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May 16, 2017

The debate on immigration and the global economy has never been fiercer. At the same time, competition for top talent continues to grow, as employers look to an international workforce to fill talent gaps and expand operations across the globe. In 2015, 16.7% of the U.S. workforce was foreign born, about 26.3 million workers. Since then, the number has continued to rise.

Despite uncertainties around global immigration, employers have an optimistic attitude on hiring internationally. According to a recent US study, 55% of employers expect to increase their foreign workforce, up from 34% in 2016. While this is good news for global candidates in the talent pool, 83% of employers in this same poll believe challenges of the U.S. immigration system have an impact on hiring and retention strategies.

While employers can’t do much to mitigate the complexities surrounding immigration policy, they can reduce the stress of verifying international backgrounds. Regardless of global immigrations policies, instituting a comprehensive background check process for all candidates provides a better quality of hire – a paramount concern for organizations. How can companies looking to screen global workers ease the process and mitigate risk with changing regulations and increased uncertainties?

Establish a comprehensive global screening policy

Developing a policy specific to global screening is an important responsibility for employers. Even though some organizations may not have international locations, it doesn’t mean that potential employees don’t have international backgrounds. Certain industries, like healthcare, now have large percentages of non-US born workers.

In HireRight’s 2016 Employment Screening Benchmark Report, we found that 15% of employers screen the international backgrounds of U.S.-based employees; 13% said they screen employees based outside of the U.S. Yet few employers — less than half those doing international screening — have a policy around it.  It’s becoming more critical for all organizations, even local ones, to create a comprehensive global screening policy that covers all candidates in every location and of every background.

Organizations must also take international differences into account when screening employees, particularly around cultural norms, language barriers and varied screening regulations. For example, Singapore and South Korea have laws limiting the use of personal information for certain purposes, meaning much of the data that would be useful in a background check is considered legally protected or otherwise restricted. This effectively elevates the need for transparency in the screening process by the employer with their candidates and likely reduces the purposes for which they can lawfully consider such personal data.

Not only can a well thought out global screening process help protect employers from legal and regulatory challenges, it also provides a positive candidate experience and lends a favorable impression of the organization internationally.

Do they have the necessary experience?

No matter the employee, an organization should always take care to thoroughly check candidate backgrounds. This includes those who lived, worked or studied outside the U.S. to ensure they have the necessary credentials and experience for the position. Data from our 2016 Benchmark Report found that 88% of the employer respondents found a misrepresentation or lie on a resume.

A thorough background check policy helps improve the quality of the organization’s hires, allowing businesses to be selective amongst the best talent in the competitive hiring landscape, from a variety of backgrounds and across all job types and levels. Just as important, it may also help protect the hiring company from negligent hiring claims – a very real threat when organizations don’t take the necessary steps to verify candidate information.

Employers looking to hire across the globe should not be discouraged by more complex candidate backgrounds, as diverse organizations can benefit the bottom line. In addition to filling the talent and skills gaps, increased diversity can have a positive effect on creativity and customer satisfaction, with the addition of different skills, cultures and ideas. When done right, a comprehensive screening plan not only helps employers mitigate risks and make the most of global talent, it also creates a positive experience for candidates.

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