Global-Local: Sourcing Global Talent
When it comes to scouring the globe for talent, it's vital to consider both the benefits of a comprehensive global screening policy and the best practices that come along with developing those policies.
By Catherine Aldrich
We're nearly eight years out of the great recession and competition for top talent has never been more fierce. Many companies have a large number of job openings that remain unfilled, and in certain sectors, finding top talent is increasingly a barrier to growth. On top of that, the U.S. labor force continues to age and older workers with years of experience will be moving onto the next phases of their lives or second acts for many years to come. This will only increase demand for workers of all skill types.
The demand for talent has also become global. Increasingly, workers with skill sets needed in the technology, big pharma and consulting sectors have global experiences and have often worked or studied in other countries.
Once companies find the talent they are looking for, they often have the complex challenge of screening their backgrounds and work histories. And then there's the language and cultural barriers that must be considered. Despite this reality, businesses that hope to become thriving global operations must ensure their screening process is thorough across borders.
According to HireRight's 2016 Benchmark Report, 19 percent of employers surveyed screened candidates with a non-U.S. background, a four percent increase since last year. Of this 19 percent who screened candidates with a non-U.S. background, 70 percent have or plan to put a global screening policy in place. These organizations have recognized that having a global screening program not only helps improve their quality of hire, it also protects the company and its employees. Therefore, it's vital to consider both the benefits of a comprehensive global screening policy and the best practices that come along with developing those policies.
Comprehensive understanding of social, legal and cultural norms. Employers must be cognizant of social and cultural norms to provide a positive candidate experience that attracts top talent and leaves a positive impression about your brand. Just as important, employers should also understand what specific types of checks can be performed in each country and what laws and regulations come into play. For example, being aware of another country's data-privacy regulations is just as important globally as it is in the U.S., as the background screening process involves collecting and transferring personally identifiable data.
China, for example, has particularly stringent laws on what information is publicly available for background checks. The New York Times reported on the imprisonment of two well-known antifraud specialists in China because they misused private information to conduct a background check -- information that could be considered public in other countries. This is an extreme example, but goes to show how complex and sometimes convoluting privacy laws can be abroad.
Having a 360 degree view of all social, legal and cultural norms not only reduces liability, it also improves your global reputation. Welcoming workers with diverse backgrounds can underscore an employer's commitment to diversity, broadening the horizons of both the organization itself as well as other employees, and adding valuable new perspectives.
Verification that candidates have the necessary experience for the job. Most applicants in the U.S. expect that they will be subject to a background check as part of the hiring process, although some candidates have realized that verifying work experience and education in other countries may not be as widely adopted among employers. Taking advantage of this hole in an organization's program, some applicants claim degrees from foreign universities or cite employment histories in other countries, hoping that their prospective employer will not check these aspects of their resumes. In fact, HireRight's 2016 Benchmark Report found 88 percent of recruiters, regardless of if they were screening U.S. or non-U.S. backgrounds, have found some kind of discrepancy on a resume.
Another very real issue that's been gaining recognition in recent years is the proliferation of so-called "diploma mills" outside the United States. Many employers are aware of these non-accredited universities based in the U.S., but their numbers are growing in other countries. In fact, The New York Times recently covered a case of massive diploma fraud by a Pakistani company whose "main business has been to take the centuries-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turn it into an Internet-era scheme on a global scale." Many of the company's customers clearly understood they were buying a fake degree, with others being persuaded that their life experiences were enough to earn their diploma.
Verifying degrees and employment overseas often involves both manual and automated processes, as there is no single global database that provides this information. It can be a grueling and resource intensive process with a difficult-to-navigate supply chain of verified information, which requires employers to piece together various sources from disparate databases to get the full picture -- a full time job that most employers don't have the internal resources to take on. Ensuring candidates have the proper qualifications and experience required may not always be the easiest and fastest way to hire, but it is the best way to build a successful team of skilled employees.
Protection against negligent hiring claims. Negligent hiring is a very real and frightening risk for modern organizations, as the number of negligent hiring claims has risen in recent years. Employers are open to negligent hiring claims if a worker, in the U.S. or elsewhere, causes harm to another employee, client or third party and the employer cannot demonstrate that it exercised due diligence when evaluating that candidate's background.
Employers lose negligent hiring cases 75 percent of the time and the average settlement of these lawsuits is typically $1 million (as reported by Inside Council). To the extent permitted by applicable law, verifying the critical aspects of every candidate's background in the same manner -- including those candidates with foreign experience or histories -- can better insulate the organization from these claims. At a minimum, and subject to applicable law, employers should consider screening international candidates for criminal records, employment records and educational records.
With the heightened pressure to fill seats quickly, the disparate regulations across borders and the difficulties in verifying information in other countries, employers can often overlook the importance of thoroughly vetting a candidate to ensure they won't pose a risk to other employees or the company. However, speed should not come at the expense of thoroughness and accuracy. Ensuring your global screening policies are just as comprehensive as those in the U.S. is vital -- and will save you money and time in the long-run, while protecting your brand's reputation and your company's safety.
Catherine Aldrich is vice president of operations at HireRight in Irvine, Calif.