Improved Employment Screening Will Make Candidates Happier in 2018

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 6, 2018
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​This is the second article in a two-part series. The first installment detailed why employers need to focus on compliance in the wake of increased class-action litigation and the trend of screening the growing contingent workforce.

Employers that do pre-employment background checks are feeling the pressure to improve the applicant screening experience and provide better security for candidate data, according to experts.

Using screening technology that integrates well with HR systems and requires less effort from candidates will be a key step toward improving the user experience.

"Integrations have been an emerging trend for some time now as they streamline the hiring process, eliminate the need for duplicate data entry and reduce turnaround time," said Clare Hart, CEO of global screening firm Sterling Talent Solutions, based in New York City. "I think the shift that you'll see in the coming years is not just the ability to integrate, but rather the functionality of the integration and customization capabilities, with differentiators including workflow options, mobile capabilities, results-processing rules, built-in compliance tools and enhancements to the candidate experience."

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Conducting Background Investigations]

An integrated system can automatically pull a candidate's information from LinkedIn or an application directly onto the employer's screening form, said HireRight's head of HR Dawn Hirsch, reducing turnaround time and data entry errors. A direct integration into the company's ATS also allows recruiters the luxury of never having to leave their system to trigger the background screen and review the results, as the candidate data flows directly to the screening vendor and back, and the results are stored in the candidate's file in the ATS.

Employers will continue to have to adjust hiring processes to suit mobile technology. "We are seeing that more and more of the workforce is comprised of mobile candidates," said Alonzo Martinez, associate counsel of compliance at HireRight, a screening firm headquartered in Irvine, Calif. "Candidates want to directly respond to questions regarding their job history and employment and education verifications from a mobile device. The on-demand workforce also wants the convenience of text alerts and configurable scheduling features."

Candidates are also looking for a more transparent screening approach. Redwood City, Calif.-based GoodHire is garnering industry attention for what it calls "humanizing" background checks. The GoodHire process invites candidates to provide context about their criminal records and helps HR follow hiring practices recommended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and many new ban-the-box laws that prohibit employers from asking about criminal history before making a job offer.

"For candidates, it means that they're active participants, aware of every stage of the process," said Brian Monahan, one of the company's co-founders. "It means every candidate sees their background check results and can respond to any inaccuracies. And, of course, it means they're empowered to provide context for any criminal records, employment gaps or other information that HR could perceive as a red flag to hiring."

Applicant Information Security Will Be Under the Spotlight

The colossal data breach at credit reporting agency Equifax in 2017 affected most working adults in the U.S., exposing the vast scope of cybercrime and reinforcing the need for employers to do their part in safeguarding of applicants' and employees' personal information.

"In addition to simply accepting that this is the price of modern life in the digital world, we can also become more vigilant … applying the most effective security measures, and being proactive about employee education around information security," said Vu Do, vice president of compliance at PreCheck, a leading background screening provider for the health care industry.

The amount of personal information captured and stored by organizations will continue to grow in 2018, so securely maintaining and disposing of records that contain sensitive information will continue to be a top priority for every employer, added Christine Cunneen, CEO of Providence, R.I.-based background check company Hire Image.

"In addition to following the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidance on the proper data security practices, businesses that utilize a consumer reporting agency for their background screening services should be sure to partner with one that has achieved accreditation with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners," she said.

Employers should also consider using background check firms that undergo an annual Service Organization Control, or SOC 2, audit from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to ensure high standards for the protection of privacy, security and confidentiality of consumer information used for background checks.

Organizations conducting background screens of citizens of the European Union (EU) will have to be extra attentive after the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect May 25. The law requires that employers receive consent of subjects for data processing, ensure that collected data is made anonymous to protect privacy, make data breach notifications, safely handle the transfer of data across borders, and in some cases, appoint a data protection officer to oversee compliance.

"Based on the difficulty of achieving full compliance, the probability of complaints being filed, and the potential monetary exposure for noncompliance, processing HR data arguably is the highest risk area for GDPR compliance for most companies," said Grant Petersen, an attorney in the Tampa office of Ogletree Deakins.

Montserrat Miller, an attorney with Arnall Golden Gregory, based in Washington, D.C., added that compliance with the GDPR will be critical because of its broad reach. "Organizations must ascertain whether personal data is going back and forth, and do they have a lawful mechanism to transfer that data," she said. "Privacy around employees' personal data is going to take on a new level of importance. As far as we know, there will not be a safe harbor for getting up to speed on compliance. And the penalties are high."

The maximum penalty for noncompliance is up to 4 percent of annual global revenue or 20 million Euros—whichever is greater.

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