Company Unveils List of 2009 Background Screening Trends

employeescreenIQ, an employment screening company, announced its 2009 list of 10 background-screening trends at the Society for Human Resource Management's Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago. The list is designed to provide hiring professionals with information about important screening topics in preparation for the upcoming year.

1. The Importance of Thorough Background Checks in a Shrinking Job Market

Considering the state of the economy, the job market is destined to become even more competitive, which in turn could lead some individuals to stretch the truth in order to secure employment. These new employees will be expected to fulfill a wide range of jobs and responsibilities, thus it is imperative the items listed on their resumes truly reflect the experience they are claiming. Resume "fluffing" isn't the only area employers need to focus on; conviction rates among job applicants are also on the rise. Now more than ever, hiring professionals need to be sure their employment screening firms are conducting thorough, detailed background checks. employeescreenIQ finds a 56 percent discrepancy rate between what is reported on a resume and what is found when conducting employment and education verifications. The company also has found a significant increase in criminal hit rates over the last year.

2. The Use of Social Networking Sites to Screen Individuals

The social network revolution has changed many communication channels, but should it affect the way job applicants are screened? Social networking sites such as Facebook, My Space and LinkedIn contain a wealth of personal information -- both good and bad -- that allow hiring professionals to view home pages in order to gain additional information about job candidates. Good idea? Bad idea? Does this practice pose a threat to violating FCRA (Free Credit Reporting Act) regulations and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines?

3. The Screening of Outside Contractors

One of the most important reasons background checks are conducted is to make sure an employer's workers, customers and contractors are safe from harmful actions. But when a contractor is on-site at an employer's business, which party is responsible for screening the contractor's workforce? And how can all those involved be sure the screening provider hired is using best practices? With more and more outside sources being utilized by staffing managers to fill positions, this is sure to be a hot topic in 2009.

4. Background-screening for Existing Employees

Background-screening is a great method to analyze prospective employees. Why should the screening process stop there? Recurring background checks on current employees are becoming more of a common practice. Continuous employee screening can help employers stay abreast of a person's personal activities that can play a role in the individual's employment standing.

5. Thorough Background Checks and the National Criminal Database

A national criminal database search shouldn't be the sole method used when performing a criminal background check. It should be used as a complement to a countywide criminal search. National criminal databases are aggregated by individual companies and are limited to only resources that are willing to share such information. There is no governmental mandate to participate and no control over what information gets in, how often it is reported and or updated. Hiring professionals must confer with their screening company to make sure the provider is using the best practice method of conducting county records searches as its primary information source -- this, along with researching a national criminal database as a secondary source, will provide professionals with information needed for accurate employment screening.

6. States' Focus on Developing Privacy Procedures for Public Records

In the age of identification theft, states are taking measures to protect their citizens' personal information. This seems like a good concept, but these protection measures can affect how quickly and how much information employers can obtain. What happens if these measures block the release of important hiring information, which if known, could have helped avoid a workplace transgression?

7. International Screening

Many multi-national companies operate in a global economy and are not only focusing their screening efforts on the employees they are bringing into their home countries, but also the applicants that are trying to obtain positions at the facilities they operate overseas. Navigating through each country's laws and regulations can be a long and difficult process for employers. So they need to make sure they are using a screening provider that can evaluate and interpret the countless international laws and regulations. The complexity of the international privacy laws, in addition to the accuracy of international records, has created several issues for employers. As the world is beginning to embrace the concept of background-screening beyond the United States, employers are now faced with a myriad of issues, mainly, that they are following the proper legal procedures of the countries in which they are conducting background checks, especially concerning privacy laws.

8. State Mandates and the Electronic I-9 Process

Electronically filing I-9 forms speeds up the process and improves the accuracy of verifying a potential employee's citizenship and right-to-work. Currently, over 85 percent of paper I-9 forms are filled out incorrectly. With such a large margin of error, states are beginning to mandate the electronic I-9 process. Are all the states ready to make this move in the coming years?

9. Adjudication Modules

Some hiring managers use adjudication modules -- grids or charts that dictate specific reactions to convictions for identified crimes -- to assist them in the hiring process. The modules are perceived as a helpful tool to use during the employment review process. A pitfall for developing an accurate adjudication module is that different jurisdictions define crimes differently. These inconsistencies result in a flawed system and possible employer EEOC infractions. What can be done to develop a compliant and consistent adjudication module?

10. Educating the Marketplace about Background-screening

Human resources, risk management and security professionals have many responsibilities associated with their positions. Even though hiring and selecting a background-screening provider is a small portion of their overall duties, it is still important to keep current on the industry and the integral role it plays in mitigating an organization's liabilities.

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