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Reconsidering the Role of Background Checks During Talent Shortages

By Michael Klazema on 8/29/2019

Employers often find themselves in the midst of a "talent crunch." One study estimates that there will be a shortage of talent of tens of millions of employees by 2030. Already, many companies report that they cannot easily identify talented, capable, and qualified candidates to fill a variety of positions. Adecco, a staffing agency studying these concerns, told a local CBS affiliate that the companies surveyed typically needed to interview as many as 15 candidates before filling a position. 

Persistently low unemployment rates don’t help employers attract talent. Seeking solutions, some businesses embrace looser restrictions on hiring. In these circumstances, someone with a criminal record is no longer automatically undesirable—instead, businesses take a closer look at exactly what a background check reveals before they make decisions. In some cases, when an applicant has old, non-violent, or minimally-relevant conviction in his or her past that appears unconnected to his or her capability to do a job, businesses may deem the applicant acceptable when they would not have done so before.  

Employer shifts may include scaling back other policies, too: applicants asking common questions of employers such as, “When do companies drug test, before or after hiring?” may encounter surprising answers during a talent shortage. According to a report by Fast Company, more businesses than ever are discontinuing drug screenings or significantly scaling them back. 

Per Fast Company, nearly half of businesses (49%) that were asked about their stance towards restrictive hiring policies based on background checks said that they were now relaxing those policies. Older drug convictions, for example, are now less likely to pose a barrier to employment. While violent felonies remain an automatic disqualifier in many workplaces, trends point to a shift towards greater attention to detail.  

In the past, any negative marks on a background check were enough to dismiss a candidate; there would always be another applicant, after all. Businesses are now recognizing that an individual with an imperfect background may have the skills and attributes necessary for their team's success—and companies can't afford to pass up the opportunity to acquire talent. 

 Though many businesses have felt pressure to re-evaluate how they weigh an applicant's criminal history during a talent crisis, background checks will not lose their place in the hiring process. Instead, many businesses are initiating a re-evaluation process regarding the specific information generated by a background check. This re-evaluation aligns with the rise of the "ban the box" movement, which advocates legislation that delays when and how employers may use background checks.  

With an economy that is far from static, dominant trends in the labor market shift rapidly. Businesses may experience the freedom to be more selective with whom they consider for hiring purposes as they respond to these changes in the future. In either hiring environment, maintaining the appropriate tools and procedures for effective pre-employment vetting is crucial.  

backgroundchecks.com supplies robust products purpose-built for companies that are fielding challenging applicant questions such as, “how long do drug tests and background checks take?” With options that include the instant criminal background check reports generated by our US OneSEARCH and convenient drug screenings, the right tools for a changing job market are ready for use right now. With a durable framework in place for making fully-informed hiring choices, businesses can prepare for the hiring challenges of today and tomorrow.


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