It’s never too late in the year to make a new resolution. And here’s one you will be glad to keep: Upgrade your hiring process to yield a higher quality workforce. Here we offer 6 ideas that can help you achieve this goal – and keep you on the right side of compliance requirements.
1. Avoid blanket exclusions.
A seemingly ‘quick fix’ to avoid a bad hire is to implement a blanket background screening policy that automatically excludes people based on an easy-to-measure factor like criminal records or years of experience or level of education.
Increasingly, blanket exclusion policies are viewed as discriminatory, and legal action may be brought against employers who take this route. You may defeat one of these lawsuits, but it would be costly.
While there are jobs where a hard and fast rule for exclusions exists, such as rejecting applicants for law enforcement jobs if they have a criminal conviction, it is a good rule of thumb to avoid them. Your hiring process should be built around screening applicants for their qualifications based on job-related criteria. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the risks that exist with a job or an applicant. Rather, the process should aim to evaluate the individual fairly for his or her own circumstances, and how they do or do not fit the job at hand.
Your screening process should be designed to find good individuals. For example, looking at individual ex-offenders using multiple job-related criteria can sometimes result in excellent workers whose criminal record is irrelevant to the job in question—and clearly identify the truly risky ones.
2. Look at the whole applicant.
Expanding on the point above, you don’t necessarily want to run every possible kind of background check on every applicant for every role—it’s unaffordable. But using a mix of inquiries, including interviews, specific background checks, resume verification, and possibly other methods, can help round out the character and fitness for a specific job that no focus on any one factor can. That perfect-sounding PhD with 20 years experience may be too good to be true.
3. Avoid the social media minefield.
Social media looks like an inexpensive way to get the goods on a job applicant. After all, it’s personal information provided without coercion, and could be the “true” picture.
Unfortunately, using social media information the wrong way can lead to serious problems, even legal difficulties (people have sued over this). Social media may provide some kinds of information that is useful, but it is advisable to keep it in a professional background check process (here’s our post on using social media in employment).
The flash point in social media is privacy. Courts have not finally settled the status of social media accounts in this regard, but remember this: once you look at a person’s social media information, you have already entered their private realm. And you cannot undo it.
4. Know the regulations governing background screening.
Employment law keeps many HR directors up at night for good reason. Building from the foundational 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibitions on discrimination in hiring, a plethora of rules and regulations has emerged that require employers’ compliance. Here’s a few you need to know well:
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): Based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, this agency defines, monitors and enforces anti-discrimination in hiring.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Every employer who uses third party agencies to research and report on consumers (including background checks) has to comply with the FCRA process for using this information.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Eligible employees may qualify for 12 weeks of leave under certain circumstances.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Employers must provide suitable accommodations.
5. Double-check your consistent compliance with FCRA.
The purpose of FCRA is to ensure that consumers are treated fairly based on the personal information about them that is found in consumer reports (including all background checks, credit reports, and so forth). To this end, the Act defines a process for who can access consumer information, how the consumer has to be informed about it, and what steps have to be taken when using the information to deny or exclude the consumer from something he or she wants.
The process is quite specific. Since the FCRA is sometimes invoked in civil action, savvy employers will want to set up applicant evaluation procedures (see our post on FCRA compliance tips) that are always in compliance.
6. Improve screening outcomes with automation.
There’s no need to make background screening an insurmountable chore for you or your applicants. Look for a solution that makes both the ordering and applicant consent process a breeze, with web-based signature capture, applicant-driven data capture, and integration with your existing applicant tracking or HRIS system. Technology has come a long way in ALL areas of HR. Background screening included. Take advantage of it.
Any good hiring process has a lot of moving parts. Adding these 6 steps can help to make it effective and fair.