A curriculum vitae (CV), is the job seeker’s primary marketing tool – a means to promote themselves to prospective employers. Unfortunately, like many promotions, CVs are not always as they seem. In fact, 27.2% of CV checks carried out by background screening company First Advantage reveal inaccuracies. In the technology sector, that figure rises to 37.1%.
Not performing background checks increased the likelihood of hiring someone who is unqualified, unsafe or otherwise unsuitable. Screening is essentially a risk mitigation exercise, conducted on the belief that prevention is better than cure: prevent the wrong people entering your organisation and you significantly reduce the risk of harm to your people, assets and reputation.
The potential consequences of bad hiring decisions include fraud, theft, loss of productivity and disruption to service. This can also lead to bad publicity and brand damage, resulting in loss of business and employee morale and increased staff turnover and recruitment costs. One bad hire could mean starting the recruitment process all over again, doubling the cost that would have been incurred if the right person had been hired first time.
In short, recruitment is an investment, often a considerable one (£8,000 on average for a senior manager/director and £3,000 for other employees, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD). And like all investments, recruitment carries risks. Screening technology can be very effective in mitigating these risks, and I have outlined some key areas employers need to think about when implementing it:
In-House vs Outsource
Depending on the number of candidates involved, screening can be a surprisingly onerous task to conduct. Consider how many candidates need to be screened and the number of staff available to conduct the necessary checks in line with internal policies and regulatory requirements. If volumes are low, an in-house solution may be the most appropriate and cost-effective. If volumes are high, it’s likely that quality, speed and or cost targets will be difficult to meet without involving an external provider. Using an external provider also provides assurance of complete impartiality and access to specialist expertise.
Technology is arguably the single most important component in an effective and compliant screening program. Data protection and privacy legislation are complex areas, particularly when screening internationally, so it’s essential that the technology and processes employed are robust, adaptable and provide a detailed audit trail.
Big On Data
One important way to ensure accuracy of screening data is to verify candidates’ credentials with the relevant organisation directly, rather than using the contact details provided by a candidate. Important reporting information will include turn-around-times, ‘unable to verify’ rates and discrepancy rates (the proportion of checks which reveal inaccuracies or adverse information), allowing you to monitor the performance of your screening programs.
Social Media Screening: What’s Not To Like?
There are few aspects of our personal and professional lives where social media isn’t endemic. However, when it comes to screening, I would advise employers to steer well clear. The potential for misinterpretation and conjecture when looking at a candidate’s posts or pictures makes social media’s involvement in screening unhelpful and best avoided. Remember: don’t mix business with pleasure.
If you have an applicant tracking system (ATS), integration offers efficiency and error-reducing benefits, potentially meaning HR staff don’t need access the screening platform at all. When it comes to integration, experience counts.
Will Data Kill The CV Star?
Whilst the CV will undoubtedly change in the future, the death of the CV is some way off, if it ever happens. As an important part of candidates’ marketing collateral, a well-crafted CV helps them to stand-out from the competition. Whilst screening is quite rightly objective, it does not diminish the value of the subjective – it complements it.
The Future Of Screening
The future of screening is likely to involve greater use of biometric, radio frequency identification (RFID) and microchip technology, all of which are becoming increasingly popular means of identifying individuals and recalling their information. For example, finger-printing is now used to check criminal records in South Africa; RFID – as found in London’s Oyster cards – is used in some American schools to record students’ attendance; and micro-chips implanted under the skin have allowed people to unlock doors and start vehicles. The potential such technology holds for improving the speed, ease and accuracy of gathering candidate information is enormous, but so too are the implications for personal liberty, privacy and trust.