Why Now is the Time to Review Your Screening Policy

Why Now is the Time to Review Your Screening Policy

By Tricia O'Connor

Many recruiters already know this: 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 candidates applying for open positions.

This is terrific news if you’re hiring right now – 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.

But this labor market is also a useful reminder to review your screening program and policy. And to know the differences between the two. Here’s a breakdown.

Unemployment By The Numbers


The June unemployment rate was 11.1%, which translates to nearly 18 million people. Another 1.427 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week, reports the Department of Labor. Most of the unemployed have been laid off to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


This is a sharp turn from March, when the unemployment rate was between 3.5% and 4.5%. At that time, employers couldn’t find enough qualified workers to operate at full capacity.


Now, there is a swell of qualified workers to choose from. And businesses who are ready to rehire have reason to review their screening programs and policies, says Curt Schwall, Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at EBI.


“There is a recruiting advantage happening here. There is a broader availability of skilled labor so you can be a little more choosy from a talent perspective. But it’s also a time when companies are reevaluating their needs and objectives. Reviewing your screening program and policy to make sure they align with your new needs and objectives is a smart move,” says Schwall.

The Two P’s

If you’re not familiar with the difference between a screening program and screening policy, here’s a quick breakdown for comparison.

A background screening program comprises the methods you use to collect an applicant’s information (such as using an internationally-accredited screening firm like EBI). 

A background screening policy is a blanket set of instructions, guidance, and rules people (normally HR) use as part of the talent acquisition process.

A clearly defined policy instills consistency, accuracy, and efficiency into the recruiting and hiring process. With so many new candidates flooding the market, it is critical that businesses operating in this new economy review their program and policy to ensure they’re maximizing their investment and mitigating any risk.

Here are three questions to consider:

          1. What is our current screening program? 

Examining how your applicant screening process (if you have one) works in its existing state from 360 degrees can give you great insight. You might consider walking through the process as both an applicant and as an HR professional. Do you find redundancies? Are there gaps or inefficiencies? Is the process streamlined, technologically sound, and accurate? Does it help you identify the best candidate for the job?


          2. Who should perform our background checks? 

One of the biggest choices you’ll need to make is deciding who will perform the background screening process. Is your HR department capable and staffed well enough to handle the workload? Or, are they already overworked and stressed out in this COVID-19 pandemic? Are they up to date on compliance trainings, federal regulations, and the evolving hiring law landscape? If they are an exceptional department, perhaps they can handle this massive responsibility. In more cases than not, though, HR departments are overworked and overwhelmed.


          3. Are we compliant?

If you do make any changes to your screening policy, it’s important to ensure you’re still within the boundaries of the law. Laws exist from local municipalities all the way to the federal government, so you need to research them well and make sure you’re compliant. If you are already partnered with a screening agency, you may want to inquire about their compliance efforts and measures. In an environment where every hire is meaningful to your survival, mitigating risk is a top priority.

EBI Can Help

We understand this is a lot to consider. We’d love to speak with you, but if you’re not quite ready to pick up the phone or email us, start with our two-part series ‘Are You Getting What you Pay For From Your Background Screener?’

This series gives you the knowledge and tools necessary to optimize your screening program and policy and improve the overall quality of your talent acquisition process. If you’re ready to rehire in this massive talent pool, our EBI experts can help.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

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.

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