International Background Checks: What you Need to Know

Do you know what you will need to verify an applicant’s educational history in India? Criminal records in the United Kingdom? Driving records in Mexico? Work history in Taiwan?

The previous issue of the A-Check Observer highlighted international background check growth as a top trend to watch in 2012, with good reason. In 2011, A-Check and our Global Alliance Partners completed more than 70,000 individual screening requests outside the U.S., an increase of more than 13,000 percent from 2005. This growth trend continues unabated as word about A-Check’s global services offerings gets around.

See A-Check’s International Services Turnaround Times Report

Growing demand for international screening follows shifts in workforce sourcing demographics, advances in technology and the development of effective international screening networks.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States’ 24.4 million foreign-born workers comprise roughly 16 percent of the U.S. labor force. Employers must face the fact their applicants may come from anywhere in the world, and be prepared to conduct due diligence on their background with the same level of scrutiny US candidates receive.

In countries outside the U.S., criminal records research is conducted on-site by a records researcher. Most criminal records are not searchable or available in electronic format. The ability to upload and transmit information around the globe instantly and securely has drastically improved turnaround times. Real time connections to A-Check’s eRunner system allow researchers around the globe to retrieve research assignments and return results with the click of a button.

Over the past decade, A-Check has focused on developing the industry’s most comprehensive network of research partners, and currently has in place an optimal combination of A-Check-owned offices as well as A-Check Alliance Partners to provide complete global coverage.

So what should employers look for in an international screening supplier? What’s important and what’s window dressing? There are four major elements to consider:

1. Appropriate Technology and Security
At minimum, an international screening supplier’s ordering system should support international requirements. For example, required fields should dynamically adjust to data formats for each country and inform the requester of any special documentation required or any compliance issues depending on the country selected.

This functionality reduces time to hire by helping HR provide all required information and/or documentation up-front.

In addition to dynamic fields, the ordering system should support document management, the ability to upload and manage documentation attached to a candidate’s background screening file.

Also critical is the system’s ability to communicate in real time, through secure encrypted channels. Data entered into a system, whether by a requester or a researcher, should populate in real time for maximum efficiency. Any delays in updating system data can result in a time-to-hire delay.

2. Carefully Developed and Proven Researcher Network
Let’s dispense with the myth about the need for international researchers to be direct employees of the background check company for whom they are doing research. This approach is not desirable domestically, much less internationally.

In the U.S., all employee screening companies rely on an established network of third-party court researchers to cover jurisdictions where maintaining a direct research employee is not cost effective. This approach reduces costs and turnaround times, and works very well as long as there is a strong Quality Control program to ensure accuracy and compliance.

The same principle applies to international research. There is no benefit to maintaining a global network of direct employees for all global jurisdictions. Doing so would result in much higher prices and no improvement to turnaround times or quality of services.

The best approach, in terms of costs, quality and turnaround, is a network composed of both direct employees and vetted third party research partners armed with the technology to instantly retrieve their research assignments along with any required documentation, and the ability to upload and transmit their research back in real time.

A-Check has taken the time to develop these relationships and technology, carefully selecting our international partners for their expertise, reputation and performance.

A truly global employee screening vendor has the resources in place to cover not just the most common international jurisdictions, but also those less frequently requested.

Whether the research is carried out by a direct employee or a trusted research partner is not relevant, as long as an effective Quality Control and Compliance process is in place.

3. Compliance – Legal Requirements by Country
Global screening adds an additional layer of data access and compliance requirements, with each country mandating specific data privacy rules covering:

– The types of information which can be obtained
– Any documentation required to obtain said information
– The persons / entities authorized to obtain it
– Permissible uses for the information
– Whether it may be transported outside the country
– When or if the information should be destroyed

The myriad requirements are daunting for any employer to track, making consultation with an expert partner critical. A-Check’s international screening compliance program has been developed on a country-by-country basis through direct contact with each country’s governing authority, and confirmed through ongoing in-country legal support.

4. Experience and Speed
As important as any compliance element, cultural awareness and experience play a vital role in successful international background screens, especially when it comes to education and employment verifications.

Effective communication skills and prior knowledge of potential obstacles results in higher verification rates and faster turnaround. As a result of this experience, A-Check’s “Unable to Verify” rate is less than .02 percent, one of the lowest in the industry, and turnaround times are extremely competitive.

As for criminal records research, effectiveness is determined by the quality of the researchers. A-Check’s approach is to partner with local resources for global reach, relying on carefully vetted local experts for best results.

Not sure how to gauge experience or effectiveness? Turnaround times are a good indicator. Check out A-Check’s International Services Turnaround Times Report for the most frequently requested countries.

Success of an international background screening program lies in partnering with an experienced provider, like A-Check, that possesses the technology, resources and compliance capabilities to keep your global hiring pipeline running at full speed.

 

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