Self-sovereign identity and digital credentials are set to transform screening processes, enabling a more qualitative, employee-focused approach and holistic view of candidates
The gig economy has transformed the labour market over the last decade, driven by the rise of companies such as Uber and Deliveroo. A study last year by the University of Hertfordshire found that one in ten working-age adults in the UK now work in the gig economy, which is twice as many as there were in 2016. However, its growing influence is exposing the challenges that exist in the area of candidate screening and onboarding. Traditional referencing procedures continue to be labour intensive, often delayed while waiting for companies to respond. Every organisation has their own policy on referencing and employers often provide the same reference on multiple occasions, as people move from job to job. This can delay the screening process and impact onboarding timeframes. And with all the focus now on culture, amplified by increases in remote working, human resources teams want both a quicker turnaround and a better understanding of candidates.
“Referencing has always been a challenge and there’s often a sense of Groundhog Day and duplication of effort,” says Georgina Wilson, director of strategy and planning at Vero Screening, the largest UK independent employment screening company. “Particularly when moving quickly between roles, the need to repeat referencing procedures can frustrate both the candidates, who have to go through the same process and delays, and HR because it’s a costly and admin-heavy task.
“And the days of references which gather detailed feedback are largely gone. These days, it tends more towards a basic, tickbox quantitative assessment of a person’s time with companies, based on dates of employment and position held.” New data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, which give data subjects more control over their personal data, partly solve these issues by allowing people to request access to their previous screening reports and then share them with new employers. But how can employers be confident in the validity of such reports, coming directly from the prospective employee as they do?
Powered by blockchain, digital credentials will address the issue of authenticity and credibility, while simultaneously speeding up employment verification dramatically and driving down costs.
This will leave time and money for HR to focus on gaining a more holistic view of candidates. In this model, employers can shift their focus to complementary services, such as social media screening which offer a better sense of an individual and have more direct relevance to culture. These emerging technologies will enable a more qualitative, employee-focused approach to screening, with faster turnarounds better suited to today’s more fluid workforce, which moves around at pace.
“We read about blockchain everywhere at the moment. It’s being leveraged in all sorts of sectors and while it’s not at the forefront of the HR sector at the moment, we’ve seen a lot of movement over the last year, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and it’s starting to happen,” says Steve Woodrough, chief technology officer at Vero Screening. “It certainly needs to. Automation technologies are speeding up recruiting processes, but the average candidate screening process can still take up to ten days, which is just not acceptable in the gig economy where people need to be onboard much quicker. Blockchain will help accelerate that. ”There are still hurdles to overcome before digital credentials and self-sovereign identity are integrated into screening processes. It’s a very large, complex model with many stakeholders – data subject, owner, issuer, recipient – spread across millions of different companies and individuals around the world. The Velocity Network Foundation, which Vero has joined, is looking to establish the model around which data will start to be shared, with companies and their HR systems feeding into an “internet of careers” ecosystem.
“Screening will still be critical to the safe onboarding of new employees. But with digital CVs we’ll be able to use verified information to speed up and enhance the process. We can then shift our focus to dynamic rather than static checks,” says Woodrough. “Candidates will carry with them a certified professional history, including qualifications and roles with other employers. That’s the static credentials. Then we can layer on top the dynamic checks that change over time to provide a quick, comprehensive and fully up-to-date report, transforming the screening process. ”