Employment checks: the definitive guide to ensuring the right hire

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Employment checks. From criminal background checks to right to work checks - they are widely seen as the backbone of ensuring a good hire. But for many, they are a stage in the hiring cycle that is still seen as clunky, time-consuming, and a burden on an already pressurized process. So, how can organizations ensure that their screening - a mandatory measure for many roles - becomes a seamless procedure and deliver the best results?

During the hiring process, every touchpoint with a candidate counts. Initially, the CV provides a fair overview of a person’s skill set, experience, and career progression. Then, the interview ascertains the type of person they are: their personality, manner, attitude, and their culture fit.

But despite hearing about their accomplishments, and insights into their hobbies, a whole facet of the candidate is impossible to detect in these interactions. How did they perform in their last role? Have they ever been in trouble with the law? Is there anything in their background that could prevent them from legally working in the organization?

Which is where the employment screening process comes in: an essential part of the hiring process that provides you with the insights and information needed to make a good hiring decision.

The Importance of Employment Checks

An office carrying out employment checks in a busy HR office

Employment checks are crucial for several reasons. They’re carried out by businesses primarily to ensure a safe and reliable workforce while protecting the interests of both employers and employees. But there are myriad reasons why organizations should implement an employment check program. Here are some key reasons why:

1. Safety and Security

As we’ve touched on, employment checks help identify any potential risks associated with hiring candidates. Background screenings can uncover criminal records, drug use history, and other concerning behaviors that may pose a threat to workplace safety. 

2. Protecting Company Reputation 

We’ve all heard stories of the impact of a bad hire. Bad things can happen in the workplace when the wrong person comes in - and the ensuing story can often end up in the press or social media. Hiring individuals with questionable backgrounds or fraudulent credentials can lead to reputational damage for the company. A major benefit of carrying out employment checks is that they help maintain the organization's reputation by ensuring that only qualified and trustworthy individuals are recruited.

3. Regulatory Compliance

In many industries such as finance and tech, there are specific regulations and legal requirements that mandate background screenings for certain roles. Conducting employment checks during the hiring process ensures compliance with industry regulations and reduces the risk of penalties or legal liabilities.

4. Fraud Prevention

Similarly, employment checks help prevent fraudulent activities, such as identity theft, resume fraud, or misrepresentation of qualifications, which can lead to financial losses and reputational harm. Most finance roles will be obliged to carry out background checks for this purpose - if you’re hiring someone to handle your business’s finances, it goes without saying that you’d feel more confident with a candidate who has no criminal record, rather than one who does. 

5. Talent Acquisition

Simply by conducting comprehensive employment checks, it provides the hirer with another layer of information to make well-informed hiring decisions and select the best-fit candidates. 

So not only does a screening process during hiring enhance the quality of talent acquisition but it also contributes to a more productive workforce.

6. Workplace Culture

Ensuring that candidates have the right qualifications and background aligns with the company's values and fosters a positive workplace culture built on trust and integrity. This sends a confident, reassuring message out to co-workers that all newcomers are checked and verified.

7. Risk Mitigation 

As well as insights into criminal conducts, employment checks mitigate the risk of hiring individuals who may be prone to misconduct or unethical behavior, reducing the likelihood of workplace conflicts and potential legal issues.

This can be in the form of reference checks, employment gap checks - even social media checks which can pick up on negative behaviour online. 

8. Avoiding Turnover Costs 

One of the impacts of a bad hire is the cost. A Recruitment & Employment Confederation report calculated the price for mis-hiring a mid-management professional on a salary of £42,000 at around £132,000. 

Conducting employment checks early in the hiring process helps identify red flags and prevent the hiring of unsuitable candidates, which can save costs associated with turnover and replacement.

Overall, employment checks provide invaluable insights into a candidate's background, allowing employers to make informed decisions that contribute to a safe, compliant, and productive work environment.

Why Ensuring the Right Hire is Crucial

A woman filling in her employment checks on her phone.

One of the key areas of a business’s success is getting in the right people. A workforce who have the right skills, good experience, and a great culture fit are an essential ingredient for any organization to reach its collective goals. 

For this reason alone, ensuring the right hire is crucial for the success and growth of any organization. Here are some key reasons why making the right hiring decisions is so important:

Productivity and Performance: The right hire brings the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to excel in their role, leading to increased productivity and better overall performance. A reference check will give you an indicator of the level of the candidate’s output from the point of view of previous managers. 

Cost-Effectiveness: As mentioned earlier, bad hires cost businesses. While a good hire poses less of a threat to the workplace, they will more likely be able to pick up processes more easily, work with co-workers more effectively and require training for shorter periods. Hiring the right candidate reduces turnover and the costs associated with recruitment, training, and onboarding new employees.

Positive Workplace Culture: With employee screening processes are mandatory in a business, they provide employees with the knowledge that newcomers will have all the requirements that the company has specified. This provides a culture of trust within the workplace, as the new recruit has a more seamless entry into the business. The right hire also aligns with the company's values and contributes positively to the workplace culture, fostering a harmonious and collaborative environment.

Reduced Risk: The wrong hire increases the risk of issues arising in the workplace. Risk mitigation is a huge focus in a business, and the right employment screening can support this. A well-qualified candidate is less likely to engage in misconduct, fraudulent activities, or unethical behavior, minimizing potential risks to the organization.

Customer Satisfaction: Good hires often equate to a happier workforce, which in turn - data shows - brings about a much greater customer experience. Skilled and engaged employees provide better customer service, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Long-Term Success: Bad hires tend not to stick around as long as a good hire. By hiring the right candidate, they tend to help support the long-term success of the organization, as they are more likely to be committed and dedicated to their role and the company's goals.

Team Cohesion: Most people have experienced a ‘bad hire’ in their team. They join the team, create issues, disrupt the workflow, behave erratically and offset the balance of the team. The right hire complements the existing team dynamics and fosters strong collaboration, leading to improved teamwork and collective achievements.

Managerial Efficiency: It goes without saying that bad hires increase the level of disruption within a team. Effort is then moved to focus on resolving issues and pursuing harmony. When managers have the right team members, they can focus on leading and guiding their team, rather than dealing with performance issues or constant turnover.

Reputation and Brand Image: There are countless stories of bad hires impacting company reputations - whether it’s criminal conduct, or the mistreatment of customers. Successful and effective employees positively impact the organization's reputation and brand image, attracting top talent and potential clients.

In conclusion, ensuring the right hire is essential for organizational success, employee satisfaction, and overall growth. Taking the time and effort to identify and select the most suitable candidates significantly impacts the company's bottom line and future prospects.

Understanding Employment Checks

Candidates can provide consent to carrying out employment checks on their phone

What Are Employment Checks?

In order to make an informed hiring decision, employers need insights into the candidates they have in mind for a role. Employment checks (also known as background checks or pre-employment screenings), are comprehensive investigations conducted by employers. The can be to verify the accuracy of information provided by job applicants (like an education check) and assess their suitability for a particular role (like a reference check). These checks involve gathering information from various sources to evaluate a candidate's background, qualifications, and character. 

Types of Employment Checks

Employment checks play a critical role in protecting the interests of both employers and employees. They help organizations make informed hiring decisions, maintain workplace safety, comply with industry regulations, and build a trustworthy and reliable workforce. Conducting thorough and lawful employment checks is essential in today's competitive job market to ensure the right candidates are selected for the right roles.

There are several types of employment checks that employers can conduct to gather information about job candidates and ensure they are suitable for the position. And as different roles require different insights, there is a wide selection of options when it  comes to background screening and checks. Employment checks typically cover a range of areas, including:

1. Criminal History: This is a verification check to ascertain whether the candidate has any criminal convictions or pending charges. It’s one of the most common checks in the hiring process.

2. Employment History: Many CVs contain fabrications, in fact over half of job seekers admit to lying on their CV at least once. Employment history checks confirm the accuracy of the candidate's work history, including job titles, dates of employment, and responsibilities.

3. Educational Background: Mandatory in some countries this check can validate the candidate's educational qualifications, such as degrees, certifications, or licenses and ensure diploma fraud has not taken place.

4. References: One of the most commonly used checks, reference checks require the contacting of previous employers or references provided by the candidate to gather insights into their work ethic and performance.

5. Identity Verification: CV fabrication could even include false identities. ID checks ensure the candidate's identity matches the information provided.

6. Credit History: In many roles, especially those relating to finance, it’s vital to assess the candidate's financial responsibility and creditworthiness, to avoid issues later down the line.

7. Drug Testing: Conducting drug screenings to ensure a drug-free workplace, especially in safety-sensitive positions.

8. Social Media Checks: A relatively new check, this trawls social media sites looking for public posts that may act as red flags and conflict with the role on offer. Reviewing the candidate's public social media profiles for any inappropriate or concerning behavior is often used in high profile positions, or roles in the public eye.

9. Professional License Verification: Confirms the validity and status of any professional licenses or certifications required for the role. Driving roles, operating machinery, or even positions that require the performing of non-surgical procedures will all require the presentation of genuine licenses.

10. Global Screening: Conducts checks on candidates who have lived, worked, or studied internationally to ensure compliance with global hiring regulations and assess any potential risks.

Employers may choose to perform a combination of these checks based on the nature of the job, industry regulations, and the specific requirements of the position. It is essential to conduct employment checks in a fair, consistent, and lawful manner, adhering to relevant privacy and employment laws.

Legal Considerations for Employment Checks

Employment checks for overseas workers are vital for businesses to remain compliant

One of the main motivations for organizations implementing employee checks as part of their hiring process is for compliance reasons. These will be rules within their industry and sector that mandate the running of checks, for example, FCA rules within the UK finance sector.

However, there are a host of other legal considerations to consider. When conducting employment checks, employers must be aware of and comply with various legal considerations to ensure they are conducting the screenings in a fair, transparent, and legal manner. Some of the key legal considerations for employment checks include:

1. Consent: At the beginning of the process, employers must obtain the candidate's explicit consent before conducting any background checks. The consent should be in writing and separate from the job application.

2. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws: Employment checks must not discriminate against candidates based on protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

3. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): If employers use a third-party screening company to conduct background checks, they must comply with FCRA requirements, such as providing disclosure and obtaining authorization from the candidate.

4. Government, State and Local Laws: Employers should be aware of any specific state or local laws that govern employment checks, as some jurisdictions may have additional requirements or restrictions.

5. Data Privacy Laws: Employers must handle candidate information with utmost confidentiality and comply with data privacy laws and regulations - these will differ from country to country, so ensure you choose a screening partner that can navigate global laws.

6. Accuracy and Transparency: Employers should ensure that the information obtained from employment checks is accurate, up-to-date, and relevant to the job requirements. If adverse actions are taken based on the results, candidates must be informed and provided an opportunity to dispute any inaccuracies.

7. Expunged Records: In some jurisdictions, certain criminal records may be expunged or sealed after a specific period. Employers should not consider or use such records for employment decisions.

8. Ban the Box Laws: Some jurisdictions have "Ban the Box" laws that restrict employers from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history on job applications or during the initial stages of the hiring process.

9. International Considerations: If conducting global background checks, employers should be aware of different data protection laws and regulations in each country and ensure compliance with them.

10. Periodic Reviews: Employers should periodically review their employment screening policies and procedures to ensure they remain up-to-date with the latest legal requirements and best practices.

By following these legal considerations, employers can conduct employment checks in a manner that is lawful, ethical, and respectful of candidates' rights and privacy.

The Employment Screening Process

An in-house employment screening process can be a burden for a busy hiring department

The employment screening process will include fundamental steps that should not be overlooked. Whether this practice takes place in-house or the organization outsources the service, it’s recommended that the entire procedure is digital, easy to use, and carried out in such a way as to minimize time to hire.

Step 1: Preparing for the Check

Once the candidate has been selected for the role in question, the checks can take place. However, before these are actioned, consent must be received from the candidate in question. Without obtaining consent, no checks can be carried out.

Step 2: Verifying Employment History

There are a number of methods to obtaining the stated history of employment. The most common - and foolproof - way is to contact the organisations mentioned. Most employment history checks will verify the company, the dates of employment, the name of the position, and the duties performed.

Step 3: Conducting Employment Reference Checks

Similarly, employment reference checks can be manual or automated checks which contact the referees provided. The questions posed will differ, but often ask about the individual’s duties, their behavior, their attitude towards work, their impact on the organisation, and the manager’s opinions of them.

Step 4: Performing Employment Verification

Employment verification can take anything from two days to two weeks to complete, depending on the speed of the respondents. Whatever software is used for the employee checks will have certain criteria that can be ticked off as the information comes in.

Step 5: Analyzing Employment Screening Results

Ultimately, the results speak for themselves. While no hire should be processed before the full information is received, once they do come through, the screening software will raise any risk factors in order for the hirer to make an informed decision. 

This process can be black and white - ie, if two negative references come through, the hirer may be inclined to withdraw the offer. However, there are circumstances where it is up to the business’s discretion - should a driving violation that comes up in a criminal record check influence the decision to hire a graphic designer who works from home? The outcome will depend on the type of role and sector - as well as the results that come through from a full comprehensive employment check.

Benefits of Employment Checks

Employment checks have many benefits - particularly for maintaining a happy, safe workplace

Background screening isn’t just a mandatory or recommended measure. There are real-world benefits to carrying out employment checks - for both the employer and the workplace. Wondering why you should implement employee checks into your preboarding experience? This  extra layer of insight can provide you with the following: 

Ensuring Candidate Qualifications

While a high school diploma might not make that much of a difference to a role in retail, if you’re hiring an accountant to manage the books of your business, the education credential check is not only peace of mind, it’s proof that your hire has the skills to do the job efficiently. In fact, any skilled role will require some form of qualification, whether that’s a license to be a forklift truck driver or a degree in law to be a barrister.

Mitigating Hiring Risks

Many candidates may seem impressive on paper and during interviews, projecting confidence and ambition. However, it is essential to determine if they genuinely possess the qualifications they claim. Excitement builds during the hiring process, but verifying candidates' credentials is crucial to ensure they are a perfect fit. Whether it's entry-level applicants overstating their experience or high-level employees exaggerating their achievements, a thorough background check is necessary to validate their claims and make informed hiring decisions.

Protecting Company Reputation

In today's digitally connected world, job seekers, customers, and investors have constant access to information. A dissatisfied employee can swiftly share sensitive information or negative feedback about your company online, posing a risk to its brand and reputation. If you've experienced the consequences of a poor hiring decision, it's crucial to closely monitor your workforce and their morale, as others may have been affected, potentially leading to additional challenges within the organization.

Maintaining a Safe and Compliant Workplace

A primary objective of post-employment screening is to create a secure work environment. Employers need to proactively identify individuals with criminal records or who may pose a potential threat to the workplace by regularly reviewing the history of current employees and taking appropriate actions to safeguard their organization. By conducting thorough background checks on potential hires and periodically rescreening existing employees, employers can identify individuals with criminal histories or behavior that may pose a risk to the organization. This helps prevent potential incidents and fosters a secure work environment for everyone. 

Background screening ensures that the company complies with legal regulations and industry standards, mitigating the risks of negligent hiring and potential liability issues. Overall, background screening is an essential tool in creating a safe and compliant workplace.

Best Practices for Conducting Employment Checks

Ensuring you use best practices for employment screening is vital for business

So your organization has decided to implement a background screening program. What are the best practices to follow for this type of process? 

Utilizing Reliable Screening Services

If you’re partnering with a screening provider, it’s vital that you ensure they have all the attributes to provide you with a professional service, that both ticks your service level requirements and your legal obligations. But what kinds of things should you be looking for when you go to market for a new background screening service?

Compliance with Legal Requirements

Be mindful of your industry’s regulatory requirements - what roles should you be screening for, and what roles do you need to screen for? What checks are mandatory? Is there a specific process for ensuring the validity of these checks? Is your screening partner an accredited partner for these checks? Understand the rules around compliant hiring in your industry, sector, and country. Selecting the wrong screening company could result in huge penalties down the line.

Confidentiality and Data Security

Opting for outsourced background checks relies on a third party to handle sensitive personal information, raising potential apprehensions about data security and unauthorized access risks.

Examine the data security protocols employed by your organization and potential outsourcing partners. Guarantee that sensitive personal data will be treated with utmost confidentiality and securely, irrespective of the background screening approach adopted.

Fair and Ethical Practices

To establish an equitable and inclusive screening process, begin by defining your hiring criteria. These criteria should encompass the necessary qualifications, experience, and skills for the job. Ensure objectivity and job relevance, avoiding biases towards specific groups of individuals.

By implementing essential background checks, organizations can actively combat bias in the hiring process. Thorough background screenings provide valuable insights into a candidate's past employment, education, and criminal history, enabling a comprehensive evaluation of their suitability for the position.

Integrating background checks into the hiring process ensures an impartial assessment of all candidates, promoting fairness and objectivity. Alongside other best practices, such as establishing clear hiring criteria, forming a diverse hiring team, employing objective assessment methods, accommodating candidates with disabilities, and providing diversity and inclusion training to the hiring team, background checks significantly contribute to designing a just and inclusive hiring process.

Conclusion

So what are the key takeaways of establishing a successful employment check program. Whether it’s in-house or outsourced, it’s essential to understand the rules and regulations of your industry and the employment laws of your country.

Next up, ensure you’re screening for the right checks. Do the background checks you’re carrying out for your candidates have any relevance to the roles that they’re applying for? Aside from the mandatory checks - criminal background, education verification, right to work, etc - do your data entry staff really need an adverse financial check? Does your financial crime analyst need a social media check? Ensure the employment checks are suitable for the positions you’re hiring for.

Thirdly, are the check results coming through in time with your hiring schedule? Hiring is a pressurised environment, with many moving parts to the process. Ultimately you need employment screening to be ticking away in the background, rather than playing the main role. Be mindful of your turnaround times - delayed checks could result in your losing the perfect hire to your next competitor.

Introducing Veremark's Solutions

And it’s for these reasons that the world’s best workplaces choose to partner with Veremark. Working with growth companies and large enterprises, our screening solution is ideal for any organization that needs support in pre-hire screening and employee rescreening, wherever they are in the world, and wherever they need to hire.

Benefits of Using Veremark

There are many benefits to using Veremark, including: 

Worldwide: Our global hiring service means you can hire anywhere - from Honolulu to Hong Kong - and remain 100% compliant with local employment laws and industry compliance requirements.

Expert service: Our screening experts can help you create the right employment check program for your organization, ensuring that you’re getting the right insights for your hiring decisions. Working around the world, in a range of verticals, and in every conceivable role, Veremark can trim the fat from your program ensuring you get the right checks every time.

Speed: Our fully digital experience means faster turnaround times. Not only is our screening platform easy to use for organizations, it provides excellent candidate experience, meaning your checks come through quickly and accurately.

UX: The Veremark platform has been created in such a way as to create an easy, intuitive experience for the user. Our software integrates in existing HR workflows allowing a seamless way of working, as updates, prompts, and results all meet in the same place.

Candidate experience: Despite the significance of candidate and employee experience, a staggering 82% of employers tend to overlook its impact on their company. Perhaps the reason for this oversight lies in the fact that the immediate returns on this investment are not readily evident. Nevertheless, a telling example from Virgin Media demonstrates the tangible consequences of neglecting candidate experience: they discovered a loss of $6 million in potential sales revenue annually due to a subpar candidate experience. This underscores the undeniable link between candidate experience and a company's bottom line. 

At Veremark, we’ve made the candidate experience as easy and intuitive as possible, ensuring all requests can be carried out on a mobile device, ensuring speedy and completed responses.

How Veremark Simplifies Employment Checks

Veremark has revolutionized the background screening process, ensuring not only efficiency but also accuracy. No longer do you need to sift through convoluted reports or investigation summaries – Veremark presents data in a clear and concise manner.

With Veremark's background screening software, comprehensive reports provide all the necessary information to make informed hiring decisions. These reports can be easily shared via links or PDFs, both during the hiring process and throughout an employee's tenure.

Data security is a top priority for Veremark, and their use of blockchain technology ensures the protection of your company's and candidates' data. The Career Passport, a secure information system, can be updated for future employment positions, guaranteeing seamless adaptability.

Integrating Veremark into your existing workflow through major ATS systems streamlines the screening and hiring process, delivering faster results that can be seamlessly added to employees' previous history.

Moreover, Veremark offers a cost-effective pay-as-you-go model, allowing you to scale up or down as needed. Whether you're hiring a dozen employees or obtaining employer references for a thousand, Veremark's pricing remains flexible and practical.

With Veremark's user-friendly dashboard, you gain clarity and ease of use. No more worrying about delayed responses from traditional background check companies – Veremark ensures a smooth and efficient process, saving time and resources. Your hiring decisions are in good hands with Veremark's cutting-edge screening solutions.

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FAQs

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FAQs

What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

Transform your hiring process

Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.

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