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I recently accepted a fairly senior job offer and am in the background check process. I uploaded my resume and completed the first advantage profile. I included my educational details for Bachelors and Master and they are accurate.

On my resume I list a professional certification. This certification is not a requirement of the job but relevant to my field. I listed the date period of 2008 - 2013 to represent when I started the program, culminating in my achievement of the certification in 2013. The credential is now expired (expired 2016), but I do not use the letters next to my name or represent on my resume that it is active. I also do not note it is current, nor expired.

I am concerned that this may be indicated as a discrepancy or falsification of some sort. I believe it is explainable as to my logic on dates (years of study and achievement), and the certification itself is verifiable, but am very worried about whether this will be viewed as a misrepresentation of whether my credential is active. I was not trying to falsify or over-represent my skills. I did obtain that credential and am proud of the work that went into it.

Any thoughts on this issue, how can I address this situation? Am I overthinking this? If it wasn’t on my First Advantage profile will it even be checked?

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    So you studied for 6 years for a certification that lasted 3?
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 27, 2023 at 22:02
  • Is it possible for you to re-certificate? Does it imply another 6 years of studies?
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 27, 2023 at 22:02
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    Hi - the studying also required at least 3 years of work experience. I was new to this field and had to learn it. So that is why I added the timeframe like that. I could re-certificate, but it would take at least a year, if not more.
    – user140881
    Jul 27, 2023 at 23:20
  • Can you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by "started the program", with respect to this certification? I've never seen a certificate take that long. I typically don't include preparation time (including earning required work experience) in dates for a certification. When I list certifications, I list the date I earned the certification (which is usually earned with a test, or perhaps a course+test, but sometimes just a course - any other preparation is on my own time) and the expiration of the certification (if there is one). Jul 27, 2023 at 23:37

3 Answers 3

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The credential is now expired (expired 2016), but I do not use the letters next to my name or represent on my resume that it is active. I also do not note it is current, nor expired.

When writing resumes, it is best to be completely clear and unambiguous, avoiding any possible room for misinterpretation or confusion.

With this in mind, I strongly recommend that you start being explicit on the fact that such certification is now expired, as to avoid any possible chance of it being taken as a dishonest move.

I am a bit shocked that a certification that took you 6 years to get only lasts for 3 years (6 years is the length of a University Degree as far as I know!). Under that light I understand why you want to list it even though it is now expired.

If you decide to continue listing it be sure to mention it is now expired. Also, consider not putting it as the most prominent feature on your CV (perhaps on "related skills" or similar). A phrasing I may suggest to mention such certification but without the ambiguity of it's expiration would be:

Successfully coursed the 6-year FooBar Certification Program [2008-2013]. Official Certification obtained (valid 2013-2016).

This way you explicitly say that the certification is currently expired, but that it entailed 6 years of studies and preparations and knowledge that is still with you.

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I'd consider your representation of your certification very misleading and it may result in questions being asked, depending on if the company looks into it or not. Because it's not required for this particular job, they may not look into it in detail, but you may want to investigate how certifications are typically presented in your industry.

In the software and technology industry where I work, certifications are usually identified with the date that they are earned and an indication that they are still valid or the expiration date. For your example, since you earned the certificate in 2013 and it expired in 2016, I would expect it to say "2013 - 2016". It's not typical to include preparation time in the date of a certification, especially if that preparation time is used to meet any prerequisites such as having relevant work experience. For valid certifications, I would expect it to say "2013 - Present". For certifications that have lapsed but you reearned them, I would expect "2013 - 2016, 2021 - Present". And for certifications that don't expire, I would only expect the start date of "2013". By providing the name of the certification, the certification body, and any identifiers needed to look you up in the database, a company would be able to confirm any of these.

At this point, it's hard to say what the next steps would be with respect to this job. Since it seems like you didn't lie or aim to purposefully mislead and you have a good and clear explanation for your intentions on your CV, I wouldn't expect it to cause serious issues. The likely worst case scenario seems to be that someone looks you up in the certificate database, the dates don't match, and they reach out to you for clarification. Going forward, though, I would recommend seeing what how people in your industry typically represent expired or lapsed certifications and revising how you present it in your CV to align with any conventions.

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The fact that the certification is expired doesn't invalidate the fact that you earned it. I list my expired certifications on my resume, because I earned them. I also list the validity period.

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