Magazine Article | May 19, 2006

Combine Background Screening, Applicant Tracking

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

You can increase efficiencies and adhere to federal and state regulations with this integrated approach to hiring.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, June 2006

Technology has undoubtedly broadened the capabilities of retailers to enhance the efficiencies of candidate selection, screening, and the hiring process through the integration of BGS (background screening) programs and ATSs (applicant tracking systems). Properly planned integration increases the payback on these two traditionally independent investments. The advantages of the integration include eliminating duplicate entry of applicant information,  enabling “no hire” decisions prior to the ordering of background checks, assuring compliance with federal and state regulations, and providing consistent hiring decisions.

Most ATS companies build programs to meet clients’ specific needs. With a client’s project management team, an ATS system is designed, approved, tested, and implemented independent of the background-screening program. Usually, if a request for integration is made, it comes postimplementation of the ATS. This late consideration negatively affects the maximum payback possible if the two providers collaborated during the discovery stages. The retailer can avoid the inevitable erosion of payback from occurring by reducing the excessive energy and money spent for modifications that could have been avoided with early collaboration.

ATSs are designed to collect information from every individual who seeks employment and, therefore, may be perceived as the primary procedure in the candidate selection process. However, because BGS companies deal with federal and state regulations pertaining to release notifications, identification requirements from various agencies, and adverse action requirements, it is essential these companies participate in determining the information to be captured from the applicant.

One example of information that must be considered during the development of an online application pertains to the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) requirement that a disclosure and written authorization be obtained from the applicant before the background check can be received. Additionally, the authorization of  an electronic signature may be acceptable, but should follow guidelines set forth in the ESIGN Act (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act).

Another example centers on specific state mandates. California, Minnesota, and Oklahoma have statutes that provide applicants with the right to receive copies of certain consumer reports, even if they are not denied employment. These “opt-in” choices must be considered when designing the data entry portion of the ATS.

Identify Requirements Up Front, Reduce Wasted Effort
In many companies, promotions require background checks on individuals. An ATS provider can include this option up front. The ATS device becomes a centralized point for capturing employment activity, initiating required background screening, and ensuring compliance with company screening guidelines.

Another advantage to front end discussions focuses on handling the applicant’s date of birth. Alone, the ATS may omit the date of birth at the retailer’s request to avoid conflicts with discrimination laws. However, for background screening, the date of birth is the most used identifier (after the name) in researching criminal data records; therefore, it is an important tool for maintaining accuracy for the applicant, retailer, and consumer reporting agency. With an early collaborative effort, a solution can be created that satisfies both requirements. The applicant could be asked to enter the date of birth, which would then be masked from the retailer, yet revealed to the BGS for identification purposes, and later disclosed only if the offer is made. Technology provides many options to address this problem and should be investigated at the beginning of the implementation, so costly fixes (or “live with it” attitudes) don’t show up later.

Joe Langford is president of Edge Information Managment, Inc.  He can be reached through the company’s Web site at