In terms of employment, background screening refers to all of the checks which employers carry out before taking on a new member of staff. Technology is revolutionising the way in which this is done, with smart new computer programs taking a lot of the burden away from recruiters. All indications are that increasingly smarter technology will improve background screening even further.
Blockchain, Cryptography and Verifiable Credentials
We are already seeing the start of the process of verifying identity online, through the government’s verification portal. These systems use a range of techniques and security features to allow people to log in and determine who they are using other pieces of information such as their passport number or National Insurance details. Experts in this area of technology expect this verification to be expanded to other areas soon, especially concerning academic qualifications. Rather than an employer having to ring a University to verify a degree classification, or an exam board to request copy GCSE certificates, this information will be available online.
Many experts are going further, suggesting that candidates will be able to build their own digital “portfolio”, containing their CV, exam certificates, references, passport, and any other credentials which might be useful. This portfolio could be stored in a secure, tamper-proof website, and candidates would just need to provide a secure link to allow employers to log in and see all the information in one place.
Cloud Storage and Remote Working
The Covid-19 pandemic has made home or remote working the norm, with companies using cloud storage to make information available to staff anywhere in the world. Cloud platforms have increased in functionality and reliability over recent years, and it’s now easier than ever to coordinate large teams across the globe. Could identity checking and background screening be carried out by remote staff anywhere in the world in future?
Biometrics or Identity Proof
One of the newest developments is around smartphone apps which help with document verification. Some new apps will allow employers to take a picture of an identity document such as a passport with their smartphone and get an instant answer as to whether the document is genuine. Another option is face-scanning, whereby the applicant takes a selfie using their phone, and the app compares the biometric features on the photograph to the photographs held on already verified identity documents. This technology will replace the old-fashioned methods of scanning or photocopying documents. It’s quicker, simple and gives the employer more confidence that they are verifying the identity of the correct person.
What’s the Benefit?
The aim of all of these screening technologies is to streamline the process. Making things quicker for employers and applicants reduces cost and allows applicants to start work without delay. There are additional cost benefits too, especially when an employer can conduct all of their background checks using one website or app rather than going through several separate processes. There are some implications in terms of GDPR and security, but the benefits hugely outweigh the potential risks.