Background Screening is Changing: 3 Global Trends to Watch

August 21, 2020

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In the early days, background screening was simple, little more than a criminal check. Since then, businesses have embraced new screening tools and technologies, and never looked back. Fast forward to today, we’re seeing important shifts in global background screening as companies around the world seek to continuously augment and optimize their programs in order to better understand candidates in less time.

In this article, we’re offering employers—many of which are head-down due to the current global health crisis—a glimpse outside of their company by sharing a few of the top global screening trends we’re seeing in the market. These insights are based on a recent review of our customers’ screening preferences and behaviors, paired with insights from the 71 million global searches we performed in 2019.

Moving to a wide-angle lens.

Sure, the scope of background checks has expanded since the early days, but now we’re seeing employers want still more insight—beyond the standard criminal history, employment and education—delivered with increased ease and speed. They’re searching for the intangibles, clues about a candidate’s honesty and integrity. To do this, more are turning to social media searches and CV comparisons, and we’re even seeing increased interest in facial recognition checks.

As for ease and speed, sometimes there’s little you can do when a check is stalled in another country due to slow technology, political unrest or other obstacles, but you can control how fast it’s processed. Knowing this, demand continues to grow for mobile-enabled platforms that simplify and accelerate candidate engagement—think: data entry and uploading consent forms, etc.—and locally optimized screening programs that automate the labyrinth of compliance requirements within different countries.

Roughly 1 in 3 workers are contingent.

Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed the rise of the contingent workforce, as people have increasingly opted for the perceived freedom and flexibility of freelance, contractor and gig work. Now, in the midst of today’s COVID-19 pandemic, contingent work is providing much-needed opportunities for both workers and employers as millions of full-time employees are being furloughed or laid off. It helps the unemployed fill gaps in income, while allowing companies to staff key positions for less, without the cost of benefits. With up to 30 percent of U.S. workers today falling in the contingent workforce bucket, we’re seeing more employers take action and implement contractor screening.

They want fast, adaptable contractor screening tools that address business-specific circumstances. For instance, if you’re onboarding large groups of contractors at once, you need the speed and ease of batch screening. If your resources are stretched thin, you might want a “self-screen” and “self-pay” feature that allows contractors to initiate and pay for their own screening. Other high priorities are badging capabilities and solution automation to help accelerate and streamline the process.

While it may seem tempting to skimp on contractor background checks, there’s significant risk involved. Contractors often work alongside full-time employees, representing the employer’s brand, and many have access to sensitive populations, information or locations. Knowing this, these workers should always be screened to the same standard as full-time employees.

Setting a standard for all checks.

Speaking of standards, we’re seeing more companies consolidate their domestic and international background screening under a single global umbrella. While we’ve always promoted this strategy, the difference now is that we’re seeing more companies doing it. It may sound complicated, especially if you’re juggling multiple providers to perform background checks in different countries, but it’s not when you work with a qualified screening provider that has the technology, global reach and expertise to help you navigate the process.

The payoff is worth the effort. When all background checks are managed under the same program, organizations can work with their provider to establish a unified global standard across the business, while also improving compliance, purchasing power and risk management. What’s more, it’s easier to manage and monitor program performance with real-time dashboard views delivered by a single provider. You can make smart, data-driven adjustments, when necessary, based on new and evolving trends pertaining to candidates and a variety of background screening factors.

For a deeper dive into specific global screening trends with detailed statistics—including background check ordering volumes, turnaround times and screening scope, broken out by country and region—download the latest part of the First Advantage 2020 Trends Report: Global Insights by Region.

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