Changes to Background Check Policies Triggered by Critical Hiring Need

What does the Great Resignation mean for pre-employment background check policies? Alternatively, perhaps the more pressing question employers are asking right now is this one: What should the Great Resignation mean for pre-employment background check policies?

Before we answer that question, let’s take a quick look back at the events that led us to this unique point in American history.

Two years ago, in April 2020, the economy felt the full brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unemployment rates hovering around a record low of 3.5 percent since the previous fall skyrocketed to 14.7 percent. Those rates stayed in the double digits for four consecutive months. Even by the end of the year, unemployment was still at 6.7 percent – nearly double than it had been 12 months before. In the throes of the pandemic’s most devastating economic storm, it didn’t seem confident that the economy or the job market would ever fully recover.

In 2022, things look almost impossibly different. In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics posted a 3.6 percent unemployment rate – the lowest that number has been since before the pandemic. At the same time, Americans are leaving their jobs in droves. 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021 alone – an all-time one-month record. In February 2022, another 4.3 million Americans resigned from their positions. The trend, called “The Great Resignation,” has created a historic shift in the job market and the American workforce. There may have never been a bigger “job seeker’s market” than the one we are currently experiencing.  

With so many workers leaving their jobs, almost every employer in every industry is hiring right now in some capacity. That fact, combined with the low unemployment rates, means that many employers are competing fiercely for a relatively small number of job seekers. This situation has given job seekers considerable leverage to negotiate salary, benefits, job flexibility, and other perks. Still, it has also left employers somewhat at the mercy of their prospective hires. No one wants to do anything that might drive a potential employee away.

This point leads us back to the initial question posed at the beginning of this post: What does the Great Resignation mean for pre-employment background check policies? According to AXIOS HR, many employers are tweaking their background check protocols or eliminating certain types of checks from the pre-employment vetting process.

There are several reasons why employers might view background checks as a stumbling block to effective hiring. For one thing, background checks take time, which is a luxury employers don’t always have in a competitive market. For another, the limited number of prospects seeking jobs right now has pushed employers to be more open than they once were to hiring people who wouldn’t have previously “passed” a background check. A four-year-old charge for public intoxication may have been a deal-breaker before, but an employer might look at it differently now that finding qualified hires is so difficult.

In particular, AXIOS says that employers are foregoing criminal checks with “long look-backs” and instead opting for ongoing criminal monitoring. Continuous monitoring is a service available through some background check companies – including – that routinely run background checks on existing employees. This strategy can help employers flag recent criminal charges or convictions as they happen, rather than overlooking anything that happens after the hire date.

At, our advice is that employers should continue hiring with all due diligence observed – including full pre-employment background checks. However, we also advocate strongly for the benefits of ongoing criminal monitoring, which is a valuable way to stay informed and avoid liability risks. Those benefits exist with or without a historically unbalanced job market.

To learn more, contact us today.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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