification might not be possible even if they're willing to help. If your friend still knows anyone connected with the university, asking them to intercede can produce results.

If she gets no response, and the HR folks are insistant about getting this information, her best bet would be to get her credentials evaluated by a US-based agency. Google for 'foreign degree evaluation.' A good one will be a member of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO), and can perform the service for about $50.00 or so.

Human Resources offices are usually aware of the difficulties involved in verifying credentials from other countries, so, like others have said, this probably won't be a deal breaker. If her other information checks out, and she's been doing the work expected of someone with her training, that will often be enough to consider her for the position.

(Background investigation is part of my job)
posted by zedediah at 7:27 AM on June 9, 2006

If it comes down to it, she could always provide human resources with english-speaking references who could corroborate her time spent there. She should easily be able to look up old professors who may be able to help her there.
posted by JJ86 at 7:42 AM on June 9, 2006

Maybe if you provided the university, we could be of more help.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 2:15 PM on June 9, 2006

Response by poster: Resolution: The very day I posted this question, my friend was told she had passed the background check and that the job was definitely hers. The company HR representative told her that the diploma copy and the link to the current website had definitely helped complete the background check. My friend had been given the expectation that the background check would take up to 6 weeks and the actual time was less than 3 weeks. Thanks for all the inpu.
posted by loosemouth at 1:24 PM on June 10, 2006

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