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4 employment screening trends to understand before you hire in 2020

Social Media Screening

Employers will continue to show increasing interest in screening candidates’ online presence and ramp up their use of social media screening and real-time employee monitoring in 2020.

In 2020, more background screening processes will include online and social media searches as part of their standard suite of pre-employment checks than at any time previously, but hiring employers must ensure that these searches protect candidate privacy and don’t run foul of equality legislation.

While social media screening presents opportunities for recruiters to find candidates and to reduce risk; at the same time, these searches can create a legal minefield of potential liability.

Interest in social media screening has grown significantly over the last few years. We now see almost daily news stories of someone getting into trouble with their employer over what they may have posted online.

Hiring companies know they can’t really get away with ignoring social media as part of the background-screening process any longer, but a DIY approach is incredibly troubling for candidates in terms of privacy, accuracy and discrimination.

If HR professionals are conducting their own random online searches on job candidates, they should resist the temptation. The potential for discrimination far outweighs the cost of processing a social media screening option using Trustopia.

Employers should be wary of discovering too much information — or “TMI” —on social media. ‘TMI’ means by looking at [an applicant’s] social media site or perhaps a photo or something that they have blogged about, you may learn all sorts of things as an employer you don’t want let alone need to know and [those discoveries] legally cannot be the basis of a decision.

Even the appearance of a decision not to hire someone based on a negative impression related to race, gender, religion, or other protected classes could subject [employers] to discrimination claims.

Experts agree that if employers decide to screen an applicant through social media, the best way to reduce legal risk is by having a third-party vendor perform the search instead of doing it in-house.

Background-check providers that perform social media screening should produce accurate reports scrubbed of protected characteristics. Social media reports therefore won’t ever show whether or not someone is Muslim or gay or a veteran to protect the employer from a discrimination claim. They will only provide instances of actionable, offensive information, for example relating to criminal activity, violent behaviour or making racist comments.

Employers need to be careful however not to violate candidate privacy. Social media screens should be drawn only from user-generated, publicly available information and not from third-party content or password-protected sites.

If the applicant’s social media settings are set to public, that information is open for anyone, including potential future employers, to review. However, if their profile is set to private, the employer cannot try to bypass those settings without risking exposure to potential liability down the road. If there is any doubt as to the candidate having given their explicit consent: there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever!

Continuous Screening

Intelligent screening technologies let enterprises go beyond pre-employment screening and re-screens to real-time monitoring of current employees for warning signs of illegal or other concerning behaviour.

Employee monitoring is one of the biggest trends we are seeing at Trustopia. Perhaps justifiably, employers will always want to know who is working for them—not just [during] hiring but throughout their employment relationship.

A current employee can engage in illegal behaviour as much now as he or she could have before they were an employee.

Uber announced plans in 2019 for ongoing monitoring of arrest and conviction data on their drivers.

These sort of digital tools have been evolving with end users finally seeing the bottom line benefits, and the data is getting better too.

While there are some industries whose regulations have mandated continuous or some form of periodic screening, such as healthcare, Trustopia is seeing more industries embrace the idea.

Data-Breach Concerns Lead to Increased Focus on Security

Data-breach protection, information security and compliance with privacy laws will be top of mind for those managing employment screening in 2020.

The massive data breach suffered by nationwide credit reporting agency Equifax in 2017 that impacted more than 145 million Americans — that’s almost half of the adult US population — was a wake-up call for all industries to improve their information security!

The need for intelligent screening technology platforms, such as Trustopia’s, that appropriately handle the personal data of job applicants to ensure information security has become mission critical.

Organisations conducting background screens of citizens of the European Union (EU) have to be mindful of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The law requires that employers receive consent to process a subject’s data, ensure that collected data is made anonymous to protect privacy, make data-breach notifications, safely handle the transfer of data across borders, and in some cases, appoint a data protection officer to oversee compliance.

If HR prints the background-check reports for whatever reason, [the printouts] should be maintained in a confidential manner and not shared with anyone outside of the appropriate decision-makers. In accordance with the company’s data-retention policy, paper-based background-check reports should always be disposed of properly, by destroying or erasing electronic files or shredding, burning or pulverising paper documents.

AI Improves Background Screening But …

While the use of technologies such as AI, machine learning and automation will continue to play a major role in the employee screening and recruitment process by reducing the time to hire, improving the quality of hire, improving the candidate experience and enhancing background screening in 2020: humans still need to be involved due to discrimination concerns.

Most background screening processes today have not yet adopted AI within the screening process.

Trustopia believes this is inevitable as those tasked with enterprise screening continue to automate their operations.

In the past, the screening industry would have chosen to throw people at processes and increase its labour for processing screening. AI allows them now to automate and put machines in place of processing seats, allowing for a faster and more certain background screening outcome.

Trustopia is excited to be a leader in this innovation curve and confident we will see AI use cases continue to grow in the HR space.

In competitive labour markets where a positive candidate experience in the screening process plays a major role in a candidates’ decision to accept job offers; utilising AI to interact with job applicants faster and more effectively can make a real difference.

While cutting-edge technologies like AI plays a vital role in what Trustopia does to enable companies people screen in smarter, more cost-effective and efficient ways; background screening will without a doubt need a guiding human touch always and until sufficiently non-biased AI algorithms can be created to ensure that discriminatory hiring decisions aren’t ever made or indeed, even possible.

Author: Ronan Smith, Founder

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