This will be long, sorry.

I really didn't mean to lie to anyone.

Back in 1994 I attended a for-profit technical school. I completed a CERTIFICATE computer programming course. Upon completion, I was offered and accepted a job as a teacher for the same school. I worked nights teaching while completing the rest of the course offerings to get my associates (keep in mind this was back in the 90's). This was one of those accelerated courses that you worked at your own pace. I basically completed the 12 month programming course in 8 months. Completing the "Technical Associates" degree was a requirement for my employment after I was hired so I could effectively teach. So, as a student, I received a certificate, and as an employee, I received my "Technical Associate Degree". As a student, I have an actual CERT for programming. As an employee, I never did but ASSUME it went into my employee file.

Fast forward till now. I am ready to start employment with a major company that has to preform a background. My resume has "Associate of Computer Science" as my education which is technically correct. My "official" degree as a "student" is just a certificate however. I filled out the background form as having ONLY a CERT but that doesn't jive with my resume. I didn't want to embellish anything so was completely truthful there but again, it doesn't jive with what I have on my resume. I tried to explain this during the verbal interviews and all seemed ok with the hiring manager.

Caveat: The school has been out of business for years now (remember, this was back when for-profit schools were somewhat legit). They have been sold off about 4 times but was actually able to contact the new owners today to verify my dates of attendance (as a student).

So... my resume says "Associates Degree" (which is legit but not necessarily verifiable - unless they can really dig up employment records) while my record says "CERTIFICATE". I can only assume that the background check is going to come back bad but have no idea what to do about it.

Can anyone help? Really sucks that I might have a problem after 20 years.


  • 4
    as an employee, I received my "Technical Associate Degree" - if you "received" this degree, couldn't you make a copy of this and present it to them? – Brandin Mar 3 '16 at 7:21
  • 1
    It's striking that you seem afraid of your employer/boss even before starting a new job. And you seem to try to solve their problems. Is the large company some kind of mafia holding your family hostage, or what? Usually in such situations the employer has all the reasons to be more stressed than you. – kubanczyk Mar 3 '16 at 10:35
  • I'm having trouble following... did the institution award you a "technical associates" degree, or as a member of the teaching staff was your title "technical associate"? If you have a diploma/degree/other piece of paper showing that you were awarded a "technical associate" degree, were you not considered an enrolled student when earning that degree? – spuck Apr 29 '19 at 17:08

Let it fall where it may, you haven't lied. It's unlikely a background check would dig anything up that you can't dig up. And it's all 20+ years in the past.

It's no use stressing over it at this point. Just explain if you're asked and produce whatever documentation you have when it's needed. Many things have changed drastically in twenty years, employers know this as well as anyone else if not more.

As an employer I couldn't really care less what a candidate was up to twenty years ago, in terms of the industry it's barely relevant anymore, and in terms of personality etc,. they're no longer that same person.

  • Thank Kiilsi. I'm just concerned that this will appear to be a lie on my part but I really didn't know how else to answer the online form. This is a fortune 500 employer and I get the sense that any discrepency will kill my job. Did I at least answer the question properly in your opinion? Will they even give me a chance to explain or will they just look at this as a character flaw? I'm 47 years old and am pissed I'm sweating something like this at my age. Thanks again. – HonestReally Mar 3 '16 at 3:04
  • 2
    I have no idea on the particular reaction you'll get from the individual company, but your explanation would be good enough for me if I even bothered asking. Really I'm only interested in a persons last 5 or perhaps 10 years. And I don't see how you could have put it differently. I lost all my papers in a tsunami some of which I couldn't replace. I just explained that when asked. And there's nothing you can do about it now, so don't stress. – Kilisi Mar 3 '16 at 3:26

If you have copies of the certificates, it helps.

Most publicly accredited programs back then were 15 years behind the times. I looked at some programs coming out of school and laughed at the curriculum. (I ended up getting my degree in another area.)

Private schools were the only ones teaching anything current. Thankfully public unis seem to have caught up, now.

Anyone with any gray in their hair will remember how bad public uni computer programs were back then. I don't think you have much to worry about.

  • Thanks Wesley. I actually emailed the HR director today about this. I have no copies of anything but was able to verify my enrollment dates (to fill out the background check form). She told me they DO check for degree accuracy (again, my resume says I have an Associates but my REAL file will probably only come up with a CERT). I have to assume there isn't much "interpretation" in the results because we all know people only look at spreadsheets for data these days. – HonestReally Mar 3 '16 at 3:13
  • @HonestReally Did to explain the situation about the qualification name? Surely if you have raised it (and not tried to make out you have something you don't, you simply called it by the name as it was back then), then you you have nothing to worry about...? – Jane S Mar 3 '16 at 4:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .