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Four Trends Changing Recruitment: Opportunities In Background Screening These four key trends have shaped modern HR practices considerably -and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future- with big implications on the use of employee screening.

By James Randall

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The employment landscape has changed considerably in the last few years, and these changes have significantly challenged assumptions about the fundamentals of HR management and the use of background checks. Rapid developments in technology, paired with an increasingly global workforce, have created a seismic shift in working habits and best practice. These four key trends have shaped modern HR practices considerably -and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future- with big implications on the use of employee screening.

Recruiting the millennial generation

In some ways, traditional roles have been somewhat reversed in the recruitment process, especially since attracting new and younger generations of talent remains a top priority for businesses in the region. With around 2.5 million millennials currently residing in the UAE, they are an attractive recruitment source for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the country.

In the past, where stress-inducing tests and probing interviews were part and parcel of the recruitment process, there has been a shift in companies now placing greater emphasis on a more positive candidate experience. Aiming to portray their company and brand in a good light, professionals are understandably focused on creating a positive experience for each individual with whom they interact.

With an increased focus on onboarding young talent, many companies have taken the opportunity to review their whole recruitment process, from where and how they search for new employees, through to the interview process and the candidate's experience during employment background checks. By ensuring that the whole process is as user-friendly and mobile as possible, companies are able to connect with the millennial generation and position themselves as a tech-savvy place to work.

The personal touch

Across the world there has been a change in how people search for jobs and where recruiters find potential employees. It's no longer about applicants mailing hundreds of CV in the hope of receiving a phone call. Employers also increasingly rely on online communities to find available talent. Overall, there has been a shift to relying on networking, building relationships with recruiters and companies and this is now fundamental to the job market. In the UAE, with its limited postal service, "who you know' has always been integral to the job market , especially for smaller businesses who are looking to recruit locally.

Relying on word-of-mouth and personal recommendations should only go so far though and independently verifying a candidate's qualifications and professional experience will help an organisation see the full picture before making their final hiring decisions.

The use of AI and "smart' technology

Facing an increasingly competitive talent market and looking to save on time, HR professionals and recruiters have begun handing high-volume CV reviews over to technology. Artificial intelligence has also been used in the sector for standardised job matching and in the creation of chatbots to aid candidates.

Despite the array of positives that technological advances bring, there are inevitable downsides. For example, AI is programmed to spot patterns of behaviour, such as conscious or unconscious bias, which could mean that an ideal candidate might be overlooked. Others argue that technology simply doesn't have the same human insight or "gut feeling' as a person, like an individual's cultural fit with an organisation. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in background screening too, but the human element will never be removed from the equation.

Rising regulatory scrutiny

Whenever changes to employment, governance or data protection laws take place, organisations can end up being put under the spotlight, particularly regarding their recruitment practices. The implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year has mandated a fundamental change to the way companies handle and store individuals' data, as well as established recruitment methods.

Although the regulation does not extend to the Middle East, if you have a client or customer from an EU country and you collect data from them, you are subject to the GDPR's rules and regulations. Gathering employees' data is fundamental to the work of HR and recruitment, so if this does apply to your organisation, taking steps to ensure compliance with the new regulations will continue to be a top priority.

In light of these changes, the processes applied for background screening are being scrutinised as well, with careful review of processing activities and taking care to ensure that the candidate's rights are protected. Companies who manage screening in-house should validate that their processes are compliant and may consider outsourcing the function to background screening providers who have already established operations and data handling processes that take GDPR into consideration.

The landscape of recruitment continues to change, and so does how employment screening fits into that. From technology to transparency, the HR community faces both significant challenges and big opportunities in their relentless pursuit of finding the perfect hire.

Related: Making The Right Choice: Building A Screening Policy For Job Candidates

James Randall

Regional Sales Manager, HireRight Middle East

James Randall is the Regional Sales Manager at HireRight Middle East.

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