3D pie chart with percentagesFor the third year, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA, formerly known as NAPBS) conducted a survey of human resource professionals to gather opinions and processes being used in background screening.

The information found in the 2019 survey didn’t vary too much from the previous two years’ results, but there are still some questions worth pondering. This year’s survey released by HR.com and conducted by the hr.research Institute, titled “How Human Resources Professionals View and Use Background Screening in Employment” concluded that nearly all HR professionals conduct some type of employment screening. The findings revealed 96 percent of HR professionals surveyed perform one or more types of background checks for employment purposes. Of the four percent who answered “no” to that question, 20 percent of the respondents cited cost as the main factor in their decision not to screen. Overall, the information from the survey, which compared results to the past two years, did not change much.

Social media searches still not catching on

The survey only has results for the past two years for the social media search question, but 73 percent of participants answered “no” for both years when asked if they include some type of social media search in their employment screening process. There have been countless blogs and articles written about the subject of social media screening for employment, and several vendors offer the service, but still it doesn’t seem to be a popular component for HR professionals. Why? If HR managers are unsure of how to handle the searches regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act, they need not look any further than this article by the Federal Trade Commission. The answer is, social media searches and results should be treated like any other information found in a consumer report as it relates to the FCRA.

That still may have employers confused. What do they do with the information, what are they looking for exactly, and is there a policy in place for such information as it relates to adverse actions? Before employers rule it out because they don’t understand how to handle the information, they should take the necessary steps to see if it is worth the investment. As a consumer reporting agency, your job is to educate the client on the ins and outs of the search. Find out from your social media vendor what the search entails. Educate the employer that running their own social media searches may violate certain FCRA or EEOC regulations. If you don’t already offer social media as a product, check with thepbsa.org to find a vendor. It is easy to get started.

Education verifications take a downward turn

The survey also revealed the percentage of HR professionals who conduct education verifications dipped 12 percent from 2017 to 2019, from 53 percent to 41 percent, respectfully. We can only suspect that the unemployment rates may have some effect on this search component and its dip. As the unemployment rate has dropped each year for the past several years, the number of available workers has declined. Therefore, maybe this is one component that has not become as necessary to screen – for a couple of reasons.

Education verifications tend to have some of the longest turnaround times as far as components go. This tends to be truer at the high school diploma level and during the summer months when schools are closed. Verifying high school diplomas, or GEDs, in a time of low unemployment made not make the best sense, but your clients need to know the risks are still there if they don’t screen for education. Catching an employee who lies about a degree, whether it be a high school diploma or Ph.D., tells a lot about his or her character. The act of fraud is more telling than not getting the degree. Make sure your clients understand the importance of checking education to maximize fraud risk.

Drug and alcohol testing declines

Just as education screening has declined, according to the survey, so has drug and alcohol testing. From 2017 to 2019, the percentage of HR professionals who screen for this dropped from 45 percent to 32 percent. This could not only be due to the low unemployment rate, but also due to the rising number of states that have legalized marijuana. CRAs should make sure their clients are aware there are several other drugs for which it is worth testing candidates – cocaine, opiates, methamphetamines, amphetamines and more. If you notice your clients are cutting drug and alcohol testing from their screening programs, ask them why. Try to open a conversation about the value in screening for these substances. For example, if marijuana is an issue, then screen for the other drugs.