Resource Center > Business > Employment background checks tailored for the modern workforce: Adapting to new hiring challenges

Employment background checks tailored for the modern workforce: Adapting to new hiring challenges

by Rockey Simmons

Close-up Of A Businessperson's Hand Looking At Receipts Through Magnifying Glass At Workplace

Rewind to 1995. The corporate world is buzzing with the advent of internet-powered business models, and a company called Amazon has just sold its first book.

At that same pivotal moment, a forward-thinking entrepreneur faces a crucial hiring decision.

What does this person do? With the technological resources of the time, the individual dives into a stack of resumes, relying on a gut-driven background-check process—a stark contrast to the laser-precise, tailored employee background checks of today.

In our fast-paced business world, you need to ensure that your potential hires are not just qualified, but also trustworthy and reliable. This requires implementing employment background checks tailored for the modern workforce—because it only takes one hiring slip-up to find yourself in serious trouble.

How do you avoid these slip-ups? That’s what this article is all about.

Note: This article discusses American employment laws. If you are outside the U. S., you’ll need to follow the legislation that pertains to the country in which you operate.

The new hiring process

Employment background checks have become a critical step in the hiring process.

They allow you to verify the credentials, references, and criminal records of candidates.

These checks help you gain valuable insights into a candidate’s history and enable you to make informed hiring decisions while mitigating potential risks.

The importance of personalized employment screenings in a dynamic job market

With the changing dynamics of the modern workforce (which now includes remote workers and digital nomads), background checks have evolved to be more comprehensive and adapted to fit new employment scenarios.

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Understanding the nuances of background checks is key to their effectiveness.

They must be conducted within the bounds of the law—for example, in the U. S., Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit discriminatory practices.

The landscape of employment background checks is complex, with varying regulations and potential implications for your business.

For example, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 mandates the verification of employment eligibility post-hire, outlining the legal framework for conducting such checks.

Moreover, with advancements in digital technologies, employee background checks (PDF) are increasingly driven by data, automating and streamlining the process.

This evolution requires your business to stay adept and knowledgeable about how digital transformations are enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of background checks.

Navigating the legalities of employment background checks can help ensure your business’s hiring process complies with federal and state regulations. In collaboration with your attorney, your understanding the legal framework in which you must operate can protect you from potential legal issues and safeguard the rights of applicants and employees.

Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information by consumer reporting agencies. While it includes provisions related to employment background checks, it applies more broadly to various types of consumer reports.

Under the FCRA, employers must obtain explicit written consent from individuals before obtaining a background report. This consent must be obtained in a standalone document separate from the employment application to ensure clarity.

Additionally, the FCRA requires employers to provide a clear and conspicuous disclosure to individuals that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes. This disclosure must be provided in writing and in a document consisting solely of the disclosure, without any additional information.

If an employer takes adverse action based on information in a consumer report, such as not hiring or promoting someone, the FCRA mandates a pre-adverse action notice. This notice includes a copy of the consumer report and a summary of rights under the FCRA, allowing the individual an opportunity to dispute any inaccuracies before final adverse action is taken.

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Finally, if the employer ultimately decides to take adverse action, such as not hiring or promoting the individual, based on information in the consumer report, the FCRA requires a final adverse action notice to be provided. This notice informs the individual of the adverse action taken and provides additional information, including the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting agency that provided the report.

Here are the key steps in FCRA compliance:

  • Obtain prior written consent
  • Provide a stand-alone disclosure
  • When applicable, issue a pre-adverse action notice with a copy of the report, allow time for the individual to dispute, and send final adverse action notice.

Understanding federal and state laws

U. S. federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) dictate that employment background checks cannot be used in a discriminatory manner.

This means any background checks must be applied uniformly, without discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, or religion; disability; genetic information; and age (40 or older).

You must familiarize yourself with these federal laws to avoid employment discrimination.

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State laws can vary considerably and may place additional restrictions or provide specific provisions on how background checks are performed.

For instance, some states have implemented “Ban the Box” laws restricting when you can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history.

It’s essential that you work with your attorney to ensure that you are considering the federal and state laws that apply to your business so that you maintain legal compliance and avoid potential lawsuits.

  • Overview of legal considerations:
    • Federal laws: Uniform application, no discrimination, EEOC compliance.
    • State laws: Possible additional restrictions, “Ban the Box,” varying state-specific requirements.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the three types of background checks.

Types of background checks

When a candidate applies for a job, you may assess his or her suitability through different background checks. These investigations are used to verify the individual’s qualifications and legal standing, helping ensure he or she is a reliable and trustworthy candidate.

Criminal records and court records search

A criminal records and court records search is a thorough examination of a job applicant’s criminal history. Employers use this process to assess any convictions or court cases that may be relevant to the job he or she is applying for. It also helps you maintain workplace safety and integrity.

Education and employment verification

Education and employment verification checks confirm the accuracy of a candidate’s academic accomplishments and employment history.

Employers verify the schools he or she attended, qualifications he or she earned, and his or her work experience to ensure they’re consistent with what the person presented on his or her resume.

This can be further confirmed through the personal references the applicant has listed on his or her application if that’s part of your employee hiring process.

Credit and identity checks

During credit and identity checks, you review a job candidate’s financial responsibility via a credit check and confirm the validity of his or her personal information for identity verification.

This is especially important for positions that require handling of financial transactions or sensitive data.

Best Practices for hiring through background screening

When incorporating background checks into your hiring process, you must ensure they are carried out with fairness and reliability.

A consistent approach that adheres to legal requirements can help build trust and mitigate risk.

Maintaining a fair and consistent process

Your approach to background screening should be uniform for all applicants to support fair hiring practices.

To begin with, you should have a standardized policy that outlines the specific types of checks you’ll conduct and the criteria used for evaluating results.

Risk factors for the job role can help determine the extent of the investigation.

Furthermore, keeping the process consistent across candidates for similar positions can help mitigate any potential claims of discrimination or bias.

Disclosure and consent requirements

Before you initiate any background checks, you are required to obtain disclosure and consent from the applicant.

**This was mentioned earlier, but it’s very important to put this into a consistent workflow as a best practice.

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This step must be done using a clear and distinct document that explains the specific background checks you intend to run.

You’ll also need to confirm that your consent forms comply with state and federal laws to avoid legal pitfalls.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to inform applicants of their rights regarding background checks, including their right to dispute any inaccurate information discovered during the screening process.

Challenges and considerations in modern background checks

The process for conducting employment background checks must be reliable and accurate while respecting privacy and avoiding discrimination, all while keeping up with evolving technology.

Balancing privacy, accuracy, and timeliness

When you’re reviewing background check processes, privacy should be at the forefront of your considerations.

Regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) impose strict rules on personal data handling, mandating that your procedures must protect applicant information.

However, you still need to ensure that the information gathered is accurate and delivered promptly.

High accuracy levels in background checks are crucial as they can influence hiring decisions.

Mitigating risk and avoiding discrimination

Mitigating risk ensures that the candidates you hire do not become liabilities. However, this imperative must be balanced against the need to avoid discriminatory practices.

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As such, it’s essential to adhere to laws such the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines that protect candidates from bias and discrimination.

Fine-tuning your background check processes along these lines can help tackle biases inherent in criminal history checks. Just be sure your intent is to judge each case on its own merits.

Some businesses are even reassessing background check requirements, potentially relaxing them considering market demands, as per insights from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Advancements in background check technology

Finally, a spotlight on background check technology reveals that innovation is shaping the future of employee screening.

With the recent surges in technological advancements, you now have tools at your disposal to streamline and enhance the reliability of these checks.

Providers like Corra Group offer comprehensive services that stretch across the globe, reflecting a demand for international diligence.

It’s critical for your background check technology to be robust and efficient, lessening the likelihood of errors and ensuring a streamlined review process.

Implementing effective background check policies

When defining the strategy for your company’s employment screening processes, you want to build a robust background check policy that aligns with all applicable regulations and matches your business needs.

Your policy should detail how you manage the sensitive data these checks obtain and how it factors into your hiring decisions in a way that assures both compliance and fairness.

Developing a background check policy

Your first step is to establish a background check policy that is thorough and compliant with all federal, state, and local laws.

Begin by identifying the types of background checks— such as criminal history, employment verification, and educational qualifications—your company requires.

Ensure that your policy covers:

  • The scope and frequency of background checks
  • How and when you notify candidates
  • The procedure for evaluating the results
  • The rights of applicants, in line with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Keep in mind the importance of reviewing and updating your policy regularly as laws and best practices evolve.

This due diligence is not merely a regulatory necessity; it’s also a fundamental investment in the credibility and integrity of your business.

Integrating technology and human resources

Leveraging modern technology in the execution of background checks can enhance their efficiency.

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However, you’ll need to ensure you integrate technology selectively. One way to do so is to team up with a skilled human resources team to interpret the results.

Consider the following approaches to integrate technology effectively:

  1. Automated background check platforms:
  2. Use them to streamline data collection and analysis.
  3. Ensure they have robust security measures to protect personal information.
  • Human oversight:
  • Make sure someone reviews all results for potential errors or context that software may miss.
  • This maintains the integrity of your hiring process and adherence to your policy.

Keep the lines of communication between your technology providers and HR personnel active and open.

A successful background check process is a blend of cutting-edge tools and the discerning human touch of your HR professionals.

With that said, you also want to make sure your business is being represented properly online.

If potential new hires are researching your company, what will they see? Will they see curated branded search results or something else?

If you want to know how the internet views you, grab your free reputation report card and get your score. See what you need to address in your online reputation or what you can focus on to protect your executive team’s personal information on the internet.

Note: The information contained in this article should not be used as legal advice. You should contact your attorney as you develop and implement your company’s background check policy.

This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.