Background Screening Impressions at SHRM

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I had the pleasure of attending the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Annual Conference in Las Vegas last week and met lots of exciting, interesting and passionate HR practitioners from all over the United States and around the world.

After attending several sessions and speaking with numerous people, here are some of my top impressions from a technology and employment screening perspective.

The candidate experience matters.

Recruiting candidates is about more than just hiring someone as fast as possible. Ensuring a positive experience throughout the candidate journey really does matter.

So much was clear after speaking with many of the attendees at the conference. Unfortunately, candidates often perceive background screening to be an unpleasant obstacle to finally getting that coveted job.

So it’s only fair that recruiters kept stopping by to ask what HireRight does to help candidates have a better hiring experience. To that effect, I was pleased to be able to demo HireRight’s next generation Applicant Center, which was a recent runner up for the CODIE awards.

The overwhelming reaction to it was excitement and enthusiasm. One person even told me how “refreshing” it was to come across a technology vendor who finally gets it.

Why can’t background screening be instantaneous like a Google search?

I was actually a little surprised to hear this question come up a number of times, though in fairness, most of us have been conditioned to completing web queries in a fraction of a second. Background screening sounds so simple in theory. But I think the reality is that most people would be shocked at how complex (and regulated) the process is.

The short answer to why it can’t be instantaneous is that a criminal background search is much more complex than a search for, say, a pizza shop. The longer answer is that, in the United States, at least, public record searches comprise of many searches across a large number of independent, county-level jurisdictions.

This is slowed down by the fact that not all records are digitized. In fact, of the more than 3,000 counties in the country, only about 70% offer electronic public records. The remaining 30% require the presence of a human being to physically walk into the court offices and request a paper record. And considering that 86% of recruiters report finding lies or misrepresentations on resumes, it pays to be thorough.

Why is technology so complex?

For most recruiters, technology is not the end, but rather the avenue to empower. They’d rather focus on serving their internal customer and hiring the right candidates. This is exactly how it should be. They should not have to worry much about the nuances of technology.

In principle, technology is supposed to simplify HR’s life. And to a large extent, it does. However, the technology can only be helpful to the extent that recruiters actually understand how to use it. That sometimes requires thinking through the process. Your candidates have largely come to expect a mobile-first experience. Does your technology support this environment? And do your existing processes really make sense in this context?

There is good news though. Technology vendors often times have the experience and vision to help you truly simplify your processes. And, perhaps more importantly, those of your candidates.

Electronic I-9 is hot!

The only thing hotter than Las Vegas’ sizzling summer heat seemed to be interest in moving from manual I-9 processes to electronic ones. To some extent, this is not surprising, given the government’s increasing focus on I-9 enforcement.

To complicate matters, in order to reliably confirm to state employment eligibility requirements, some states require and/or strongly encourage usage of E-Verify. Given this complex situation, employers want to ensure that they are following the letter of the law while also maintaining efficient HR operations.

Not surprisingly, person after person visited the HireRight booth to inquire about HireRight’s electronic I-9 options. Most complained about the burden caused by having to deal with paper forms and the duplicate data entry work needed to submit E-Verify.

It should seem absurd that, in this digital era, slightly over half of companies still manually fill out Form I-9. Increasingly, there seems to be an acknowledgment that moving away from paper-based forms can lead to more effective processes and operations.

This is even relevant to companies who hire a large number of remote workers at various off-site locations. So if the SHRM conference was an indication, perhaps we will soon see expanded usage of electronic I-9 forms.

For employers to effectively manage their I-9/E-Verify program, they should consider capabilities such as centralized storage of electronic forms, automatic backend integration with USCIS E-Verify and options for remote workforce Form I-9 management.

People love TOMS shoes.

This year, we at HireRight gave back to the community by giving away 200 pairs of TOMS shoes. And folks loved them! People started queueing in line about 50 minutes before the give-away began and the line wrapped around the booth.

As you may know, for every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS gives away one pair of shoes to a child in need. This fits perfectly in line with HireRight’s culture of contributing back to the community, and in fact, we even have paid time off for volunteering. So it was natural for us to partner with a partner (such as TOMS) that fits our employment brand.

No matter what HR solution you use, make sure that it also fits your employment brand.

We’re proud to do our part and we’re glad you stopped by. For more fun pictures from the conference, check out #HireRightGivesBack on Twitter. Hope to see you again at SHRM 2016.

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Abdul Rastagar

I lead the Product Marketing team at HireRight. I am a customer advocate, digital and future enthusiast, technologist, and all around curious guy.

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