Security alert: Candidate screening trends in 2024
Matrix Security Watchdog’s MD Susie Thomson considers what employers should look out for to secure the best talent at minimum risk.
As budgets tighten further, competition for talent intensifies and the cost-of-living crisis rolls on, 2024 looks like creating a perfect storm when it comes to optimising recruitment security. Ensuring job candidates are who they say they are and pose no risk to staff and the organisations they work for will become even more complex.
Financial pressures are mounting on both employees and organisations. Increasingly sophisticated methods of deception will continue to be developed as innovation in artificial intelligence progresses. This means securing the talent needed to drive performance and productivity, and ultimately success, has arguably never been more hazardous.
Happy New Year? It certainly could be if the necessary steps are taken to ensure recruitment processes are watertight. This demands making sure the following trends are taken into account…
Reference fraud on the rise
Bonefide or bogus? Identifying whether a reference is legitimate will become increasingly difficult in 2024. This will be driven by the practice of hunting in packs continuing to grow and becoming more targeted and coordinated. This involves groups applying for a role together in the hope that at least one chancer will get through the vetting process.
Repelling attacks of this nature requires highly coordinated and collaborative screening. Screeners acting alone are unlikely to pick up common traits in group assaults that those working together, communicating regularly and experienced at identifying group activity will detect. Using data from payroll, open banking and HMRC is also a highly reliable way to confirm candidate’s credentials by verifying job title, employer and length of employment.
The moonlighting moral dilemma
In 2024, the growing trend of people taking on second and third jobs is likely to continue as they struggle to make ends meet. The push by employers to get employees back into the office could deepen the problem. Recent press reports suggest the Civil Service is now insisting on three days in the office. Meanwhile, Amazon is considering linking bonuses to bums on seats. This will only increase the financial burden on staff through higher travel and childcare expenses and could fuel moonlighting.
This presents employers with a growing moral dilemma in 2024. They have a duty of care to their staff to make sure they are not exhausted. That they are working in a safe environment. That they are not so financially compromised that they are forced into breaking the terms of their contract by taking a second or third job. At the same time, they must protect their organisation and staff against the safety and performance risk overworking can bring. Careful handling is required to deal with this delicate situation. This should surely start with employers instigating more open and honest conversations with their staff, and trying to provide the necessary advice and support.
Yes, there is some good news! European screening organisations have learned from the experiences of their US counterparts and are introducing an accreditation scheme to verify quality and experience in 2024. This will help employers to secure the best possible screening services. It will also make it tougher for companies to succeed that have little screening experience and simply want to ride the wave of growth in demand for candidate checks.
Accreditation will drive increased customer confidence in contracting with accredited screening agencies who have the right infrastructure, processes and knowledge to protect their clients’ businesses. It will introduce a level of professionalism to the European background checking industry, creating a critical procurement differentiator with those players who haven’t invested in the right controls around data security and who lack respect for international data protection regulations and cultural considerations. Importantly, early introduction of accreditation in the region will help stem any chance of litigation gaining a foothold in UK and Europe with the same prevalence as in the US.
Ringing in the new
Addressing these trends in 2024 will ensure employers can build the best possible teams to cope with the challenges the new year brings, while also minimising risk to their staff and their organisation. This will be made easier by the accreditation scheme, which will help ensure the right screening partner can be secured. And with fines increasing in January for those organisations that employ people not legally able to work in the UK, it has never been more important to have a robust screening process in place.
This makes it vital in 2024 for employers to view candidate verification as less of a tick box exercise and more as the business-critical process that it is. And give their suppliers the time they need to screen thoroughly.
Here’s to a prosperous risk-free New Year for all!