It wasn't all that long ago that background screening was a paper-based process. Sadly, many companies still do it this way. The problem? Paper-based checks are time consuming, inefficient, and can lead to inaccuracies/errors. That said, we know shifting to a technology-based system might feel daunting.
Our goal with this article is to dispel any lingering doubts and lower anxiety by showing you how technology continues to transform background screening—for the better.
To do this, we're going to break down the discussion into two categories: front-end technology and back-end technology.
Front-end technology fuels the experience that the hiring managers and job applicants will have with the overall screening process as well as the actual user interface.
Think in terms of the following...
A screening process that kicks off quickly via text/email.
Technology should make it easy for the employer to initiate the background check via email or text, which, in turn, should make it easy for the candidate to complete the required information (i.e., electronically signing the disclosures and authorizations that give permission to complete the background check).
Picture this: The applicant gets the screening invite as an email or text message. Now, the person can complete the process on their lunch break (or whenever it’s convenient), right from their smartphone. They don't have to mail or fax anything back. There's no paper shuffling. There are fewer errors.
Note: Being able to do all of this over a smartphone is becoming increasingly important, thanks to the influx of Millennials into the workforce (soon to be followed by Gen Z). Both demographics expect and demand this sort of streamlined approach.
Easy integration with an employer's applicant tracking systems (ATS).
Many larger organizations use an ATS for recruitment and hiring. The best background screening technology will easily integrate with the ATS, making it even more streamlined. You can kick off the screening process right from the ATS (and the applicant would receive a text or email, like we described above).
"Tools that mine your ATS can often identify otherwise buried candidates. This tech keeps the talent community relevant, ready and fresh for all job opportunities that come in, as well as offering a larger candidate population due to improved taxonomy and AI."
- Mark Masterson, Yoh
A significant reduction in time-to-hire.
It's a tight labor market, as we all know. Reducing time-to-hire is always important, but even more so now. As technology makes it easy to start the process and eliminates the wait time associated with paper applications, employers can easily save 2-3 days on the overall process.
Real-time status on screenings.
The best background screening technology will provide real-time alerts on newly completed screenings. Ideally, you should also receive daily reports/summaries about all recent orders—those that have been completed and those that are still in process (including the ETA for completion). This information is valuable because it can help employers plan accordingly for things like training and onboarding new hires.
When it comes to something as sensitive as employment screenings, you don't want to sacrifice accuracy (or security) for speed. Luckily, today's back-end technology improves accuracy while being incredibly fast and secure.
Let us demonstrate via some examples.
Consider criminal background checks.
Of the 3300+ county courthouses in the United States, about half are online. Many smaller and mid-size background check companies are not integrated with those courthouses that have online data access; they still send people out to retrieve records. But companies with strong back-end technology, like Good Egg, are integrated with the online databases, so they can request and obtain criminal history information electronically, streamlining the process and accelerating the completion of the background screening order.
Note: When those other courthouses finally get online (and they will, eventually), companies with strong back-end technology will already be ready to integrate.
Consider all the "other" types of online databases that exist.
You might not know this, but there are literally thousands of other online databases out there. These sources house non-criminal, but still relevant information that could inform the hiring decision. For example, maybe an applicant has been sanctioned by the GSA (the government's purchasing agency), and, as such, the person isn't allowed to work as a debt collector. This could be important information for a hiring manager to know. Again, not all vendors have strong back-end technology that's integrated with these databases (but Good Egg does!).
Consider employment verifications.
Just as technology makes it easy for hiring managers to initiate screenings and for job applicants to complete their screenings, technology also makes it easy for employers to verify a former employee's information.
For example, at Good Egg, we can email the previous employer to validate the information that the applicant has given to ensure that the dates and position are accurate. In the email, we provide an electronic form that the employer can fill out quickly online, right from their smartphones even. This improves the accuracy and turnaround time for services like employment verifications and education verifications.
Consider social media screening.
The online world is a vast space with literally millions of places to look. It's impossible for a human to conduct a thorough review of a candidate's social media activity, but with powerful artificial intelligence (AI) and smart algorithms, social media screenings can happen quickly, thoroughly, and compliantly. (You can learn more about our social media screening services here.)
Consider ongoing monitoring.
Ongoing monitoring provides an important benefit—the ability for your organization to respond proactively, rather than reactively to employees' problematic and/or criminal behaviors.
Again, this isn't something a human can do, but AI makes it possible today.
How do you know you're working with a screening vendor that has great technology?
One word: ASK. Vendors with great technology will want to talk about it. But you can get the conversation started by asking, "How do you access criminal records?"
Another thing you should inquire about is back-end data security, data retention, and redundancy. Background vendors deal with sensitive information. Security and compliance are paramount. Questions to ask: Are the systems stored in the cloud in a tier 1 facility?
At Good Egg, our systems are cloud-based and secure in a SSAE16 type II certified data center. It is SOC 2 Type II with 64-bit servers and live-data mirroring. Redundancy is built-in on every level, including power and environmental controls. A track record of 99% uptime means your data is both secure and highly available. Smaller background screening companies might be hosting their own servers on-site, which can be problematic.
A final word about the human component and quality assurance.
Great technology alone isn't enough. Employee screenings deal with people's lives, so it makes sense that a human being should be involved in the process. We always have trained specialists providing quality assurance (making sure the "right" John Smith is being vetted on social media, for example).
And sometimes job candidates crave the human touch, something we see a lot when it comes to scheduling drug tests. At Good Egg, our process allows people to easily schedule their drug tests online, and we even send email/text reminders. That said, candidates often need that final "push" from a warm voice on the other end of the phone, which is something our team also provides.
Bottom line: Great technology combined with six-star customer service is the winning formula when it comes to successful employee screenings.