Recruiters are often the gatekeepers who decide which candidates make it through the doors of a business. They rely on a variety of information-gatherers, like background screening companies completing background checks, to aggregate data about candidates. But the amount of data provided and collected about job candidates can be overwhelming to sift through. Combined with the disruption to routine HR processes caused by COVID-19, recruiters have a harder hiring job than usual.
Despite these new challenges, or perhaps even because of them, background checks remain a key component to any comprehensive talent acquisition strategy. In fact, background checks play a key role in ensuring a strong fit between a new hire and their new job.
Let’s explore how the current environment is impacting recruiters’ reliance on background checks, and what types of screening measures are most important within the context of this ongoing pandemic.
There is a correlation between unemployment numbers and the available labor pool of talent. The more people who are unemployed, the bigger the numbers of job applicants vying for open positions. Up until this year, many businesses were facing a talent shortage. In September, however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate of 7.9%, down from its peak of 14.7% in April. That translates to 12.6 million people, many of whom have been displaced from jobs because of COVID-19 ramifications.
This is terrific news if you’re hiring – with a bigger field to choose from, it’s an opportunity to hit a home run by hiring the right person for the right role.
“COVID-19 has created a hiring environment where employers can be more selective from a talent perspective, says Bob Capwell, Chief Knowledge Officer at EBI and past board chairman of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).
But the pandemic is also forcing many enterprise-caliber businesses to reevaluate how they recruit and vet candidates to meet their hiring goals for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.
“During times of higher unemployment, we see candidates getting more creative with their job skills and credentials to separate themselves from a competitive job market. Especially during current times of social distancing, organizations must rely upon virtual interviews and remote assessments. This lacks the intimate knowledge a recruiter normally gathers about a candidate during an in-person interview. A comprehensive background check can help more thoroughly validate a candidate in today’s virtual hiring environment,” says Capwell.
With so many new candidates flooding the market since the pandemic began, it is critical leadership reviews its background screening program and policy to ensure it is maximizing investment, mitigating any risk, and managing its HR departments’ workload. Where a background screening program comprises the methods you use to collect an applicant’s information, a background screening policy is a blanket set of instructions, guidance, and rules HR professionals use as part of the talent acquisition process.
A clearly defined policy instills consistency, accuracy, and efficiency into the recruiting and hiring programs an organization uses.
While the pressures on businesses to survive this tumultuous economy feel overwhelming, one move you don’t want to make is abandoning background checks as a cost-saving measure. A CareerBuilder survey found that one bad hire can cost an employer nearly $15,000. Not only is this a needless monetary cost during a risky time, but the damage to morale and loss of productivity that comes from hiring the wrong person can have a negative impact on a workforce that’s still coping with COVID-19 consequences.
“The failure of a company to exercise a reasonable standard of due diligence by not conducting a basic background check creates significant risk exposures when it comes to workplace safety, asset protection, brand reputation, and workplace culture. A company who tries to defend a lack of due diligence in court might find it indefensible,” cautions Curt Schwall, Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at EBI.
By understanding how pre-employment background checks help HR professionals gather the right applicant information at the right time, talent acquisition teams can better align the types of checks they need to help organizations meet hiring goals during and after COVID-19.
It’s important to remember background checks solve for two great needs of any comprehensive hiring and onboarding strategy. One, screening candidates helps HR professionals establish and maintain a safe workplace for employees, clients, and visitors – this is a vital success factor in talent retention. Two, screening helps recruiters learn information about each candidate that helps place the right talent at the right time in the right job. This positions the new hire for success and strengthens your business’s ability to recover from this health crisis.
Our goal at EBI is to give you the knowledge and tools necessary to optimize your business and improve the overall quality of your operations. Here’s another article you may find helpful:
If you need additional background screening guidance from our EBI experts, we’d love to speak with you. From EBI’s Workplace Health & Safety to background checks, we have a full suite of solutions to help meet your business goals.
*EBI originally contributed this article to HiringSuccess.com and was released in October.
Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.