For many knowledge-services organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, recruiting during the era of Covid-19 means taking a leap in the dark. However, there are many systems available to assist in the process. Companies can call on a range of experts and instruments to help with the trying task of screening workers remotely. These include screening professionals, local health clinics and specialists in criminal and credit background checking, as well as software programmes used in employee profile building.
Global services provider Sitel Group uses third party companies specializing in background checks for processing its federal and state requirements in the US, as well as the national and local checks in Latin America.
The company processes over 50,000 background checks annually in the Americas. Most of them are completed electronically through third-party vendors.
Police checks are also an important part of the process in Latin America. In Panama, local police records can be requested online, although there are minor delays, says Pete Weaklend, Sitel Group SVP.
In Nicaragua, employers can purchase local police records at a police kiosk or authorized dealer and the record is printed without delay. In Mexico, the company uses a third party company called CREA which sources job references, labor lawsuits and any criminal history. CREA provides local background checks electronically. Remote hires, according to Weaklend, do not have to go anywhere and there are no delays.
Weaklend said his company has adapted quickly to a work-from-home arrangement. That agility has led to “tremendous new growth in the past few months in Latin America,” Weaklend said.
“We utilize DocuSign for all necessary paperwork and we complete background checks 100 percent remotely in most cases. In states or regions where some type of fingerprinting is required, we provide our candidates with the information and resources they need to access and schedule those services themselves,” Weakland added.
Remote Recruitment by Experts
“Across the region, recruiters for BPO and IT positions have tapped out some of the major urban centers where they operate, and have had to go further afield,” Robillard explained. As a result, in-person interviews were impractical.
“The most integrated employers download CV data directly into applicant tracking systems (ATS) such as SuccessFactors, or Workday. Once they have chosen an applicant for next stage screening, they already have the data and they simply pass it to their screening provider,” Robillard said.
Core background screening processes include verification of applicant identity, academic and employment histories and criminal court searches.
“We have found some Nearshore providers of IT and BPO also require a review of credit history and criminal watchlists,” Robillard said, “none of which require physical visits.”
The most challenging part of the process has been the drug testing requirements. Robillard says drug testing requires a candidate to visit the collection site closest to where they live. Laboratories across the region collect and test for the presence of drugs in applicants.
Covid-19, meanwhile, has accelerated the use of video interviewing. Even electronic signatures for employment contracts are steadily replacing original signatures, Robillard said.
“There will always be a place for [face-to-face interaction] with applicants during the talent acquisition process,” he said. “However, employers who have adopted cloud-based background screening processes…. have fared much better than those who rely on [face-to-face interaction].”
Adapting to Suit Client Needs
“On average, we are able to complete the background check process within five days in the US,” says Weaklend. However, he notes that some states took up to three weeks while Covid-19 was at its peak.
The company has also experienced challenges associated with federal and state offices closing due to Covid-19, during a period when it was hiring thousands of agents.
“In most cases, we were able to receive federal background check results and gain agreement from our clients to begin training with these candidates prior to their background check completion from state and local authorities,” Weaklend said. “If issues appeared on background checks that were returned, we immediately removed these individuals from the training process; no agents began operational support for a client before their background check was complete.”
Chad Carlson, CEO of the Results Company which has sites in the Philippines, the United States and Mexico indicates that WFH has mainly been implemented using old staff, so screening new hires has not been a major project. However, the company is now scaling up these locations and adding new centers – creating more screening work.
Nevertheless, Carlson says that background checks depend on client requirements. Some clients do not require a complex screening process. Accounts include media, entertainment, healthcare, telecommunications, retail, education and utility services, plus agent aid and customer aid in digital automation.
Results also acquired a digital enablement company last year which offers three phases of automation, using bots so customers can be more productive with levels of engagement. The company is also expanding its geographic footprint.
“WFH varies by country. We have over 30 percent working from home in the Philippines, over 90 percent Nearshore and 60 percent domestically,” Carlson said. “WFH was activated mostly with old staff. Now that we are seeking to scale up, we are looking at new hires in that area also. We will have to see how that evolves”
Background checks, he said, depend on client needs. In general, they include criminal and credit background checks. There are also varying degrees of drug screening for which the Results Company works with local clinics.
The Results Company has six sites in the Philippines, two in Mexico and 20 in the United States. “We are hiring everywhere right now,” Carlson said.
Recommendations from Sitel
Sitel has recommendations for companies seeking to recruit remotely and perform background checks for WFH. “When it comes to background checks – being able to source, receive and review background checks electronically is key,” Weaklend said.
“This allows instant screening through online tools provided by local governments. We also encourage [companies] to use a reputable, trustworthy provider, such as HireRight, to support you in this process. In addition, we always try to get the background check process started as soon as possible in the hiring journey to ensure we maximize return of results prior to the start of training.”
He notes that in Latin America, Panama uses a third-party company called DataJuridica that provides local criminal and civil background checks for Panamanian citizens in cases where the police record takes more time than expected.
“We always suggest having a backup plan in case the original provider encounters difficulties that causes delays in,” Weaklend concluded.