By Doug Beavis, sales and commercial director, Credence (a Certn company)
Organizations are struggling with a significant talent shortage – a KPMG UK study released in September found there were more than 1 million vacancies in the UK and that 70% of companies surveyed reported that it was “difficult or very difficult” to attract and retain employees. In this environment, you can’t let your background screening process become an additional barrier to hiring the right people – in theory, that’s the exact opposite of what these checks are supposed to do.
But at the same time, don’t be tempted into forgoing them, either. When done right, background checks don’t need to become a hassle – they can become a hiring tool to help you navigate today’s choppy hiring waters. But the key phrase there is “done right,” and certainly not all checks tick that box.
Hiring challenges and background checks
In the UK, the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have reduced the number of overseas workers coming to the UK. That’s led to major shortages in industries from retail to agriculture. On top of this, the so-called Great Resignation has taken root worldwide, with millions of people leaving their jobs for a variety of reasons. According to a labour market economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, “during the early part of the pandemic there were four unemployed people for every vacancy in the UK – now the ratio is one for one.”
There’s a dearth of candidates and a surge of vacancies, meaning competition is fierce in the hiring market. Employers can’t afford to make any missteps in terms of their hiring process – anything deemed too arduous, time-consuming or invasive to prospects is going to seriously jeopardize their ability to successfully hire worthy candidates.
Getting background checks right
It might be tempting to eschew background checks altogether to avoid potential missteps, but that isn’t realistic. Employers must conduct at least the bare minimum of background checks. For instance, checking a candidate’s right to work in the UK is a legal requirement; otherwise, you can be fined up to £20,000 for each illegally employed worker. People today generally expect to be screened, but the process doesn’t need to be onerous.
The key is to create a background screening process that is effective and efficient. The first mistake many companies make is not choosing the right background checks. They need to ensure the checks they are performing on their candidate are applicable to the role they’re applying for. If you’re not tailoring checks to the role, candidates wind up having to do more than they should, and that’s confusing and annoying. Why should they be subjected to background checks that aren’t at all related to the role they’re applying for?
Picking the right partner
If you’re only focused on hiring in the UK, it probably doesn’t make sense to pick a U.S.-focused company for your background checks. If you’re hiring globally, you need to choose a company that can conduct global checks and not just claim they can. You need a provider that deeply understands and complies with different national rules.
Too many companies overlook the fact that one of the most important parts of a background screening company’s platform is the candidate-facing side. These days, 90% of candidates are completing forms on their smartphones and other mobile devices, so you need to pick a company with excellent mobile UI.
Look for a seamless experience, too. Many companies split their checks, where a candidate fills out their form and perhaps five or six screens are going to be performed. There might be one person doing credit checks, another doing education checks, another doing reference checks and so on. You end up with multiple people doing checks, and they aren’t all in communication.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Other companies provide a consolidated experience where the candidate only has to deal with one person from the background screening function through the whole process.
Do what’s necessary, but do it right
Background screening is too often seen as a necessary evil – something that must be done and is likely to be tedious and confusing. But it’s an unavoidable aspect of doing business; companies need to do them. You can’t compromise on security – and especially if you’re working in a highly regulated environment – but neither does it need to conflict with or prohibit your ability to hire with ease in a competitive market. A bad background check process and the experience candidates then have of your company can aggravate talent scarcity. But when done the right way, taking the above guidance into consideration, you can make screening a hero of your hiring process, not a hassle.
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