Articles & Blog

Shawn Rucks

Shawn Rucks

Like a rocket, Checkr flew from 0 to $120M in revenue from 2014 to 2016. They have a market valuation of $1B plus. They are now one of the most exciting, dynamic, and largest background check companies in the industry. How did they do this? They first focused on the niche market of the demand economy and the service workforce and they developed great technology to solve a lot of the pains of background checks through automation and a dramatically improved user experience. And they are just getting started. They continue to build their brand, improve technology and secure new rounds of financing to expand their operations. While Checkr made many improvements to the traditional background check process, there are shortcomings in their service delivery and you can have basically the same technology by going with a third party provider like deverus. If you want to compete head-to-head with Checkr, check out our tips below. Today you don’t only have to worry about competing against Checkr for new business, you need to worry about your current customer base not leaving for the new ‘shiny” thing Checkr is offering. Here’s how to do it.

1. Get Your Technology Up to Par

Without a doubt, technology has become extremely important in the industry. It runs almost every facet of a background check business. Checkr invested over $40 million to improve their technology. Most of it went to integrations, APIs, and improving the applicant experience through a mobile app and an applicant portal. They are also focusing on machine learning, AI, and creating new workflow solutions for HR. Do you have those kind of resources to invest in bringing your technology up to speed to compete against them now and in the future? Probably not. This is why it’s crucial to partner with a third party provider who focuses exclusively on the technology so you can focus on the competitive advantages below. Within weeks deverus can get you up to par with numerous ATS integrations, a mobile responsive applicant process, an applicant portal, as well as creative workflow automation and even machine learning and AI. With deverus, technology will no longer be a deficit, it will be a differentiator.

2. The Customer Comes First

If you head over to the BBB page for Checkr, you’ll find many disappointed applicants. Bad information and slow responses from Checkr create real problems for applicants and employees who need accurate, error-free background checks to gain or maintain their employment. Checkr seems slow to respond to applicants with errors in their background reports. If you want to compete with Checkr, it’s imperative that you work hard to provide accurate data and quickly correct any mistakes. One disgruntled applicant said he missed out on a month of work as he waited for Checkr to amend and correct bad information in his report. Both the employee and the employer lose out when bad information isn’t corrected quickly. If you can provide more responsive service to your clients, it’s easy to compete against Checkr and other background check providers.

3. Correct Mistakes Quickly

Another common complaint about Checkr is their responsiveness to complaints and requests for corrections. Mistakes happen, but you can differentiate yourself by providing faster and more effective corrections and amendments to your reports. It’s frustrating for both employers and applicants/employees when bad information makes it way into your background checks and reporting. If your firm can correct errors quickly and accurately, you can beat Checkr with good service and professionalism. Employers need current, accurate information to make good decisions. Checkr opens up a “blind spot” when they fail to provide amended and corrected reporting in a timely fashion. This is a crucial piece of the background check process, and it seems like Checkr hasn’t figured out their complaint resolution process yet.

4. Personalized, Professional Service

Checkr makes their money on volume, and they compete for business with affordability and convenience. If your firm can offer better service and focused customer support, you can outperform Checkr. Employers and applicants want to move past the background check process and get to work. If you provide accurate and effective reporting, you can beat Checkr with better service and better responsiveness. If you can’t compete on price, you can win new contracts with professionalism and a customer-centric approach to background checks. When you put your client’s needs first and provide outstanding service, you can beat Checkr at any price.

Checkr is an exciting new entrant to the background check industry, but they have weaknesses in their service delivery. By getting your technology to par and competing against them when it comes to service, you have a chance to win accounts or more importantly protect your current client base from attrition. If you can provide faster, more accurate, and more effective service, all while delivering the same technology, you can take business away from Checkr and maintain your current customer base.

Background checks help businesses and organizations make good decisions when it comes to HR and recruitment, but there are important rules and regulations to govern the process for employers and applicants. Whether your firm hires one person or thousands, it’s important to know your responsibilities. The Federal Trade Commission and the Fair Credit Reporting Act provide the framework for fair background checks and responsible use of this important hiring tool. Keep in mind that your state might have stricter rules than what’s laid out by federal authorities.

Applicant Privacy Matters

Although a typical background check relies partly on information in the public domain, HR professionals often require private or confidential information to make good decisions. The process of collecting and analyzing this data demands a high level of respect and professionalism. Certain information is prohibited from inclusion, and other details must be presented properly. Fairness and respect for privacy are “must-have” features of your background check process. Proper employment screening procedures will protect candidates’ rights and mitigate legal problems down the line.

Transparency for Candidates

The FRCA and other relevant state regulations lay out transparency rules for employers to follow. Whether you hire a candidate or not, you owe them a chance to correct possible errors in background reports. People with common names and other administrative errors are not uncommon, and you face penalties and other legal action if you fail to follow a transparent process. Depending on the state and your specific industry, these rules are crucial to a successful and smooth background check process.

Disclosure Rules for Employers

Before you use poor results from a candidate’s background check to make a hiring decision, it’s important to know your responsibilities under federal and state regulations. In most cases, employers must give applicants a “pre-adverse action disclosure” with copies of the reports and an explanation of their rights under the FRCA. If you decide to use the services of a background check firm or third party investigator, you owe your candidate a disclosure. Often the law requires this disclosure on a separate page not included in the standard employment application.

“Ban the Box” and State Laws on Reporting

Many US states, counties, and cities have so-called “ban the box” legislation that may affect your employments application and hiring process. The box is a reference to the traditional criminal history question found on many job applications. A simple “yes-or-no answer “about a candidate’s personal criminal history with broad language can create problems for employers and harm your candidate's’ right to privacy. If you live in a “ban the box” jurisdiction, you need to follow local guidelines for your employment applications and background checks.

No matter how big or small your organization may be, you need to be aware of the rules and regulations that govern background checks for your industry. Each case is unique, and you must follow all applicable laws and guidelines to ensure a smooth process without legal trouble.

Thursday, 23 March 2017 18:52

Noting User Experience in the Real World

Take a minute and think what you did today. You got up, made some breakfast, went and grabbed a coffee, answered some emails, grabbed lunch with a co-worker, met with a new client, and now are reading this over your afternoon coffee. Now think about this, when did you experience a user experience in real life? You do not think about it, but every time you order a coffee, or simply have an interaction with a company you are interacting with a user experience. Now imagine taking these interactions and putting them to paper, that is what this article will look at.

The simple interaction of putting something to paper is allows someone to not only remember the interaction, but will serve as a reminder of what went well and what went wrong. No matter how experienced in delivering top of the line user experiences to clients, a master will always strive to learn how to better their approach. Let’s take the morning coffee. Did you interact with a person, or through an app. How was that experience? Would you do it again, and how would you improve your experience for the customer. This is all key to delivering the best to your customers from your own business's perspective.

Moving to your lunch date with your co-worker, this is going to be easier to engage in the user experience in which you experienced at the restaurant. From the moment, you saw the establishment is where the user experience began. The ambience, the entrance, the hostess taking you to your seat, it is all essential to the overall user experience in this establishment. If it went badly, you need to note why you felt that way, and in which ways you would improve your experience to better your own ideas. If you are thinking this way from a simple restaurant experience, imagine how a first-time customer would think of your site or business from the start. If you remember this, your end to end user experience will improve and customers will start to love your company, and the work that you do.

One thing that we forget to note from user experience is what made no difference, and this is where noting your own personal experiences with user experience will become key to your success. Nothing is worse than doing work, and it ended up utterly useless. Think back to the coffee and lunch, what thing did those establishments do that meant nothing to you. It might be a simple gesture, or just an interaction, but those interactions were a waste to you, and when it comes to your site that means meaningless work. Work to eliminate the waste, and deliver a user experience that lacks the meaningless, and simply packs a positive punch for your client base.

When it comes to user experience, we are living it every day. No matter if it is a positive experience, negative experience or one that is meaningless, the ability to note and adapt is going to be a difference maker in your line of work. Remember, learn from your environment and you will see success like no other.

Whatis.com gives the best definition of the “gig economy” when they say it’s “an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.” And, as the definition continues, a study by Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40-percent of American workers will be independent contractors.

This shift is taking place due to a number of factors including:

• So many jobs going to the mobile service economy
• Technology allowing people to work from anywhere
• Businesses cutting costs with contractors by using them “on-demand” without paying for office space, benefits, or other employee expenses.

The result is a lot of workers engaging in more short-term jobs, which require either more frequent background checks or a way to pre-check themselves for a current, valid authentication of their past.

The Impact On Background Check Companies

What does that mean for background check companies? Just ask Checkr, a mobile background check service, who claims $120M in revenue last year after only two years in business with a valuation heading North of $1B.

How many traditional background check companies in business for over 20 years can make that claim? Checkr embraces and thrives on the gig economy with clients like Uber, Grubhub, Postmates, and Instacart.

In my worldview, if you can’t beat them, join them. There is a lot of revenue left on the table for background check companies who don’t embrace the gig economy and this huge transformation of the workforce.

So, how you can a background check company capitalize on current technology and automation to deliver value to the gig economy to increase customer acquisition and improve revenue?

Solution: Offer Mobile Background Checks

1. Make the overall mobile experience better. Don’t underestimate the power of having a nice, well-designed, mobile responsive site that allows the candidate to easily navigate through the process.

2. Ask less of applicants ... not more. It’s proven the longer the process, the greater the drop-off rate. You need to have your UX team focus on only the most relevant and required information. This means you most likely will need to rethink on a business level what is essential and what is not. I know there are compliance, regulation, and auditing concerns, but you need to challenge those to make sure you are making it as easy as possible on the candidate and not just including the question because “everyone else does.”

3. Actually make it mobile. It is critical to make the application and background check process responsive so it fits on all screens. That way, the candidate doesn’t need to download an app just to engage with you, but it does look and feel like a mobile app. If done correctly, there should be no need to go to a desktop, which would take away from the immediacy of the process.

4. Leverage social media. Especially in the gig economy, attracting talent through social media platforms like Facebook and Linkedin is crucial. A lot of the gig economy is made up of millennials, which means HR can find them passively through social media. Take advantage of combining your processes with HR’s social media mobile recruiting strategy, such as including single sign-on with Linkedin. That way you can grab important information like education, present and past employment.

5. Support it with metrics. Give HR the data that shows the effectiveness of mobile background checks. You should have key analytics such as the number of applicants completing the process, speed to completion, and candidate satisfaction. These metrics will support more strategic spending on mobile in the future, benefiting your business.

The gig economy is not only here to stay, it’s growing at a rapid rate. Background check companies must adapt their business models to focus more on this monumental shift and how businesses are hiring and delivering the technology and services to take advantage of these changes.

Creating a better user experience on mobile, general usability improvements, and making it easier for applicants to apply on-the-go while allowing HR to initiate, manage, and analyze the process will go a long way in capturing new revenue and not leaving it on the table for up-and-coming background check companies who are seizing the opportunity with great balance sheets to show for it.

Tap into deverus’ Mobile Swifthire to optimize your mobile background check process. Visit deverus.com to schedule a demo.

Let’s face it, the background check process isn’t much fun these days. Ask anyone from the candidates to the hiring managers, Managed Service Providers, and even background check companies -- everyone has a story.

Most just roll their eyes and say, “it sucks.” Let’s think about this.

The Candidate

Applying for a job is a vulnerable experience but -- for the candidate -- the background check is especially stressful. Let’s start with the fact that background check companies are asking someone to fill out lengthy forms either online or on paper, listing sensitive information from Social Security number to date of birth, present and former addresses, personal and professional references, education and training information, and previous employers.

All of that information is channeled into a black hole (or a tornado, if you prefer that imaginary visual) that ultimately determines their employment fate, the future of their career, and their financial path that affects not just the job applicant but everyone connected to them -- friends and family to neighborhoods and communities.

Through all this, there’s this secrecy that adds to the stress of the applicant. There’s typically no transparency in the process and legitimate questions around protecting private information and lack of disclosure need to be raised.

The entire process needs an upgrade, with the applicant in mind.

Hiring Managers

Studies have shown that the amount of companies doing background checks on employees has increased from 20 percent in the early 1990s to 95 percent today. It’s important to remember that, for human resources, the background check simply represents a checkmark between them and hiring a candidate.

It is a very important check, but is also a process loaded with friction that can arrive at any point in the system: getting the correct forms and paperwork to the candidate, delays in preparation, manual entry challenges, uncertainty about submissions, and much-needed oversight.

Hiring managers have so much on their plate already to get the right candidate through the application process. Having to deal with the uncertainty of a background check can bring overwhelming challenges that take considerable time away from other tasks.

Managed Service Providers

MSPs, ie., applicant tracking systems, almost always have an integration with one or many background check companies. Because of their position in the hiring process, they are primarily the front-end for the hiring manager’s workflow. They are responsible for gathering the necessary information, providing statuses, and delivering results. But they rely on the background check company and have the same problem as the applicant in that the information goes in a black hole with almost no transparency around the process.

Frequently, the background check is delayed, needs more information, or comes back with results that are not understood, which leaves the MSP with the responsibility of reviewing, untangling, and explaining the problems.

This is a real challenge since typically they normally know very little about the process themselves. Using a background check company puts the satisfaction of their customer out of their control.

The Background Check Company

Even for the background check company, the very essence of their business model -- providing valuable hiring decision information quickly, accurately, and compliant -- can be a legal and logistical nightmare.

This is because the demands of their value proposition require constant communication to information sources, stringent quality assurance processes, efficient workflow management and as much automation as possible. But the reality is that most background check technology is outdated or even manual when it comes to order processing, information collection, quality assurance, and communication.

Background check companies work very hard to satisfy the demands of the market, but by the very nature of the process (and usually their unwillingness to innovate and automate), they make the process even more cumbersome. This creates time constraints and in worst cases, is less compliant with federal, state, and local laws.

The Solution

We know there’s a better way and that’s why deverus' mission came into being. Through technology, great user experience, and innovation, we now offer our clients a background check experience that doesn’t suck.

User Experience

The solution starts with the background check company. Unfortunately, they are notorious for having terrible User Experience (UX). Most of their technology, processes and UX come from regulations and compliance while using software designed and built in the early 2000s.

For the most part, they have not thought through how to make their system and processes easy to use for anyone. Today, only a handful of companies like Checkr and Goodhire really understand how to make the system flow. The results are Checkr growing from a startup to $120M in revenue in just two years with a $1B valuation.

Background check companies must embrace the fact that times are changing. For the new generation entering the workforce as well as those moving into management positions, great design and usability is a standard, not an exception. If you don’t create a better hiring experience, then this talent will look for someone who does.

Mobile Optimization

In order to help the background check companies, deverus’ focus is on providing cutting edge mobile experiences. This system provides ordering and viewing results to improve candidate satisfaction, increases speed to hire, develops communication tools through SMS and voice AI, and creates seamless, push-and-pull integration technology.

This responsive system is full of monitoring and process transparency, as well as user-designed solutions that automate manual tasks like order processing and distribution, status checking, quality assurance and results automation.

By creating a better user experience, the process is simple, easy to use, and seamless, while providing speed, accuracy, and compliance for the hiring manager, and privacy, transparency, and disclosure for the applicant. Add to this the seamless integrations for MSPs and automated workflow and compliance management for CRAs, and suddenly a background check experience doesn’t suck anymore.

Normal, everyday challenges will still arise in the hiring process, but these challenges are significantly easier to identify and properly manage.

Your customer relations assistants and other sales staff have many tools to make a sale, but we often let conversations focus heavily on price above all else. Depending on your line of business, your customers may be highly price-sensitive, but you can still differentiate yourself beyond pricing. It’s up to you to enable the right conversations and help your CRAs steer the discussion into the right territory to make a sale. With the right plan and sales support in place, your team can achieve great results and move the conversation beyond price. Check out some simple strategies below that you can use within your own organization.

One of the first things to train your CRAs to do is answer the questions “how much will it cost?” and “what’s the price here?” among many others about your pricing. Ideally, your CRA will already have some groundwork done to promote the benefits and value of your products and services before the discussion turns to cost. It’s important to answer truthfully.

Don’t give off-the-cuff answers if you don’t have all the information. Learn more about the specifics before you cost a job. The first price impression is important. Always remember the adage: under-promise, over-deliver. Tell your CRAs not to get the sale by firing off quick prices out of thin air. That doesn’t help anyone. Whether your sales cycle is 20 minutes or 20 months, there’s no need to shoot from the hip on price.

Use your clients’ questions about price to probe and learn more information about their needs. Is cost the most important thing? Are they concerned about quality? Most people want the best value instead of only the top quality or lowest cost. Finding the right mix of products and services to fulfill all the clients’ needs is the goal for your CRAs. It’s often not all about price, but your customers might not know the right questions to ask. It helps to remind your CRAs that they are the experts and it’s their job to help the client along the process to find the right solution.

It always pays to be professional, and closing sales is no exception. Don’t rush the process or rely on quick lowball offers just to get some revenue flowing. Even in a high-pressure sales environment, it’s important to tell your CRAs that they can take their time to build trust and develop a relationship. Unless your clients demand pricing information up front, your CRAs should use the first part of the sales discussion to uncover the client's’ needs and provide solutions before you talk dollars and cents.

If a client needs a definite answer, you often need more information that you can get in the first sales discussion. Don’t be afraid to get back to them after you take your time to develop a proposal or learn more about your internal costing. People much prefer the right answer over the fast answer. It’s always tempting for salespeople to be pushy to close a deal with a customer right in front of them, so it’s up to you to foster the right skills to deliver good results. You need profit to survive, and your clients will respect that if you communicate your value in the right way.

Identify The Problem

One significant problem with background check companies’ (CRAs) business model today is they’ve been given a backseat to the hiring process. The driver today is Applicant Tracking Systems and HRMS, or in broader terms, MSP (Managed Service Providers). They more or less steer the relationship.

If CRAs don’t find a way to change this dynamic and get back in front of the hiring process, they’ll soon see a loss in customer loyalty and revenue. The MSP then ends up taking their business.

Being a major platform provider for CRAs with over 70 integrations to MSPs for over 300 end user companies from Exxon, United Airlines, UPS, Walmart, Target, Autonation, and more, we see the daily challenges our customers face from all aspects. We have identified the problem in the declining influence in the hiring process when compared to MSPs.

Here are examples:

A new hiring manager comes on the job from an established company with past relationships and soon you need to have an RFP response because they are reviewing their vendors for companies already integrated into MSP X. You don’t have that integration, but guess what competitor x does because of the previous relationship. Who’s going to win that one?

Your best salesperson has been working hard to land a decent account. They get to the final stages and and the client agrees that if the MSP will integrate, they will switch to you. But the MSP either closes down the conversation or prolongs the implementation time to make it unfeasible for a vendor switch. They have this amount of control over the hiring process: even if an end user client wants to switch, the MSP has the means to delay or prevent it.

You’ve had this great, profitable customer for 15 years. You’ve invested a lot of time and money into an integration with MSP X, but they find a new one more suited to their industry needs with hiring and you don’t currently have an integration with them. But guess what, that new MSP already has a preferred background check company that can do everything you do, with a proven track record and is eager for the business. What can you do?

The point is that CRAs have to face the fact that they are losing control, visibility and influence on some of their most important, profitable relationships. Today, HR can change on a dime, choose another MSP as well as change vendors. It’s getting that easy.

And believe me, the MSPs want it that way. They are eagerly looking for ways to monetize that relationship and controlling the vendors at an arm's length is perfect for them. Because they can drive down price, threaten to change, and ultimately own the relationship with the human resource department even closer than they do now.

It’s all about increasing revenue, control, and market share.

Either the MSP is picking a few preferred vendors and really pushing their services with some nice revenue share built in. In this scenario the MSP stands to gain not only by revenue share arrangements, but by also getting to go downstream with their marketing to utilize existing relationships with the CRAs and gain more customers. The more preferred vendors the MSP has, the more opportunity to gain more customers and revenue share.

The second scenario has been for an MSP to pick one preferred vendor, integrate very closely and push this vendor to their clients. The advantage is a more cohesive process, less headache for the MSP, and a chance for larger revenue share for being exclusive. This of course is better for the CRA but less frequent because of the dynamics of the marketplace, and competition demanding multiple providers. We do have this scenario with one client. They are the exclusive provider to a major, vertical focused MSP and they are very successful. Still, the CRA does not have as much influence with the hiring process. The end users (some Fortune 500s), are loyal to the MSP. If they decide to change one day, it will be easy because we’ve helped them build a very flexible, repeatable integration that can rapidly take on new customers. All they need to do now is have another CRA create the integration, then point it their way. This would be a significant blow to our customer who is growing around 40 percent at the moment.

But then there’s this third BIG thing. From our unique vantage point as a platform provider we are seeing something else; numerous MSPs coming to us wanting to get in the business. Make no mistake, I mean MSPs wanting to purchase a background check platform so they can do the background checks themselves. Why not? Using a third party platform like deverus they can quickly, efficiently, and effectively get into the business with little upfront cost and rapid ramp up time. In a world where margins are thin, marketing and customer acquisition is expensive and competition is fierce, it’s an easy source of increased revenue and profit. With all the interest we’ve came across, we know they are smart, in a lot of cases heavily funded. They see the opportunity and are quick to respond.

Successful CRAs need to know this threat from the MSPs is real. If the trend continues, which most likely it will, they stand a big chance of either being replaced by another preferred vendor, forced to lower cost and margins, or risk losing their business to a MSP. So what are the options for CRAs?

Some will do nothing

Companies can ignore the changing marketplace and do nothing, but they won’t be in business for very long. This unfortunately, seems to be the strategy of many small CRAs who find it hard in theory to mount the marketing, sales and technical resources needed to play in the MSP integration marketplace. They are forced downstream and take on smaller business with some higher margins but more customer support and resources. This seems like a compromise and safe but it’s not because MSP are also going downstream.

Consider BambooHR, a company that created a $100 million dollar business by serving very small businesses. They make it so easy and affordable it’s a no brainer. They grew to $100 million without even offering background checks on their platform. Until now. They recently began researching the industry and are planning a big move into the background check space. So stay tuned; the threat here is that even if you do nothing and take the slim pickings of small businesses you are not safe because overnight an MSP can take your clients and either move to a preferred vendor or do the background check themselves.

One-off It

You can do like most background check companies and “one-off” your integrations in a reactive fashion hoping to retain customers and eventually get new ones with this one integration built to MSP X. The challenge is in order to do “one-off” integrations you need to have technical resources, a lot of time and patience, and hope that the integration will eventually pay off. We’ve seen many cases where a CRA will pay for the integration and the number of applicants didn’t materialize. This brings up another problem. We are seeing CRAs invest in riskier integrations with newcomer MSPs in hopes of more business. This is because most larger, established MSPs already have their preferred vendors.

Partnering

You can do what smarter, larger background check companies are doing and partner with ATS. You’ve still lost that primary relationship with HR and as loyal as the MSP seems, they will eventually want more revenue share and can threaten to move to another provider. It’s also getting harder because again, most MSPs already have preferred vendors and they are usually with the larger background check companies.

Build Your Own

Yes, build your own MSP. We’ve created one called Vero Hire and our customers actually see a lot of success in retaining at least their smaller customers. The trick is to have just enough features and functionality to make them want to stay. This is hard because so many MSPs offer services ranging from benefits, payroll, performance reviews, and more. With this strategy we are basically fighting for smaller businesses and less revenue, but on the other hand, small businesses make up most of America’s economy, so there’s the logic.

Sell Other Services

We think this is the most viable of all options: creating new value-added options to fit the growing needs of the hiring process. It takes technology innovation, as well as marketing and technology resources. Yet, it’s an important strategy to secure existing revenue and build business. Some of these new services include mobile recruiting. The CRA offers a great mobile hiring experience for background checks, job posts and easy to use employee applications. Communication tools for the hiring process like text, voice AI, and smart notifications. An applicant portal where candidates can communicate directly with the CRA to check status, dispute records, fill in missing information, and get copies. All this plus services like I-9, drug screening, assessments, and exit interviews, and you’re offering real value.

Most CRAs have problems with integration because there are too many (?) to get into the system, the time it takes to implement, the resources to maintain them, and lowering margins. This a symptom, not the root problem. The biggest problem is the CRA’s place in the process. CRAs need to continue with integrations while finding new ways to go upstream to provide more services and value to the hiring process.

Friday, 10 February 2017 00:00

Why I Like Working With Millennials

Let’s face it Millennials have been getting a really bad wrap. I admit it, for a while I was reluctant to hire millennials based on the bad press and stories I had heard from business peers. We know the accusations; laze, entitled, lack focus, determination, want a reward for showing up to work on time, want everything now, not willing to be put through the paces of learning and experience, on and on.

So when we began turning our business model towards mobile and the best user experience, who could I turn to? That’s right. These kids know mobile, they know good design, they are passionate about it, and they know new technology and services like it’s nobodies business!

Why is this?

It’s because as we all know we are in a time of change, in the 1990’s and 2000’s we witnessed a technological revolution that has influenced those who are now joining the workforce. This group has been touted as the millennials, and as such, have different ideals and goals than their predecessors. No longer do they only strive for a house with a white picket fence and a stable job for their career. In today’s world these young people are looking to break through on their own, and make a better world to live in tomorrow. As a hiring manager, you may be a little cautious when approaching younger millennials for work. However, once you understand where these people are coming from, you will be in a great position to succeed with this hirings.

Technology is King

When you grow up with a cell phone in hand, and the world literally at your fingertips, you are going to be a slave to technology. Technology has enabled millennials to be by some expert’s claims, the freest thinking generation the world has ever seen. On average, these millennials will switch their attention from screen to screen 27 times per hour, and companies with strict technology rules need to start to rethink policies. A study by Cisco Systems confirmed that one in three millennials consider social media freedom and work mobility over salary when they are choosing a job. If you and your company willing to take a hard look at social media policies, your ability to hire millennials will greatly increase.

Advancement Based

The time of the complacent worker is quickly going out the window, and present day millennials are pushing the envelope and climbing the corporate ladder. These fresh workers are looking for real-time feedback, and frequent check-ins, the 12-month review process is too slow for these up and coming workers. These young adults have grown up in an era of advancement, and they strive to constantly improve themselves. A company that thinks ahead, and knows that their workforce will want to continually advance will be well set up for the future.

Work Culture is Key

The office lifestyle does not appeal to the average millennial, and those offices who are promoting that will soon be left the way of the Dodo bird. Instead, they want a workplace that not only allows them to pursue their ideas but one that allows for paid sabbaticals, promotes friendships with coworkers and a fair amount of leave. No, you do not have to re-create a Googleplex, instead, a millennial workforce is looking for something authentic that will make a true difference in their lives.

I like to work with millennials because they really do challenge me to think different. They don’t have the same work hard, get rich, attitude that got me where I am today. That’s just not as important. I like that. They care about a working culture, being more relaxed or “chilled”, and when I’m not acting according to our values, they call me out on it. And now that they are here to stay and contribute so much to the growth of deverus I’m here to say, they are some of the hardest working people in the industry and will be the people you lean on in times of panic. They perform wonderfully under stress and are able to do the extra work that most gen x or gen y refuse to do. However, they are a fluid bunch, and if an opportunity out of town attracts them, they will simply go if they are unhappy. Don’t be afraid of those under 30, they are the very people who could revolutionise your company, and make you the premier brand in your industry, as long as they get some time off to enjoy it.

If ‘data is the new oil,’ a variety of effort must be made to drill and refine the crude oil of big data in order to realize value. No value comes from simply having large volumes of data. Analytics are one key component required.

Analyzing big data can bring tremendous value to a wide variety of industries. As consumers, most of us will have appreciated suggested products from Amazon or suggested programming from Netflix. London-based Mastodon C applies big data to city and local government planning in order to benefit society. Recruiting and background checks are certainly among the industries that can be improved by big data.

The Value of Referrals

Personal relationships retain an important place in business. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is still applicable. While sites like LinkedIn and Facebook enable us to easily stay connected, relationships are still at the core of the platforms. Hiring someone recommended by a current valued employee is always advantageous. But, of course, this recruitment channel has its limitations.

Applying Background Check Info to Improve Hiring

To many workers, “background checks” represent official pre-screenings required to receive a job offer. Specifically, they often entail a credit check, criminal background check, and drug test. These screenings may add value. Although as stated on “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver, many Americans with poor credit scores are actually struggling with medical debt. In light of this fact, the supposition that those with poor credit have poor financial management skills or are generally irresponsible is highly questionable.

In any case, people worldwide are creating digital footprints literally before they’re born. Surely this data can be applied to greater use in both recruitment and background checks.

Using Big Data to Recruit

The data is out there, so how can we apply it? Online DIY background check websites provide instant results for a very low cost. However, the majority are not Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)-compliant, and often provide incomplete or inaccurate results.

Weed out and Weed In

In their simplest forms, background checks can serve to merely eliminate certain candidates from consideration. However, big data contains not just a high volume of data, but a great degree of variety. (Velocity happens to be the 3rd ‘V’ of big data.) This variety enables employers to create a richer picture of candidates and employees alike, enabling development of robust hiring strategies. In other words, you can not merely ‘weed out’ bad candidates, but ‘weed in’ candidates to the positions they’re best suited for.

Analyzing Digital Footprints

Kelly Trindel, PhD, Chief Analyst, Office of Research, Information and Planning, EEOC, concurs with my assertion that analytics are necessary to realize value from big data. In an EEOC meeting last October, which focused on the use of big data in hiring and other employment decisions, Trindel stated, “In the employment context, I would define big data as follows: big data is the combination of nontraditional and traditional employment data with technology-enabled analytics to create processes for identifying, recruiting, segmenting, and scoring job candidates and employees.”

Trindel continues to state that value is gained from linking these various data points, potentially even enabling predictions of future behavior or seeking out passive job candidates. The mention of “nontraditional data” is particularly interesting and alludes to the variety of big data.

More Data is Not Always Better

According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, there are many different databases used to conduct background checks on individuals. The most commonly cited is the FBI database, which is a collection of different systems organized under the National Crime Information Center.

“An employer might learn from a person's Facebook page that they belong to a particular religious group or have a disability that is not visually apparent," said Mark Briggs of the Arizona-based Briggs Law Group. “Knowing that information can open up an employer to liability,… and once you know something, you can be accused of considering that information illegally when making the hiring decision." Coming across such information is also a risk when conducting your own searches online.

What Databases Are Used For The Different Kinds of Background Checks?

Big Data = More and Less Discrimination

With the advancement of computer scoring and algorithm refinement, human judgment in employment decision making may be reduced or even made unnecessary, minimizing intentional discrimination.

Michal Kosinski, Assistant Professor, Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business, states, “Importantly, Big Data models aimed at recruitment and performance appraisal are likely to disproportionately benefit groups that are currently the most discriminated against.”[MB4]

Trindel gives a very different hypothetical example of a Silicon Valley tech company utilizing an algorithm to assist in hiring new employees who 'fit the culture.' This may cause an adverse impact, by screening out women and older workers. However, if an employer actively seeks candidates who ‘fit,’ it should stand to reason that they’re going to reduce diversity – by hiring people who match the existing workforce. In this example, the goal was the cause of the problem, not the use of an algorithm. [MB5]

Balance with Common Sense

Rather than replacing human judgement entirely, big data analytics need to be guided by humans and balanced with common sense. Another reason for caution is algorithms seem to uncover relationships among variables that are largely correlational in nature.

“The fact that computers are playing a bigger role in the hiring process causes some trepidation, but it's important to realize that these algorithms aren't meant to replace recruiters. They're simply intended to arm recruiters with more information, which they can use to make a more informed decision,” Michael Housman, Workforce Scientist, hiQ Labs.

“Employers who choose to purchase or adopt these strategies must be warned to not simply 'trust the math' as the math in this case has been referred to, by at least one mathematician/data scientist, as an 'opinion formalized in code,'” stated Trindel. The current lack of research further drives the need for caution. Eric M. Dunleavy of DCI Consulting states, “This is a complex topic, and there is still little research on big data tools along a number of important dimensions for HR practitioners, and little precedent from EEO matters.”

Barriers to Entry

Fortune 100 companies with hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide can afford to apply millions of dollars to the recruitment process. A slight reduction in turnover rate can yield a positive ROI, making a massive technology investment a profitable venture. Unfortunately, small and even medium-sized businesses simply can’t justify high expenditures, making some solutions inaccessible.

A recent survey conducted by SHRM confirms this disparity. 32% of HR professionals reported that their organization uses big data to support HR, but those in larger organizations were nearly twice as likely to use big data.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing have helped level the playing field between enterprises of various sizes. With cloud computing, you pay for only the computing power you use. SaaS apps enable small businesses to use sophisticated software without the need to install and maintain it. Salesforce.com, Gmail, and Dropbox are just a few examples of popular SaaS apps.

Sunday, 09 October 2016 00:00

9 Questions To Ask When Selecting Your ATS

More and more growing companies are turning to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to manage their expansion. These systems can help the human resources department manage the volume of applicants they have for each position, assure compliance with EEOC and other measures, and protect a company against litigation. These systems can be a great advantage, though selecting a partner can be a complex choice.

If you’re considering the adoption of an ATS, there are a few questions you should ask about each potential platform vendor. Much of this information is available on the Internet from company websites and user reviews, but it is best to have your list of questions in hand, and speak to a company representative in person. Reps provide the best assurance that the information you have is accurate and up-to-date.

At deverus, we want to help you pick the best solution for your needs. We’ve created Hubworks to allow our Verocity background screening system to work with the many ATS platforms in the market. Hubworks is built to understand the many different languages that third-party ATSs speak, and translate it to a common language for Verocity. This means Verocity and Hubworks both have you covered.

With the growing complexity in the market we’ve put together these questions to help get you started and make a smart choice for your next ATS.

Does It Meet My Needs?

The best place to start your review of applicant tracking systems is to define the needs you have and make sure an ATS can address all of them. If your operations need a specific type of compliance, such as OFCCP or EEOC, you’ll want to ensure that your ATS of choice can help you stay compliant.

We think that you should look for as diverse a protection set as possible from both your ATS and your background screening partner. deverus eases concerns by allowing you to safely check address history, criminal records, sex offender registration, social security information and much more, specifically at your request. These allow you to search only what you need and remove worry from compliance concerns by reducing risks. That means you can incorporate only proper information into your ATS and overall considerations.

Start with the very specific needs of your operation and your industry and build out a checklist. This list will help you quickly remove certain ATSs from your list of potential partners so you can decide between those who have the best set of additional features and support. After your fundamental needs are met, it’s time to review the structure of the software, the support from the company, and how it can help your operations down the road.

This checklist is also a great place to explore future questions. Whether you’re looking mainly for EEOC compliance or want to delve deeper with a continuously updated system, this will help ensure you get what you need and that it operates well with your background screener.

Do I Need a Cloud-Based Service?

Much of the computing world has moved to the cloud, and many ATS systems have followed suit. Cloud platforms allow for an easier delivery of information and cloud architecture allows your ATS vendor to update software as it’s needed. Cloud systems change the way you interact with the world outside, so there’s a lot to consider. Thankfully, cloud systems are extremely positive in cases such as employment checks and application tracking.

In the world of ATS, cloud systems are important for almost all use cases because it can help to remove two major burdens: security and updates.

Cloud Security

Data security is of the utmost importance for ATS because of the legal requirements companies must adhere to when transmitting this kind of information. There are also significant liability concerns around this type of data because lost or stolen personal information can be used for many different crimes. Cloud platforms address this because it is the software and server of the ATS provider that are used to store and transmit the data.

We think all of your IT partners should make the same type of promises. It’s the responsibility of any cloud platform to keep your data and system safe, so these are guarantees that you must ask for in your considerations.

System Updates

While less on the scary side of things, removing the need for you to manually check for updates to your system – and the information it uses – is also a significant benefit of going to the cloud. Cloud systems can update over time, so you don’t have a major cycle of upgrades that strikes every year or so and causes a disruption to your service.

Cloud-based updates also allow your system to dynamically adapt to new laws when they go into effect. The updates are based on your ATS vendor, so the second part of your cloud question should be: How often does this ATS vendor provide updates to meet compliance regulations and laws? The best answer is a set of regular updates that can keep your system compliant.

In today’s space, there are very few reasons for using a non-cloud service. It increases your risk for security breaches and the possibility that you may perform an illegal check. While you will have more direct control over the software you use, most find the potential harm to be too great.

Can I Learn It?

All new software comes with a learning curve, but some ATS platforms focus on data over usability. You’ll want to select a platform that meets your user-friendly needs, both in terms of general computer use and how the system itself works.

If you’re moving from a very simple fax-based plan, platforms that rely on a dashboard and a slow, even flow are a great bet. This type of system also works well for people who won’t have a lot of time to dig deep into the data, and want reports that are automatically generated.

If you’re looking to use this type of check to provide a deeper set of information and statistics that you use for hiring decisions, look for an option that lets you create custom reports.

Hubworks by deverus is designed with this sort of framework in mind. We think it’s a great value for a vendor to reduce what you need to learn. That’s why Hubworks is designed to quickly integrate with the majority of third-party ATSs in the market. Pre-integration and support allows you to incorporate background screening into your overall application process but removes the need for extra training, coding or in-depth support each time you want to use a new ATS.

Your best bet is to always ask for a free trial or test period so you can see if the system is easy to understand and use. This also provides a great way to check and make sure it works with your existing software, and that you can use the files it sends back to you.

How Easy Is It To Get Help?

“Free” is a big draw for many new ATS providers, but that benefit evaporates at the first sign of a problem. When learning a new system, we all need some support and training. If you include training time and support requirements in your plan, you’re less likely to hit that nasty surprise of selecting an ATS that takes days or weeks to get back to you.

In the hiring world, those delays can cost you good candidates or even cause your search to run afoul of local or regional compliance laws. To counter this, go after online and onsite training services. Try to find an ATS that offers access to live trainers as you set up and practice each process. Online programs allow you to experience training without travel costs and can be initiated as soon as your software is up and running.

Onsite training and recurring schedules allow you to easily onboard new employees and answer specific questions relating to your deployment and industry. This approach has served us well in both the platforms we offer and those we use.

The best options are vendors who provide online communication and support, a 24/7 help line, and a suite of training materials. Training materials help you do a better job using the software and reduce the instances of direct support, so many vendors are beefing up their libraries to make the support situation better for everyone.

Whether you’re requesting one-on-one training for a future date, submitting a trouble ticket, or calling directly for immediate assistance, the tech support staff should be ready to assist you.

Who Owns the Data?

An ATS vendor should not have any final ownership of your information, meaning that you should always have the option to save all of the information you’ve collected. This includes candidate resumes, interview records, and information about when people were added or removed from the hiring process.

Most vendors will allow you to download this information, but there may be some hidden requirements. Make sure you know exactly what you can download and how you will receive the documents. You want to be able to get them in files that your computer can use without the ATS vendor software.

Ownership of data is important for your records and if you ever need to change service providers. Also, you’ll want to make sure that no one is charging you for a data download. If those fees exist, other somewhat hidden fees may also be around.

Will It Scale With Me?

Businesses aim to grow, that’s exactly why you’re hiring and looking at an ATS in the first place. Your software should support this goal by growing with you, instead of creating new bottlenecks that you struggle to overcome.

Talk to your vendor about scalability and make sure that they’re serving clients that are bigger than you. Ask about how easy it is to grow the system and expand users, noting the cost of this growth. Cloud systems make scaling much easier since you won’t need any additional hardware on your end.

While growth can seem amorphous, it can easily be quantified if you think about what the hardware means. For example, deverus currently runs more than 1 million transactions each month but our existing infrastructure can support up to 20 million monthly transactions without any major hardware redesigns.

When you ask about the ability for a platform to grow, ask about both its growth in relation to your business and their overall customer base.

Scalability is essential, especially when you’re talking about response times for complex or mission-critical reports. You want the buffer for growth pre-built into any system you’re plugging into, and not to have to wait for some third party to upgrade their equipment to meet your demands.

Does The Software Integrate Well?

Many application tracking systems are paired with background screening platforms, because it makes the process of choosing the right candidate that much easier. The better these two pieces of software play together, the easier your life will be during the hiring process. Many ATS vendors will note that their software integrates with common background screening platforms, but that’s just dipping a toe in the water – you want to swim.

The key to software integration isn’t just communicating, it’s communicating well. Many will require some software development or form tweaking on your part to get the two systems to accurately trade information.

Think of it like learning a new dialect. If your ATS speaks English with a British accent but your background screener has a Texas twang, some information will get lost in translation when they have a conversation. By taking that approach, deverus was able to pioneer a process that makes integrating as simple as getting online.

Hubworks from deverus operates as a one-to-many ATS connectivity platform by translating requests and results so your platform only needs to speak one language. By working as a translator, Hubworks can reduce the cost for additional ATS integrations and speed up future integrations because you no longer need developers to come in and write original, unique code for your deployment.

We offer Hubworks to help connect your ATS to the Verocity background screening platform so there’s nothing lost in translation. Even if your ATS uses a non-standard data format, we’re here to support that selection if it makes business sense for you.

Are Extra Features Supported Safely?

Many ATS have started to add in social media tools to help judge candidates based on their public persona. These options move past just a public search of Facebook and LinkedIn posts or information to broader applications around potential candidate discovery, job postings, and even recommendations from talent communities.

These social network programs can be a significant benefit to your service, but they don’t fit every position. Make sure to ask about how easy it is to turn social information on and off, plus any additional costs or reporting requirements that may be involved.

When you’re considering moving into the mobile space – such as an ATS that adds in a video interview option – be cautious and ask a lot of security questions. It is not always possible to secure these connections, so you need to ensure that information being transmitted over them is not a potential risk.

One sub-question about new feature support is: do you need them?

All deverus clients also have the ability to submit enhancement ideas at any time. Every idea is reviewed for inclusion in the regular system updates that deverus provides free of charge to everyone on our system. We think adding extra features needs to be more than what’s trending in the industry, they need to be what users want and need.

Is The Company Stable And Reliable?

Integration actually plays a big role in this list twice because your company is best served by an ATS vendor that is reliable and secure in the industry. Newcomers can offer better prices, as can those struggling, but they may not be able to keep up with the rigors of the ATS market.

Every time an installed vendor goes out of business, your company is forced to do a new installation and integration. That means easier integrations are preferable in every case, as is a company with a long track record. These characteristics of a system and the company that runs it provide a great way to differentiate options and judge companies for that final choice.

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