Employers in 2022 are almost universally suffering from staffing shortages and waging a cutthroat war for top talent.
Job applicants are in the driver's seat. To an employer attempting to maintain productivity, delays in the background screening process that delay hiring, are intolerable. Every day — and, potentially, every hour — wasted waiting for a job applicant’s experience to be verified heightens the chance for another employer to poach that applicant.
For CRAs and background screening companies, the pressure to stay ahead of employment verification backlogs has never been more intense. When an end-user loses a job applicant to a competing employer, you risk losing that end-user’s business to a competing CRA.
Unfortunately, employment verifications may be the most challenging aspect of a background check to keep from falling behind. Due to several factors, employment verifications seem to defy quick turnaround times:
- Job applicants provide impartial or incorrect data
- Sources fail to respond within a reasonable timeframe (or at all)
- Provided sources are not always the correct people to verify employment
- End-users require specific calling patterns
Compounding the difficulty is the undeniable fact that background screening organizations must contend with staffing challenges of their own. It can take up to eight weeks to get a new hire even close to full production in your call center — eight weeks of digging your business even deeper into the backlog hole. The extended onboarding period for new researchers also makes it nearly impossible to scale up quickly to accommodate labor market surges.
Are employment verification backlogs inevitable?
As a CRA, a sense of hopelessness can set in when you fall behind on verifications. You want to help your customers fill their open positions efficiently (and therefore grow your business), but many of the difficulties impeding employment verifications seem beyond your control.
The good news is that CRAs like yours don’t have to operate in a perpetual state of backlogs. The following three strategies will not only help your company take control of your current verification orders, but they will help you scale your CRA to take on and successfully complete more work than ever before.
1. Evaluate past volume to predict spikes and quiet periods
Hiring trends are cyclical. For example, April through June, when new graduates hit the job market, typically see hiring spikes. November and December, after budgets run out and the holidays begin, tend to be quieter.
By identifying recurring trends like these, you can ensure your team is appropriately staffed when the orders start coming in fast and furious. We recommend including a buffer of 5% to 10% above your staffing projection (if your budget can absorb it) — because the job market does not always behave the way we expect it to.
What you need: Data, and lots of it. For example, at InformData, we determine our staffing needs based on our analysis of at least three years of volume, plus our current verifications pipeline.
Challenges: Not every CRA will have the volume of historical data necessary to gain useful information about hiring trends — nor the expertise to understand the data.
2. Speak regularly with your customers about anticipated volumes
Keeping the lines of communication open between your team and your end-users is a crucial practice for avoiding unexpected volume surges. After all, your end-users know better than you what their hiring needs will be over the coming months and years.
For example, a customer may be planning to expand into a new region. Another might be launching a new product and bringing on a legion of salespeople to push it. Yet another customer might be facing downsizing.
All this would be good information to have as a CRA, but you can only find out if you ask.
What you need: Close relationships with your end-users. A once-a-quarter conversation will probably not provide enough warning for an incoming surge of verification orders. Constant two-way communication is needed, in other words, a true partnership.
Challenges: Customers can’t always anticipate hiring spikes. For example, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, while other organizations were scaling down, many healthcare organizations were forced to scale up quickly.
3. Outsource overflow verification work to a third-party background screening data provider
As we discussed in the previous two sections, predicting the demand for pre-employment background screening is not an exact science, and there are many reasons why even the best-prepared CRA might be caught flat-footed. The recent period of extreme job churn is one example, but other more mundane reasons include people taking time off due to illness or family leave.
It’s becoming increasingly common for CRAs to outsource a portion of their verification orders to third-party background screening data providers. An outsourced data provider can act as a release valve for your overflow work when your internal team already has enough on their hands.
Outsourcing verifications has other benefits, as well. Among these are that outsourcing avoids all the costs associated with adding staff members, such as salaries, benefits, equipment, and office space. You only pay for outsourcing when you need it; when volume returns to “normal,” you can continue on with your internal team only.
What you need: An outsourced data provider that can offer the same quality, speed, and accuracy as your internal verifications team — or better. Your provider should have the scale and flexibility to absorb any increase in volume at any time, helping your business stay out of the backlogs for good.
Challenges: Some CRAs might be wary of giving up control over verifications to a third party. You might wonder if an outsourced provider can accommodate your end-users’ very specific customization requirements.
We suggest giving any outsourced data provider a trial run — perhaps during a relatively slow period — before trusting them with higher volumes. Click here to speak to an InformData expert about how we can help your background screening company avoid the employment verification backlogs.