COVID-19 Update: Despite court closures in many areas, Sterling is still able to complete criminal checks with minimal disruption thanks to our proprietary end-to-end automation that allows us to access court information. For additional info on how Sterling is handling the COVID-19 situation, please visit our COVID-19 page.

June 28th, 2017 | Julianna Haase, Sterling Talent Solutions

What Tasks Companies Are and Are Not Prioritizing During the Hiring Process?

Sterling recently surveyed 500+ HR professionals on their background check programs and the sentiments surrounding business growth in the upcoming year for our Background Screening Trends and Best Practice Report. We uncovered some exciting results, from the way companies screen potential hires and the information they look for, to predictions for employment trends.

Getting the Facts Straight on Background Checks

One of the trends our screening survey uncovered was that 89% of companies conduct background screens. Those that answered no to whether they conducted background screens were eliminated from further questioning. For those who answered yes, we asked them to elaborate on their background screening process— their company’s standpoint on various legislations, what they screen for and what their priorities are during the hiring procedure. We also included questions about hiring expectations and how technology is changing the job market.

Based on the remaining participants, 60% of respondents expect hiring to increase this year and as a result, many different elements of the hiring process, as well as the background screening process itself, are under scrutiny.

Priorities For Companies Performing Background Checks

As companies prepare for an influx of candidates for new open positions, their priorities have shifted towards improving the candidate experience and tailoring their background screening processes to be as efficient and thorough as possible.

  • Improving candidate experience. Employers agree that candidate experience during the background check process is an integral part of the hiring procedure and warrants extra attention this year. Motivated by the predictions for a candidate-driven job market, employers want to get candidates on board as quickly and easily as possible. Reducing time-to-hire, implementing technological updates that allow completion of a background check from a mobile device and providing real-time status updates are some of the main areas where survey respondents would like to improve their programs.
  • Social media screening. The percentage of companies who perform social media screening checks rose from 5% in 2015 to 23% in 2017. Though a vast majority of companies are still not prioritizing this aspect of the hiring process, it is important to note the rapid pace at which this trend is emerging—and not just for demolishing a candidate’s chances for being hired. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 29% of participants have subsequently hired a candidate after viewing something positive on their social media page. For those companies who do perform social media screens, 95% occur in house through a member of the HR team or hiring manager. It is essential to stay compliant with social media screening laws that inhibit an employer from considering age, gender, or religion in their hiring decision.
  • Criminal record searches. 93% of respondents use criminal record checks to evaluate prospective employees. Criminal record checks remain an important part of the background check policy, but it is interesting to note that 86% of responders said fewer than 20% of candidates whose background checks reveal criminal convictions are disqualified from employment as a result of these convictions. Being that many employers are open to hiring people with a criminal background, many employers stated that the Ban the Box legislation only complicates the hiring process for some and is just a quick fix for others. 82% of companies have negative associations with the Ban the Box laws, whether they think it is unreasonable or confusing for employers, or simply see the law as delaying the inevitable discovery during the background screening process.

What Companies Are Not Prioritizing During the Hiring Process

The way organizations screen their employees is an ever-changing process as a result of legal action and cultural progression i.e. drug laws, Ban the Box. Based on our survey results, you now know what companies are prioritizing during the hiring process, but you might be curious what components of the procedure aren’t as important to them right now.

  • Reducing annual spend on background checks. As shared above, 89% of our respondents currently perform background checks. One of the main reasons for doing background screening ties into the feeling of security. According to our Employment Background Check: Survey of American Citizens Report, 78% of Americans expect to feel safe in the workplace while 81% believe that feeling safe is a right, not a privilege. The top two reasons employers perform background checks are to protect clients and customers and to improve workplace safety, resulting in only 6% of respondents labeling cutting background screening costs as their top priority.  
  • Discontinuing drug testing. Though marijuana use has been legalized in 28 states and the District of Columbia and positive drug tests have increased by 11% and 9% in Colorado and Washington respectively, only 1% of respondents said that they would stop drug testing altogether if recreational marijuana use were to become legal at the federal level. 16% agree that they would remove marijuana from the panel and 5% would ignore positive results. Data continues to show that businesses are rethinking their drug testing programs, though few companies have plans to remove drug testing as a whole.

As a result of changing legislation and technology, the background screening industry is constantly shifting and improving to make the hiring process easier and compliant for both HR teams and candidates. We invite you to learn more about the trends in employee background screening by reading our Background Screening Trends and Best Practice Report in full.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.