Turn “Now Hiring” into “Hired!” with a few adjustments to your background screening program.

3 tips for shifting to a candidate-first mindset

No matter where you look today, “now hiring” signs are everywhere. Employers across nearly every industry are struggling to attract and hire qualified workers, which is forcing many to look for ways to make the hiring process as easy as possible on candidates. One place to start is with your background screening program.

The tables have turned, candidates are now in control.

In the grand scheme of things, employment is slowly rebounding as the country regains its footing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the most recent employment numbers defied expectations, with U.S. employers only adding 235,000 new jobs in September, a far cry from the 720,000 forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 In many cases, workers are voluntarily staying home for childcare reasons or because they’re scared of contracting COVID-19, while others have been content to sit on the sidelines and collect expanded unemployment payments made available through federal stimulus programs.

Employers are also dealing with other candidate issues. Ghosting, when candidates suddenly drop out of the hiring process and stop responding to recruiters, has become a thing, and the gig economy now offers workers good pay, plus autonomy and flexibility, creating stiff competition for traditional employers.

Simply put, the candidate mindset is shifting from “employer first” to “me first.” Knowing this, you must find ways to make your hiring and background screening process more engaging and streamlined if you want to attract, hire and retain quality candidates.

Background screening optimization is often overlooked.

On one hand, pre-employment background screening is the all-important “getting to know you” part of the hiring process that helps employers identify “good fit” candidates based on their education, experience, professional credentials, references and more. However, the process of acquiring these critical insights can sometimes generate friction in the hiring process due to communication gaps and lengthy waiting periods. Hiring friction is the last thing you need in today’s ultra-competitive recruiting environment.

Here are a few tactical adjustments you can make in your background screening process to minimize friction and foster a more engaging candidate experience from start to finish.

  • If you don’t already offer mobile access, do it now. In 2020, for the first time ever, more candidates used mobile apps to apply for jobs (61 percent) compared to those who used a desktop computer (39 percent).2 Clearly, mobile is a preferred mode of engagement for many candidates, especially younger audiences, which makes it a must-have background screening option.

Apart from quickly engaging candidates in your screening process, a mobile app keeps them engaged with real-time background check updates and text messaging capabilities should they run into issues.

Adding mobile access to your existing online process enables you to provide candidates of all ages and backgrounds with multiple touchpoints and experiences that align with their preferences, further distinguishing your organization as candidate-friendly.

  • Identify and address pain points in the process. All parts of a background check are important, but some components are more involved, which means they can slow down the process. Two common culprits are verifications and drug testing.

Many small and mid-sized employers perform their employment and education verifications in-house; however, verifications are nuanced tasks that are best left to professional background screening companies. Apart from delivering much faster and more consistent, complete results, background screening providers offer a dedicated team of trained verifiers to help ensure compliance with evolving state laws that restrict what you can and can’t ask during the verification. It’s a pro-candidate process that can help speed up hiring and ensure more equitable experiences and outcomes for all candidates.

Drug testing has come a long way, moving from a tedious paper-based process to a sleek, highly automated process. Yet, candidates are still required to visit the collection site and deal with the “ick-factor” of submitting a specimen. If possible—meaning, you’re not in a DOT-regulated industry or restricted by state laws—consider moving to a less intrusive instant test to speed up the process. There are several FDA-approved instant devices available for the testing of saliva, hair and urine. This switch can shave days off your hiring process, and it can be more convenient for both candidates and employers, which makes it worth investigating.

  • Consider conditional employment. There are times when you need to quickly hire employees, but their background checks aren’t complete. It was a big issue during the height of the pandemic, when offices and schools were closed, making it difficult to verify critical candidate information in a timely manner. Anytime you’re competing for top talent, or you need to onboard employees fast, consider making a conditional employment offer, pending the results of their background check. This keeps candidates engaged and puts them to work quickly—before they have a chance to accept a job with a different employer. In turn, you retain the option to release them if their background checks results don’t align with your hiring standards.

To determine which screening components should be completed prior to making a conditional employment offer, work closely with your background screening provider, as they can offer expert guidance and helpful benchmarks from other employers.

As the holiday hiring season quickly approaches, now is the time to adjust your background screening program. Implementing a few smart modifications today can position your business ahead of other employers in the eyes of discriminating candidates by streamlining how you engage and hire them—a big win for your business and your candidates.

For more ideas on how to optimize your background screening process—including simple strategies that don’t involve added costs—get in touch today.

1 August Job Growth Disappoints (shrm.org)

2 https://www.prweb.com/releases/covid_19_impact_on_recruitment_mobile_apply_rates_overtake_desktop_for_the_first_time_ever/prweb17748001.htm