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2021 Background Check Trends: The Latest Industry Developments

Blog_Background check trends report

As an HR leader you want to stay in touch with any industry developments. We get asked about how other employers screen all the time. That’s why Verified Credentials published the 2021 In-Depth Screening Guide: Trends Report. Our annual guide to all the latest trends in background screening based on our own exclusive 2020 data. Despite the past year’s challenges, the data shows stability in how companies use background checks to access candidate information. But there are some new developments. From criminal background checks to international searches. New data can offer unique insights for those who want to stay ahead of the curve. Here’s a look at some of the 2021 background check trends for HR professionals.

Download the complete 2021 In-Depth Screening Guide: Trends Report

Increased Layering of Criminal Searches

Criminal history searches have long been the most common background check performed across all industries. That trend continued in 2020, with the data showing a minor uptick in usage rates. According to the research, 74% of all organizations now use a National Criminal Database search. The database doesn’t offer records directly but does provide potential records in jurisdictions across the country. The data shows that over half of possible records found with a National Criminal Database search are committed in locations not disclosed by applicants.

But the data also shows that more companies are now layering searches. They’re using a combination of background checks to search for potential records. Specifically, the number of organizations using statewide criminal history searches increased 22% over the last two years. Seven out of ten employers now use statewide searches.

Layering searches allows companies to cast a wider net. Depending on the search mix used, they might look at more than residence county records. Many employers also search records that appear in other counties across the state. This can be significant for some companies. As employers try to fill gaps in job candidate data, it seems more will look to layering searches as a tool.

Sex Offender Searches Rise for Select Industries

Across all industries, roughly 58% of companies search the National Sex Offender Registry. When we look at larger or mid-sized companies only, that number jumps to 85%. Overall, the numbers show a 19% increase in organizations that use a sex offender search. But when you dive deeper into the data, it becomes clear that it is due to National Sex Offender Registry searches booming within specific industries. Here are the top four sectors with the largest increases in search usage:

Some employers may not conduct a National Sex Offender Registry search because they believe National Criminal Database search would return any sex offender records. But that's not always the case. A National Sex Offender Registry search can be another tool to ensure they are searching the broadest number of records.

Background Checks Go Global

The events of 2020 forced many companies to not only shift how their employees work but also where. With technology making it easier to work remotely, many employers don't see location as a barrier. They are more willing to consider hiring people regardless of where they live. In fact, it’s expected that the trend of more remote work will continue, particularly for high skilled jobs.

For companies looking to hire employees outside the U.S., many HR professionals use international screening solutions. Over 11% of all companies use at least one global solution. This may include criminal history, employment and academic verifications, and credit searches outside of the U.S. However, mid-sized to large companies are almost three times more likely to conduct at least one type of international search. Our research shows that 31% of those companies utilize global screening solutions. As hiring trends continue to evolve, employers may want to adjust background checks to address new needs.

The Future of Background Screening

Overall, the 2021 Trends Report doesn’t show many major swings in the way industries use background checks. Instead, it largely reinforces the fact that most HR experts rely on tried-and-true methods for mitigating risk. But the devil is in the details, as they say. When examined closely, you can see small shifts in screening practices that represent larger changes. Companies are changing the way they operate and what they want to know before hiring a candidate. By staying on top of developing trends and mirroring industry best practices, HR can continue to play a vital role in the overall success of their companies.

Ready to dive deeper? Download the full 2021 In-Depth Screening Guide: Trends Report to explore all the latest shifts in the industry.

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