Background Screening Trends - American Society of Employers - Susan Chance

Background Screening Trends

background screeningASE is a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). Recently, the PBSA, along with the HR Research Institute, completed a research report, “Background Screening: Trends in the U.S. and abroad 2021.”  Of the responding employers with locations in the U.S., 95% stated that their company does some type of background screening, and 77% of those companies have a documented screening policy.

This is the 5th year for the background trends survey, and for the first time in the five years, protecting company reputation rated higher than legal and regulatory reasons for running employment background checks. The 2021 survey lists the top three reasons for screening as:

1.       Protect employees and customers (76%)

2.       Improve quality of hires (52%)

3.       Protect company reputation (41%)

A few states have moved to fingerprint checks when there are potential records over the last few years. There is a mindset in the U.S. that “fingerprint-based background checks are the gold standard”, but that is not necessarily correct. There are flaws with this type of check as results can be incomplete and can include records that an employer should not consider, yet the FBI fingerprint process does not allow for the applicant to dispute the results.

The National Employment Law Project, a workers’ employment rights advocacy group, stated that “nearly half of FBI rap sheets failed to include information on the outcome of a case after an arrest—for example, whether a charge was dismissed or otherwise disposed of without a conviction, or if a record was expunged … routine omissions [which] seriously prejudice the employment prospects of an estimated 600,000 workers every year.”  This can create problems for employers.


However, the survey showed that most U.S. employers use state, county, and national criminal databases for their screening rather than fingerprint checks. Only 19% of the responding U.S. employers use fingerprint-based checks while 89% use statewide/county/regional/local sources for their checks and 84% use a national criminal database. The survey also reports that 94% of the companies with U.S. locations run criminal background checks while only 75% of those respondents run non-criminal background checks.


The U.S. companies reported using the following services as part of their background screening:

·       Identity check – 81%

·       Motor Vehicle/Driving Records – 75%

·       Employment Verification – 72%

·       Sex Offender Registry – 68%

·       Drug and Alcohol Testing – 65%

·       Education Verification – 64%

·       Professional License Verification – 60%

·       Credit/Financial – 51%

·       Social Media – 20%


U.S. employers also reported running the following checks on an on-going basis:

·       Criminal – 67%

·       Motor Vehicle/Driving Records – 58%

·       Drug Testing – 45%

·       License Monitoring – 32%

·       Healthcare Sanctions – 17%

·       Credit – 16%

·       Social Media – 8%

72% of the responding employers both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. feel that it is important to have access to international background screening. In the next five years 33% of those companies plan to hire more people from outside of their companies’ locations which will make the international screening more important.

Over the last few years more companies have stated they want a background screening provider with a system that can integrate with the employers ATS/HRIS system, however, only 15% of the responding companies, both U.S. and international, selected integration as a reason for considering a background screening provider. While most employers will ask about costs first, that was the 3rd in the list of most important considerations for background screening providers at 54%. Quality and accuracy were the number one reasons at 83%, and speed was the number two reason at 58%.


Additional ASE Resources
ASE Background Screening – If you need assistance with your background screening process, but can’t add headcount, ASE can help.  We provide full-service background screening services.  To discuss your needs, contact Susan Chance.



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