November 2nd, 2022 | Sterling

HR Tech Annual Conference: Sterling’s Top Takeaways

Team Sterling was in Las Vegas in September for the 2022 HR Tech Annual Conference, where we had a chance to connect with familiar faces and make new connections.

We were proud to showcase all the ways in which we put people first in our criminal background checks and identity verification services. We shared product demos, offered the opportunity for booth visitors to capture their authentic selves with a free professional headshot, and challenged attendees to a myth-busters game on identity verification and integrations.

Taylor Liggett, General Manager of Sterling Identity, and Mark Lockwood, General Manager of Commercial Sector,, hosted a session where they took a provocative look into the future of hiring, digital identity wallets, portable career credentials, and pre-verified candidates.

We asked our Sterling staff to share their top takeaways from the event and what trends and insights they heard from attendees.

What are HR Tech attendees’ biggest challenges?

Anthony Gildone, Enterprise Executive, Retail and Franchise Verticals: HR Tech, another successful event for Sterling, was filled with amazing conversation and collaboration. Time-to-hire and conversion rate was still urgently top-of-mind for many Sterling booth visitors, but it was candidate identity and how technology could be leveraged to verify a candidate upfront, before screening, that seemed to be of new interest for this year’s conference-goers.

Those who are struggling to work with old technology, workflow paradigms, and “validation” products are now also struggling to onboard top talent, while searching for ways to optimize spend amid accelerated time-to-hire and budget constraints. Losing talent to other industry players is still a huge challenge, particularly within retail, staffing, and franchise industries.

Those who are proactively exploring new technology-enabled approaches are creating environments where they are able to onboard top available talent quickly, at a lower total cost, all while maintaining brands that have often taken decades to build. Ultimately, what is most exciting for me is the opportunity to interact face-to-face with my clients and prospective clients. I see myself as an extension of their staff, working as a true steward of their brands as we execute thoughtful, actionable ideas that help them take the next step with hiring top talent, enabling them to flourish in this extremely competitive environment.

Steve Waldvogel, Enterprise Sales, Government & Education: A couple of the common themes I heard from attendees were tied to technology and time-to-hire. Many people shared the problems candidates face with their current vendor due to lack of a mobile-first platform. Candidates are often unable to easily navigate the portal and do not have the ability to attach supporting documents via upload or snapping a photo. Another common theme was turnaround times. Many people I spoke to were concerned about the turnaround time being delivered by their current provider, with standard criminal searches and verifications taking one to two weeks. With unemployment at a record low and candidates often having multiple job offers, the overall candidate experience is critical and shortening the time-to-hire is imperative to win top talent in this market.

Jeremy Day, Enterprise Accounts, Finance & Business Services: The biggest pain points I heard from companies using competitors were around speed of background completion and lack of support. These are two key items within a criminal background check program and should never be minimized. I believe Sterling’s vertical structure has helped in our quest to focus more on the client and their needs, and deliver fast turnaround times. We have always had great back-end technology, but now we’re leading the way in client support as well.

What should we be excited about in the hiring technology space?

Steve Waldvogel, Enterprise Sales, Government & Education: A common theme I saw among many of the exhibitors and heard from attendees was the focus on candidate experience and employee wellbeing. I think a lot of innovation and change in corporate culture stems from both the low unemployment rate and struggle for talent and retention, as well as the evolving world of remote work that many companies transitioned to during the pandemic. It was interesting to see new ways to reach candidates via SMS, and how organizations are engaging the workforce on their terms.

What HR product and service trends did you hear about?

Clyde De Couto, Director of Partnerships, Canada, Sterling Backcheck: While the HR Tech conference had many new innovative trends, solutions, and ideas, there was one main trend that stood out to me: the requirement for global solutions with regional expertise. With everything that has happened in the world of work over the last two years, geographical borders are no longer a limitation for organizations looking to acquire top talent. Since these borders no longer have to constrain where candidates are hired in a remote work environment, companies are often willing to secure the right talent from countries anywhere around the globe, and with that comes a requirement for global solutions. As this trend continues, vendors who support the HR Tech space will need to be able to adapt and offer solutions globally, while understanding the unique requirements of individual countries. Examples of these requirements include data privacy and residency, language requirements (for products and customer support), and industry-specific government policies. This trend has launched tremendous growth in the HR Tech space, and I expect that we will continue to see organizations growing their global footprint, through internal expansion and external acquisitions. I’m excited to see how things continue to evolve and truly grateful to be part of this exciting HR Tech ecosystem.

How do background screening and identity verification services play a role in addressing the broader challenges that companies today face?

Steve Waldvogel, Enterprise Sales, Government & Education: Whenever criminal background checks are discussed, identity is the unspoken — but critical — factor. For example, criminal records in the US are indexed by name and date of birth. Whenever I asked people at the conference where they get a candidate’s name and date of birth from, they gave me the same answer: they get it directly from the candidate. If a candidate mistypes their name or DOB, provides an inaccurate spelling of their name, or submits a false DOB, there’s a good chance an available record will not be found. But who validates that the name and DOB provided was correct? According to everyone I spoke with, the consensus was that nobody validates that information. Identity verification helps to solve this problem.

Final Thoughts

Our team had many valuable conversations on the future of background screening and identity verification, and about how Sterling’s people and innovations help our clients take the next step with their candidates. The Sterling team is looking forward to being back in Las Vegas in 2023 for the next HR Tech Conference!

Learn more about our background screening and identity verification services, and our extensive global integration partner ecosystem.

Sterling is not a law firm. 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.