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Ok, so the title is not how it's suggested, I know the point of having a degree, I obtained two which I worked very hard to get.

The question that I am trying to ask, or, the point that I'm trying to make is that, in the United Kingdom, at every possible avenue where I tried to progress into the industry (I'm a software engineer), they all asked for "Good degree", even at School / Colleges there were no chances of gaining a respectful job without having a degree.

When I came out of University and started applying for these jobs, I put on my C.V. that I had just finished University, and I now have my degree. To which, no one asked for any proof or what my final grades were. They were just interested in what I did as my final year project and my programming ability, it was more like the degree did not matter.

Here's the question: What if someone was to "wing" it, and, claim that they had a degree, just to obtain a job? Is the company likely to ask questions, once the probation period is over? Ok, granted if the person seriously lacked the technical skills or showed no signs of gaining any knowledge (like personal research skills etc..) then it would be obvious. However, for someone who had self taught themselves, and had the technical skills but lacked a degree, which was one of the main points. And if so, what would honestly happen at the company, would they fire this person, even though they have made an impact and brought value to the company?

closed as off-topic by gnat, Vietnhi Phuvan, Jan Doggen, Chris E, yochannah Apr 13 '15 at 10:12

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  • hello, consider editing the question to make it better fit site topics laid out in help center. In particular, this guidance may help to learn what is expected of questions here. Good luck! – gnat Apr 10 '15 at 11:43
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    How the company reacts depends upon what policies it has on its books, how strict they are with respect to lying on a resume and how much leeway they give the management in terms of ability to give the culprit a break. Voting to close because the answer is company policies-specific. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 10 '15 at 12:08
  • They might not ask you for any proof, but there is a strong chance they will call the university in question to make sure you were actually a student there. – David K Apr 10 '15 at 12:16
  • As Terence mentioned in his answer, you didn't get to the reference checking part. Even if the employer doesn't check with the institution he'll likely request some proof of your education. That's usually reserved for recent graduates though other candidates have work experience that can be evaluated (and checked) instead. If a candidate actually created a fake certificate he'd add a forgery charge to what was already fraud. Even ignoring the convoluted phrasing, I don't think this question has much merit on the site. – Lilienthal Apr 10 '15 at 13:46
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I help to hire people straight out of university. There are two things you're missing.

To which, no one asked for any proof or what my final grades were.

No - they would have gone straight to your university and asked them.

Candidates can exaggerate, lie, or misremember - institutions don't. They didn't bother asking you, because they'll do a background check if they want to hire you.

They were just interested in what I did as my final year project and my programming ability, it was more like the degree did not matter.

Yes, that's right. I've seen people with degrees who couldn't program their way out of a wet paper bag. Otherwise, you'd just show up with a degree certificate and be given a job without an interview.

People without degrees get hired all the time - people who lie about their degrees get fired.

  • +1 on this. I've seen many people with great degrees that are useless. I also get a lot of applications from programming teachers that are useless at coding for themselves. Academia ≠ the real world. – Andreas Ahrens Apr 10 '15 at 13:43
  • @AndreasAhrens at the same time I've seen people with ten years experience who can't program out of a wet paper bag either. Degrees and experience tend to be a good starting point to cull applicants to a more manageable size, but honestly there is no sure fire way to know you've got a solid developer without getting to gauge them as a person and seeing real examples of their work. – RualStorge Apr 10 '15 at 17:54
  • Indeed @rualstorge. Avtual code beats any CV. I use each step as a way of sorting out coders until I find the real talent. – Andreas Ahrens Apr 10 '15 at 18:44
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This question is quite speculative. You can't generalize how "the company" would react to discovering this, because every company is lead by humans, and humans are different.

However, discovering that someone lied about their qualifications for years is a revelation which paints their character in a very bad light. It would seriously put the honesty and trustworthiness of the employee into question. In most jurisdictions such a loss of trust would likely be reason enough for immediate termination of the work contract. Depending on jurisdiction it might even fulfill the legal definition of fraud, which might give "the company" legal basis for pressing charges and/or suing for repayment of the wage they paid the employee over the years (look up your local laws and court decisions for details).

Whether or not "the company" would make use of this possibilities depends on:

  1. Do they still trust the employee despite this breach of trust?
  2. Is the employee so important and irreplacable that they can not afford to let them leave?
  3. Can they live with the bad precedent it would set for new hires when they let this slide? When word gets out, people will get the impression that it is apparently ok to lie about your qualifications when applying to "the company". When "the company" can no longer trust the qualifications their candidates claim to have, it will make hiring decisions a lot harder.

"The company" will evaluate these points, and then make a decision about how they want to handle the case.

  • They fraud concern is a VERY real concern indeed. Most companies of any real size have an attorney on call because HR can be a VERY messy thing to deal with and it's just not safe to not have legal representation at arms length these days. That said you could face both civil and criminal charges, and since we're talking damages in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars the penalty could be utterly crippling financially as well as could potentially lead to jail time. (specifics will vary place to place) That said, odds are you'd be terminated with real potential of legal action. – RualStorge Apr 10 '15 at 17:51
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Not having a degree, yet claiming you do is fraud. If you get caught, people might report you and eventually you can get arrested for it.

It's quite a severe crime, don't think too lightly of it.

  • I suppose there might be a jurisdiction somewhere that makes lying to your employer a criminal offense, but in most places it is not considered fraud in the legal/criminal sense. – Kent A. Apr 10 '15 at 12:33
  • @KentAnderson A case can most likely be made in civil court. There's a difference between lying and fraud that would seem to apply in most jurisdictions. – Lilienthal Apr 10 '15 at 13:40
  • @Lilienthal Civil court is not criminal court. You dont get arrested if you lose a civil suit. – Kent A. Apr 10 '15 at 14:09
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    @KentAnderson Agreed, looks like I forgot to edit my comment. I meant to add that you can be prosecuted in criminal court for this kind of fraud, it's just highly unlikely. Exceptions would probably be cases where the consequences were dire such as can happen with someone passing himself off as a structural engineer, lawyer or doctor. – Lilienthal Apr 10 '15 at 17:14
  • @KentAnderson actually in a lot of places openly lying that you have a degree when you don't have one, taking a job based on this false premise knowing you will not be providing what your employer expects, and the employer assuming damages based on that lie typically does qualify as fraud. Now that said, I do agree most likely the out come would simply be termination and a civil suit to recoup losses, unless your REALLY pissed someone off enough that they want to invest the time and money to make a fraud charge stick. – RualStorge Apr 10 '15 at 17:58
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Isn't it better just to tell the truth? If you start fibbing, then you have to always remember which fib you told to whom, and one lie always seems to require more to lies to keep the truth from coming out. It eventually becomes exhausting to maintain your appearances, and you slip up. And doesn't it just stink to have a lie you told years ago come back to sting you out of the blue? Why risk it?

Lying about basic qualifications for a job is usually grounds for dismissal regardless of your contribution to the company. While some companies do not make a formal check about your degree, many do. My second job out of school required copies of my college transcript and diploma on my first day. But that's the only company in my career that ever checked (that I know of).

If you're just wondering about the 'fairness' of someone getting ahead due to a lie they've told, don't get too upset. Be glad you're not them.

If you're wondering why it matters to a company whether you have a degree, when it's the competency in the day to day skills that brings success, understand that many companies place value in having earned a college degree. It's their choice to do so. It may not seem 'fair' to those without degrees, but it's the reality in many companies.

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