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3 min read

Background Screening Strategy for the Changing Landscape of Contingent Workers

Screening Your Contingent Workforce

Your strategic workforce likely includes traditional workers, your full-time and part-time staff. It may also include alternative workers, also known as contingent, temporary, or gig workers. If you are hiring to help with skills gaps, you may need to partner with a staffing supplier to find candidates faster. For some of you, this may not be a comfortable territory. But like many employment trends that sprung out of the past several months, you’ve adapted quickly. With this shift to include contingent workers, you may have questions about how a staffing agency uses background checks.

What can you ask to make sure hiring decisions of alternative works match the strategy for your traditional team? Let’s get to know how you could screen a contingent workforce.

The State of a Flexible Workforce

First, where is the employment market today?

More companies adapt to the new world of work. The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey found that only 13% of employers surveyed expect to return to pre-pandemic employment levels by July 2021. Some may need to prepare for rapid growth or changes. Hiring on an on-demand basis may help you manage the irregular ebb and flow of demands.

More people are looking for temporary employment too. In a recent Monster poll, 92% of job seekers said they think now is a good time to look into the gig economy. Moreover, the MBO Partners on the State of Independence study anticipated that over half of the U.S. workforce would have contingent employment experience by 2023. It's important to note this study is from 2018. The American worker's current state, could push this up even higher.

Align Agency with Your Screening Strategy

The challenge can be aligning your staffing agency’s selection process with your background screening strategy. We see some staffing agencies have specific packages set up to support the hiring policy of their clients. Think about the gaps that may occur between:

  • Different background screening companies – Every vendor delivers slight differences in background reports and support. Do you trust the quality of information from the background screening company your staffing agency uses?
  • Background check packages – Employers may treat temporary workers with the same hiring criteria as traditional workers. That may mean using the same background check, down to the sources and search scope you need.
  • Adjudication criteria – Evaluating the relevance of a candidate’s criminal history, qualifications, and other background report results is on a spectrum. If your agency is responsible for finding best-match candidates fast, are they evaluating background reports according to your exact hiring criteria?

 What to Ask Your Staffing Supplier

As you look ahead to managing a contingent workforce, you want to know your staffing agency can support your screening strategy.

1. Get to know how agency candidates are screened.


Understanding the potential risks to your organization is crucial to any placement or hiring decisions. You want to know that the make-up of the background check, quality of information, and partner is a good fit. You may want to ask:

  • Who are the agency’s background screening partners?
  • What sources and scope do they search?

2. Decide who makes the hiring decisions.


It helps to know how the agency makes decisions before taking on a candidate. If the agency’s criteria differ from yours, you might ask to weigh in on more alignment with your expectations. You may ask upfront:

  • What are your adjudication criteria?
  • Are your adjudication criteria flexible?

3. Agree on a process that meets your hiring criteria.


Aligning your screening strategy with your staffing agency is not always simple. If you find yourself without a good fit, you might want to ask the staffing supplier:

  • Can they (precisely) replicate your background check packages?
  • If not, can you use your screening partner on agency candidates?

In some cases, a staffing agency may allow you to keep your background check process in-house. You use your preferred background screening provider. That may sound like it could delay your onboarding of temporary talent. But the payoff is there will be no surprises. You know what to expect for a smooth process, including turnaround times, quality of information, and candidate experience. Your own screening partner can ensure meting your package requirements, adjudication, and compliance. Have peace of mind in your contingent workforce hiring.

If you have questions, talk to our team. We are happy to review your background screening strategy. Let us help you plan for what’s ahead, including contingent hiring concerns. You can also check out the archive of our webinar to learn more about background checks for temporary workers. See the recording ››

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