One of the most important job search skills is understanding the perspective of an employer. Most employers use job postings to describe the specific skills and attributes they seek. However, if you want to stand out from other applicants, you should think past the job ad.
Additionally, if you are an internationally educated professional, you may need to submit a credential evaluation with your job application. This will help you quickly verify your overseas education and qualifications.
In a recent article on how to market your international education to employers, we described the steps involved in advertising your international education, and why it is important for employers to understand your education before they can hire you. By learning how and why employers use credential evaluations, you can better meet their needs as a candidate.
The Screening Process
Employers typically describe the key requirements of—and qualifications for—an open position through a job posting. To appeal to employers, job applicants need to demonstrate how they meet a role’s specific criteria and qualifications; you will typically share this information through your cover letter and résumé.
Many employers require that applications be submitted via the company website. They may include additional screening questions such as, “Are you educated outside of Canada?” This query may prompt others, such as, “Have you had your credentials evaluated?” If you check “yes,” they will then ask you to upload a copy of your credential evaluation report.
A human resources department, hiring manager, or third-party organization contracted by the employer will carefully review all incoming applications. They will ensure that candidates meet the role’s specific requirements. Then, employers will consider the applicants that most closely meet the qualifications. For example, if you fail to provide your credential evaluation, or if it shows that your level of education is not suitable for the position, you will not move on to the next round.
Meeting the Requirements of the Role
Meeting a role’s minimum requirements is, for most employers, standard protocol and is sometimes even essential for public safety and quality assurance purposes. For example, the Toronto Transit Commission, one of the City of Toronto’s largest employers, requires applicants for transit operator positions to have a minimum education level of grade 12. For applicants educated outside of Canada, it accepts equivalency documents from three of the six credential evaluation organizations in Canada, including World Education Services. Internationally educated candidates cannot move forward from the first round of screening without an evaluation that documents the Canadian equivalency of their education. Requiring this step helps to verify that applicants meet the minimum requirements of the role.
Similarly, in some major financial institutions in Canada, particularly in higher level roles and in positions that require a security clearance, requirements can be strict. Candidates must provide evidence that they meet the specific criteria in the job posting. If not, the employer does not move forward with their application.
Understanding whether the skills and qualifications in a job posting are necessary (and not just assets) will provide insight, as well. This will help you determine whether you truly qualify for the role and will help you explain your candidacy. Required qualifications are must-haves for a position; qualifications advertised as assets are not. Make sure you know the difference and can meet at least the minimum qualifications before you move forward with your application.
Depending on the position offered and the employer’s business needs, some employers conduct background checks.
A background check can be used to:
- Verify a candidate’s experience (through reference checks)
- Confirm that there is no criminal history (through a criminal record check)
- Understand an applicant’s credit history (through a credit report)
But a background check does not verify your education. To do this, an employer might ask a job candidate for official transcripts, a copy of their diploma or degree, or a credential evaluation.
WES credential evaluations verify a candidate’s international education by demonstrating its equivalency in Canada. One employer we spoke to uses credential evaluations to verify the accuracy of claims made on employment applications. Another uses credential evaluations to determine a new hire’s level of employment and salary. As stated by a human resources representative we work with, “We leave it up to the experts to determine the Canadian equivalency and whether the credentials are from a recognized, accredited institution.”
Not all employers conduct background checks. However, when the risks of a position are great, background checks may be necessary. Examples of high-risk jobs include those involving finance, infrastructure, or the health and safety of the public.
As stated above, employers also use credential evaluations to better understand an applicant’s international education. Without a credential evaluation, it can be challenging for hiring managers to assess your level of education and specializations.
For example, if you are a teacher, a credential evaluation can help a school determine what subjects you are qualified to teach. The school can also determine what level you should teach and what salary you qualify for, based on past experience.
Although having a credential evaluation is advantageous, it is up to you as a job candidate to highlight your skills, experiences, and qualifications that are most appropriate to the position. A credential evaluation helps employers understand your education, assess whether you qualify for the role, and ultimately decide if they want to hire you.
Your Next Steps
Continue to do industry research, and connect with employers to learn more about their business needs. Informational interviews are a great way to gain insight into your field, understand job requirements, and more accurately target your applications to increase your chances of getting a job offer. Learn your field’s requirements and the qualifications for your desired role. Then decide whether or not a credential evaluation will help you on your path to employment. Most likely, that answer will be yes.