Understanding the perspective of an employer can help you as a job seeker to align your value with an employer’s needs. Most employers use job postings to describe the specific skills and attributes they seek. To stand out from other applicants, think beyond what is posted to anticipate the employer’s needs. If you are an internationally educated professional, you may need to submit a credential evaluation with your job application to demonstrate your 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; this information is usually relayed in a cover letter and résumé.
Many employers require that applications be submitted via the company website, and 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?” and “If yes, please upload a copy of your credential evaluation report.” By asking for a credential evaluation, employers can better understand your suitability for the role.
A human resources department, hiring manager, or third-party organization contracted by the employer will carefully review applications to ensure that candidates meet the role’s specific requirements. Employers will view your application as part of the screening process, and flag the applicants that most closely meet the qualifications. For example, if an employer asks for a credential evaluation but one is not submitted, or the level of education is not suitable for the position, applicants may 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 required as stated and not just assets will provide insight into whether you qualify for the role and help define your next steps in verifying your information. 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 include verifying a candidate’s experience through reference checks, confirming that there is no criminal history through a criminal record check, and understanding an applicant’s credit history through a credit report. Education is usually verified by asking for official transcripts, a copy of a diploma or degree, and, in the case of internationally educated professionals, a credential evaluation.
Employers and third-party organizations that conduct background checks on internationally educated job candidates often use WES credential evaluations to verify candidates’ international education and Canadian equivalencies. 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—such as those involved in working on infrastructure that could affect the public, at a financial institution in a sensitive position, or in an occupation where the health and safety of the public are the primary concerns—background checks may be necessary.
As stated above, employers also use credential evaluations to better understand how applicants’ international education may determine the position they are qualified for. Without a credential evaluation, it can be challenging for hiring managers to assess an internationally educated candidate’s level of education, specialization areas, and program curriculum.
For example, if you are a post-secondary instructor, a credential evaluation will help the school determine what subjects you are qualified to teach and at what level and salary.
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.