Breaking up is hard to do — especially when you’ve invested a lot in the relationship.
That’s not just true of personal relationships, but in our professional relationships as well, particularly the vendor partners we rely on to get everyday tasks done.
In some cases, companies are quick to realize it’s time to change vendors. When the cost of a service goes up without a corresponding increase in value, for example, it may be time to cut ties — or at least start doing some comparison shopping. In other cases, vendors simply disappear by going out of business or being acquired, leaving customers scrambling for alternatives. For the most part, though, it can seem easy to stick with the status quo when there’s no dramatic or compelling event that makes switching an obvious next move.
HR departments or other business functions that initially chose a background check vendor, for instance, may have gone through a detailed review of vendors that took a lot of time and effort. Even if the service has become a bit poor or there are some gaps in what’s offered, the temptation might be to stick with the devil you know.
Unfortunately, waiting too long can put companies in jeopardy of greater risks that impact their business in multiple ways. These can range from a failure to attract the best possible talent to falling out of step with background check laws such as the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). At that point, the process of switching is compounded by the added pressure of dealing with a crisis or burning need, which may get in the way of a more thoughtful selection process.
This is not unlike dealing with an employee who once met or exceeded expectations but slowly slid into a pattern of showing up late, missing deadlines, and making costly mistakes. It’s always better to be proactive in assessing the talent and capabilities you have in place against the needs of the organization.
With that in mind, here’s a checklist of things to consider as part of an ongoing self-assessment of your background check vendor that may help identify the moments to form a new relationship:
1. Your Background Check Provider Can’t Keep Pace With Your Business Growth
When sales are strong and market share can be measured in the shape of a hockey stick on a chart, the challenges you might eventually face as a result might not be easy to spot.
With success often comes the need to scale many different areas of the business at once, including additional hires to keep pace with customer demand. This might include not only staffing up at your existing headquarters but also in entirely new locations. A company that goes from a regional to national presence, for instance, may need a surplus of additional recruits.
A background check vendor that may have offered the right service levels before you reached this tipping point may not be able to scale accordingly. Ask yourself:
• What’s been the turnaround time on background checks to date and how will that affect hiring processes depending on an increase in volume?
• What kind of errors have you experienced up until now? Will your business growth increase risk of further errors?
• How would you evaluate the current vendor in terms of service and support? How might your business growth affect the quality of the support you receive?
2. You’ve Just Moved To A New Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
For most organizations, an ATS helps automate and centrally manage some of the key steps in a recruitment process. This includes everything from uploading cover letters and resumes to scheduling interviews and even offering test assignments. Oftentimes, ATS vendors offer guidance and advice on the best background check vendors that most easily integrate with their platforms to provide a seamless candidate experience.
Think twice before running with that recommendation straight out of the gate. It’s important that you do your own due diligence and research the background check vendor options available before making a decision. The point is to think holistically about deploying an ATS and the pieces of the technology puzzle that will ensure you maximize your return on investment.
3. You’re Getting Bogged Down With Manual Processes
The whole point of the background check is to get the right information back. When that check becomes a deluge of information that requires you to weed out what’s relevant or adds unnecessary paperwork on your desk, you’re not getting the advantages that automation should provide.
Look in particular at the extent to which the tools you use today do a good job of everything from processing the initial request, to providing authorization and disclosure for a background check, to delivery of the final report, as well as filters that allow you to adjudicate the details you get back in an efficient manner. You don’t want to add to your manual workload when your teams may need to spend that time with processes like Individualized Assessment.
4. You’re Going Through An HR Transformation
Human Resources has become the heart of how organizations across every industry:
a) Identify the talent and skills they need
b) Create the best possible environment to attract and onboard the people who possess those skills
c) Define the pay and policies that turn them into loyal employees
In that sense, a background check becomes far more than a means to an end. It allows organizations that are transforming themselves around the notion of an outstanding employee experience to minimize delays and hire with greater fairness and transparency, while leaving HR teams time to focus on key strategic decisions rather than lower-level tasks.
5. You’re Struggling To Stay Compliant
Issues of privacy, anti-discrimination, diversity, and inclusion now make headlines nearly every day, underscoring the importance of hiring in a way that complies with the FCRA as well as other hiring laws. This isn’t an area where having a small HR team serves as an excuse. All companies, no matter their size, need to offer employment opportunities that treat people the way the law demands.
Your background check provider should not only explicitly state they are compliant with such laws, but they should also be recognized for its best practices and the expertise of its team. Look for a vendor that not only offers the right products and services but demonstrates an ongoing effort to educate its customer base about regulatory and compliance issues. In other words, look for a partner in compliance who will work with you to minimize risk.
Even if switching vendors seems like a lot of work, the payoff is worth it. Thinking about what will work in the long-term provides a foundation for a relationship that will not only last but also provides value far into the future.