3 Ways Background Screening Agencies Can Thrive in Uncertain Times

In one of the quickest shake-ups in modern history, nearly every company in the world is reevaluating their hiring needs and practices. Some have made the heart-wrenching decision to let people go. Others are ramping up recruiting efforts and preparing to grow, with access to remote talent that they weren’t able to engage before. Regardless of the individual situation a company is going through during these harrowing times, one change is for certain: in an increasingly globalized, digital-first workforce, the way we get to know our employees will never be the same.

As the “picks and shovels” of the hiring market, background screening firms are also experiencing unprecedented change. With more than 85% of the global background screening market as clients, we have been deep in discussion, talking about what the future might look like for those of us involved in talent screening. We’re finding that there are three key things that consumer reporting agencies are looking for as we prepare to come out together on the other side of this pandemic.

3 Emerging Priorities for Consumer Reporting Agencies

A Comprehensive Understanding of Job Candidates

As millions of workers enter or re-enter a more remote workforce—some who have not transitioned jobs in a very long time—it has become harder for companies to vet new hires. Given the geographic diversity of the modern workforce as well as widespread social distancing regulations, fewer employers will be able to rely on in-person interviews to assess whether their prospective candidate is a match.

Consequently, a growing number of employers are asking about ways to ensure they have a thorough understanding of their candidates, and any risk they may bring into the organization beyond a traditional criminal background or credit check. While there are reports of certain organizations taking this further than is necessary or respectful, most organizations are genuinely wondering what measures they can take to ensure their trust is well-placed.

New Channels for Business Partnership

Many consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) are also recognizing that the operating plans they used in the pre-COVID market may not sustain in the long term. For example, some historically profitable verticals, such as higher education screening, may be forever changed. But rather than seeking out new verticals, many in the industry are looking at ways that to increase the scope of their offerings to deepen existing relationships and stand out from the competition on RFPs.

We believe that this customer-first approach that responds to the inherent needs of the HR or talent acquisition executive may help CRAs move from screening vendor to business partner. While our clients are still undecided on the long-term impact of this crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear that value-based differentiation is key to remain competitive in today’s environment.

Cost Savings Through New Technology

With many new business initiatives on pause, savvy background screening providers are reevaluating their offerings, tech stack and partnerships to ensure long-term resiliency. Some are adapting current fulfillment processes to intermittent courthouse closures using new technologies, while others are shifting previously in-office work to the cloud. An emerging group of CRAs are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help reduce internal dependencies and lower the cost of delivery.

For example, CRAs that might have done social screening manually, or partnered with providers that are running cost-intensive human checks, are turning to software such as ours to increase the quality of output while reducing cost. For most CRAs, previous revenue guidance for Q2 2020 and perhaps even H2 is severely diminished. As such, the “big win” will come in the form of cost savings, gained in part through adopting new technologies.

As long as there is a workforce, there will be demand for background screening. Understanding what clients are looking for today and finding cost-effective ways to deliver on those needs can help background screening agencies not only survive in a pandemic but find new ways to thrive.