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Top 4 Background Screening Trends in 2020

As we’re sure you’re already aware 2020 has been a bit of a crazy year. While there have been lots of negatives, it has highlighted a lot of new tech and trends that are prompting change in society. Digitisation has been a big driver of this change.  

Organisations across the world, have been desperate to adapt to a remote style of working to ensure business continuityThis article covers the top 4 trends that have informed the background screening industry over the past year. 


The Rise of Remote Conferencing 

Before this year, Skype (est. 2003) and Zoom (est. 2011) were already mainstream applications worldwide. Widely used for international business or by those will relatives abroad, both had daily users in the millions. But for the vast majority of the public, these pieces of software were rarely used. 

Since December last year, Zoom meeting participants have grown from 10 million per day to 300 million per day. This is an increase of nearly 3000% percent and is reflected in their profits. In the first quarter of this year, Zoom nearly tripled what they billed in the same period of the previous financial year ($328 million). What was once the realm of international communication is now how we conduct our daily lives.

Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace have been standouts as well. Their functionality has allowed businesses to adapt to the new normal in ways people probably hadn’t even considered this time last year. It remains to be seen whether this trend continues into 2021. But with a demand for remote working to become an option for most office-based workers it seems likely. 


The DBS Update Service

The DBS Update Service has been around since 2013. It’s a great service allowing DBS certificate holders to subscribe for £13pa, and the Disclosure and Barring Service keep their certificate information updated online. This has to be done within 30 days of the issue of the certificate.

Being on the DBS Update Service is good for both employers and those looking for work. Not having to wait for DBS checks to come back means a quicker recruitment process for everyone involvedIt also means that you can check to see if an applicants criminal history has changed at any point during their employment

Unfortunately, at the moment, it is a vastly under-utilised service. 

As of 2021, the taxi and private hire industry is going to be the first sector enforcing mandatory registration to the DBS Update ServiceAfter several years’ worth of public inquests into the safeguarding deficiencies of the industry, this is one of many fail-safes that the government have brought in to try and restore public trust.

Whilst it's only one industry, for now, it seems logical that this scheme would expand to other regulated industriesIf you process DBS checks for your business, getting your staff signed up to the DBS update service is one way you can future-proof your organisation. 


Social Media Checks 

Social media checks have existed in some form since the birth of social media. Looking someone up on Facebook or Instagram is now an essential part of our day-to-day social interactions. We all do it multiple times a day. 

Media checks are essential for roles in the public eye where they will be under strict professional scrutinyWhether it's the private or public sector it is important to know if someone has misrepresented themselves, or others in a public forum. 

Many recruitment consultants and hiring managers now belong to a generation termed ‘digital natives’They have an innate understanding of the internet and social media because they have grown up with itThis means they are no stranger to trawling through any online information that might be relevantWhilst searching on social media like this is fine in your personal life, it’s a different story when you’re a prospective employer. 

The key thing to consider is relevance. For example, consider a persons LinkedIn profile; a public yet professional platform used for recruitment. This could be a legitimate source of info. However, scouring someone’s Facebook feed, a social site, could be problematic. For the most part, someone’s social life has little relevance on their ability to carry out their work role.

If you are going to be looking into someone’s background, regardless of the medium, you should discuss this with your candidate. Getting your candidates consent is essential for any kind of pre-employment screening 


Algorithmic and AI Decision Making 

When many people think of AI, they tend to imagine the evil computers described in sci-fi films. Stanley Kubrick’s HAL-9000 springs to mind. But machine-learning algorithms and AI are already integral to the global economy. Retail, farming, communication and our transport networks already rely on these technologies to function safely and effectively 

Inevitably, the decision-making potential of this tech is making its way into the recruitment sectorThere are already many companies offering AI sourcing as a safe and effective way to improve your recruitment process. And they have a point. They can trawl CV platforms, filter out irrelevant candidates and integrate into the internal software you already use. Time and money saved are the big selling factors for these companies. 

However, one of the big worries about AI and machine learning is that we don’t quite understand how they work yet. Or should I say think? Studies have shown that researchers often have no idea how AIs come to their decisions. Trying to understand their decision-making process has essentially confirmed that AI doesn't think like people. 

Not having an understanding of your own organisation's recruitment procedure should raise alarm bellsWhilst it may save time and money, it has been demonstrated that there is potential for unwitting discrimination against candidates 

AI tend to learn from the unconscious biases present in their human creatorsWhile not necessarily the AI’s fault, reliance on this technology could allow recruitment discrimination to perpetuate uncheckedWe would recommend thoroughly researching any technology like this before adopting it into your recruitment process. 


That concludes our round-up of the 4 biggest background screening trends of 2020. For more content like this, make sure you follow us on social media! 

For any more information about how Personnel Checks’ compliance solutions can help your organisation drop us a line. You can give us a call on 01254 355688 or drop an email to [email protected] 


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