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Sunni Herbruck

Sunni Herbruck

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 18:03

Industry Icebergs

Director James Cameron produced the blockbuster Titanic with icebergs that sat high in the water for maximum dramatic effect for movie audiences. In reality, icebergs conceal 95% of their mass below the waterline. The “icebergs” in your industry are the same as the real-life ones – lurking below the surface, waiting to cause massive damage if you fail to navigate around them in time. They seem innocuous until you look under the surface so it’s important to keep a watchful eye for any indication of trouble on the horizon. Massive disruptions are out there, and it’s up to you to stay on the look-out.

Disruption, Transformation, and Your Business

There’s a saying in poker: “if you can’t figure out the weakest player at the table, it’s you.” Industry icebergs are similar. If you can’t identify the icebergs ahead, you are probably about to hit one. It’s easy to think of examples where industries and businesses suffered a blindside attack from a new technology or competing product/service. Blockbuster, K-Mart, Blackberry, and Xerox are just a few examples of well known brands that failed to innovate. But entire industries are at risk as well; publishing, transportation, hospitality, insurance, software, music and entertainment to name a few. We can see the risks of disruption and industry icebergs in each one. The background check industry also has trouble on the horizon.

Porter’s 5 Forces and the Icebergs Ahead

If you aren’t familiar with Michael Porter and the Five Forces Analysis, it’s worth learning about this powerful competitive strategy tool. The Five Forces are the elements of business’ competitive advantage: new entrants, industry rivals, supplier power, substitutes, and customer power. Each force factor can impact your ability to compete and succeed. Can you quickly identify your biggest threat in each section of the Five Forces? Do you know where the icebergs lie?

Focus on Your Friends (and Enemies)

The best defense against icebergs is awareness so you are prepared to react to the changes that lie ahead. Customer feedback, industry scanners, trade publications, conference events, suppliers, vendors, and business journalism can all help you identify challenges to your business model. Consider devoting some time to track industry developments, new players, and innovative technology, and be open to taking some meetings with new potential partners to learn about their insights and what new technology is out there to help you keep a finger on the pulse of your industry. Given enough time, you can usually react and respond to any challenges from new competition, new products, technology, and industry innovations. But wait until the last minute, and you might not recover from the sudden impact of an iceberg ahead. If you don’t know what your competitors, customers, and suppliers are doing to improve their business, you put yourself at risk. Stay alert and make sure you’re ready to address the icebergs ahead.

Technological progress affects many businesses, and background check companies are no exception to radical advancements and rapid change. If you have screened volunteers in the past, you know that there is lots of room for improvement. From workflow automation and integration to cloud storage and advanced analytics, the modern background check process offers a new level of speed and service for volunteer screening.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation makes everything easier. Imagine if your candidates could log in to a portal with your branding and do all of the data entry themselves. Everything else works behind the scenes to do the criminal searches and other information queries to vet your pool of applicants. All you need to do is read the reports and reject the inappropriate volunteer candidates. It’s easier than ever to screen your volunteers for suitability to get the best people on your team while avoiding liability and problems from poor selections.

User Experience

Another new development in the world of background checks and volunteer screening is the focus on the user experience. From the volunteer coordinators to the applicants themselves, anyone who interacts with the screening process should feel comfortable and satisfied with their experience as a user. Your response rates will improve, and all that time spent on system training and administration is better spent on your organization’s goals. Volunteer screening shouldn’t be painful, and your background check provider should take the time to design an easy-to-use system for clients and applicants.


Mobile recruiting is here to stay, and people expect to do business using their mobile devices more than ever. With a modern background check company, you can get your applications and volunteer screening done on-site right from a smartphone. E-signatures and mobile approvals are new tools that can shave days off your volunteer screening process. It’s so easy to get things done when you can use mobile applications and web portals for your volunteers.

On the Cloud

With cloud computing, you get the security of off-site storage with full accessibility using remote connections. Wouldn’t it be nice to access your volunteer screening reports from the field? With constant backups and 24/7 access, your cloud-based volunteer screening process is safer and more reliable than ever.

Speed to Volunteer Confirmation

One of the big bottlenecks when you take on volunteers is the screening process. You need to vet your candidates to find the best people and decline to take on anyone who isn’t suited to the position. In the past, this screening process could add days or weeks to the volunteer on-boarding timetable. With modern background checks, you can get results in minutes instead of days. Why wait longer than you have to? With custom parameters and a rapid screening process, your background checks can happen in a fraction of the time with better, more thorough results.

Paper-based screening is a thing of the past. With modern volunteer screening, not only do you get the benefits of speed and security, but you also have access to instant reports and advanced analytical tools to help you grasp the big picture. View all of your volunteer candidates at a glance and dive into the numbers to identify trends. It’s easier than ever to do your volunteer screening, and the new tools available can help you make the best judgment call for your organization and its goals.

It’s all about convenience

If your organization uses volunteers, you might need to do some due diligence before you pass on responsibility to people new to the team. It’s important to learn about your volunteers before you let them represent you with your clients, staff, or the public. Mobile background checks can be a useful tool if you need fast access to professional background services wherever you are. Our services can help you manage volunteers at an elementary school, preschool, or secondary schools. Perhaps you are working for the community at local libraries, sports facilities, religious institutions, or youth development camps. Wherever you are and what you do, you’ll benefit from the convenience and affordability of mobile background checks.

Take the risk out of it

Volunteer screening is a crucial step if your volunteers will have access to money, valuables, equipment, or other things of value that you risk losing in an accident or theft. It’s great when people want to give back to the community, but it’s not always a good fit for your needs. If you need reliable people you can trust as your volunteers, you should check out mobile background checks for volunteer screening at your organization.

Sorting the good from the bad

Being able to screen your volunteers on-site is a valuable tool to hit the ground running. If you don’t have access to a desktop, most online background checks won’t help you. Wouldn’t it be great if you could run a background check right then and there? It’s now possible with the latest mobile background screening technology. If your organization works with vulnerable populations, at-risk youth, or young children, you must take extra care with who you choose as your volunteers. It’s crucial to keep bad people out and let the good ones in. Not everyone is cut out for working as a volunteer with vulnerable groups, but it’s up to you and your screening process to sort the good ones from the bad.

Mobile background checks work

Volunteer applications are an important step, but you often need to do more than read their profile to get a proper picture of each applicant. It’s easy to add background checks to your existing screening process, and now you can offer them through branded communications and online volunteer portals. When it’s this easy and affordable to run a professional background check on your volunteers, there’s no excuse to skip this step. No matter how big or small your organization or upcoming event may be, you can afford the services of a mobile background check company. They have easy-to-use apps and websites to help you with your volunteer screening. It’s faster and more affordable than the traditional screening services that you used in the past. For your next volunteer intake, it’s worth a look at the mobile screening services available to you and your organization.

Even when there’s no wages or money changing hands, people you bring onboard may be in a position to abuse or take advantage of their volunteers. If you work with children, seniors, or other vulnerable populations, it’s even more important to vet your candidates. With mobile background checks, you can get all the information you’ll need to make the right choices when it comes to screening your volunteers.

Since being put into legislation, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has been a thorn in the side of employers since its inception due to the very real possibility of class action lawsuits by potential employees. We have seen it time and again, a potential employee suing an employer for damages due to a background check, and citing breach of privacy or a host of other issues they need to be covered. However, in May 2016, a precedent was finally set for those seeking damages from companies who refused to hire due to a criminal record check. Spokeo Inc v. Robins established that consumers must prove ‘concrete injury’ in class action lawsuits for alleged ‘bare’ violations of a federal statute. We are going to review the case, and then dive into the threats that still exist via the FCRA for employers.

The court ruled in favor of Spokeo 6-2, and in fact, they dove deeper into the law then most Federal Courts have dared to. They stated: (a) A plaintiff invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing the “irreducible constitutional minimum” of standing by demonstrating (1) an injury in fact, (2) fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Thus, the injury requirement requires a plaintiff to not only show the injury as concrete and particularised, but actual or imminent rather than hypothetical. They continued along this discourse, and stated that an injury can be intangible, there still must be a risk of harm above and beyond a technical violation. You may be asking yourself, well what does that mean for me and my business?

It means that you are not safe, although the court has slowed down the possibilities of class action suits, suits can still come your way if the perceived level of injury is beyond a technical violation. Now saying that there are a few things that may happen with these types of cases. 1) Plaintiffs’ attorneys may focus on cases that caused legitimate harm, such as running screens without consent or background check firms that deliver reports with erroneous information. 2) If courts are no longer a viable way in which the FCRA is going to regulated, the Federal Trade commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will fill that void. 3) Cases could be brought forward in state court, rather than federal court.

At this moment we are not 100% sure on what is going to happen with FCRA trials, and cases. It is a complex question, and we are still waiting for an answer. As an employer, you have to be vigilant in your background checks, and ensure the companies you use, are doing it correctly. Only hire those companies who have the highest degree of accuracy, and ensure that your managers or human resource staff have permission from the potential hire to complete the check. Remember, a single screw up that caused harm can cost your companies millions, and that is something as an employer you should want to avoid at all costs.

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