Employment screening service buyers rank their providers based on quality, scope, and breadth of service.
Life is full of ironies. In our annual examination of the outsourced employment screening market, we adopted a new approach this year in compiling the list. In the past, we relied on industry input to determine the biggest vendors in this segment, and what we discovered was that this was not a reliable indicator. So when we decided to ask buyers about their outsourcing experience, we figured they would be a more independent group of judges.
To do this, we asked dozens of providers to help us in two ways: provide data about themselves and approach customers on our behalf to participate in an online, anonymous satisfaction survey. Here’s the irony: for a group of providers whose mission is to unearth information, an overwhelming majority of them were remarkably stingy about sharing information. As a result, valid customer data were available for only 11 large providers in the marketplace, which may be an indicator of the fragmented nature of the screening services industry. While there are hundreds of vendors that provide employment screening services, most produce less than $500,000 in revenues. And among larger vendors, their ranks are shrinking through mergers and acquisitions.
Of the companies for which we have sufficient statistically valid data, they are clearly leaders in both volume and quality of service. Massive global players like USIS and First Advantage easily process millions of transactions each year, while full-service vendors such as Intelius and Corporate Screening Services emphasize their broad spectrum of services and customized solutions. No matter what your needs are, the providers listed here can clearly address them effectively.
How do we know? A look at the customers that participated in the survey revealed both large and small employers that have simple as well as very complex needs. By and large, buyers were mostly satisfied with their providers, but many indicated that there is always room for improvement. Issues such as data accuracy, timeliness, and compliance seem to be the foremost concerns for users of outsourced screening services. However, they also look to the market for technological innovations, guidance on best practices, and risk management support.
The good news is that through customer and vendor input, it’s clear that the employment screening industry is not static; many spoke of the innovations they receive and the ease with which they can quickly vet candidates. More importantly, they are getting the compliance support and useful data they need to better their hiring process.
Another interesting development among many of the providers listed here is the partnerships they are forming with ATS technology provider. By doing so, employers as well as their outsourced recruitment vendors can more efficiently process candidates and get vacant job openings filled more quickly. Turnkey service has always been high on buyers’ wish list, and these collaborative efforts help to fulfill their wishes.
Although our ranking of employment screening service providers has produced a smaller group of top vendors than last year’s report, it may be more helpful to our buyer readers; they can more quickly weed out the also-rans. Good outsourcing relationships are built on partnerships. A provider unable to produce clients who can vouch for them may be on shaky ground. And that’s one vendor you should avoid at all costs.
No. 1 First Advantage
9 million screened*
First Advantage provides to hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies a comprehensive suite of talent acquisition solutions specifically designed to help reduce the time and cost associated with recruiting, applicant tracking, screening, and ongoing retention processes. The Poway, CA-based company was formed in 2003 by the merger of the screening business of The First American Corporation and U.S. Search.com. During that time, the company has acquired dozens of best-in-class companies to complement its core business lines and broaden products and services.
Workplace Screening Services: Employer services include global solutions; talent acquisition technology; recruiting solutions; assessment solutions; background verifications; fingerprinting/biometrics solutions; due diligence reporting; vendor/business partner verifications; drug-free workplace services; physical examinations/exam management; electronic application; employee assistance program/substance abuse program; employment and income verifications; HR administration; driver qualification file management; and school/church/volunteer and nonprofit screening solutions.
Most Important Metrics: Turnaround times and national database access; global expertise and coverage; capabilities to screen contractors, contingent workers, and volunteers; ability to provide screening, fingerprinting, I-9 verification, and substance abuse testing on single platform.
No. 2 Intelius
Founded in January 2003 by a group of senior executives with extensive experience and track records in the fields of technology development, engineering, and security, the company offers both enterprise and consumer search services. Its FCRA-compliant employment screening solution is complemented by employee monitoring services.
Clients: Skanska; U-Haul; FedEx Ground; Charles Schwab; Banner Bank; Group Health; Chamberlain College of Nursing; American Cancer Society; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Corinthian Colleges; and Direct TV.
Workplace Screening Services: County criminal search; multistate instant criminal search; statewide criminal search; federal criminal search; 50-state sex offender check; SSN verification; DOT verification; education verification; employment verification; license verification; reference checks; exclusion lists (OIG/GSA, FDA debarment, OFAC database, etc.); credit check; DMV/MVR check; skills and behavioral testing; drug testing; fingerprinting; workers’ compensation search; adverse action; international criminal searches; international verification (education and employment); and eligibility determination.
Most Important Metrics: Turnaround time; hit rate; rate of responsiveness; price per applicant; and verification completion rate (employment and education).
No. 3 Corporate Screening Services, Inc.
Corporate Screening’s roots can be traced back to 1987, when it specialized in general investigative services. Since then, the company has focused more on employee background investigations. In 1993, Corporate Screening developed a background product to specifically cater to the pre-employment screening field. Boasting a staff of more than 70 analysts and sales consultants and a network of researchers across the U.S., the Middleburg Heights, OH-based company offers not only screening services but also analysis to clients.
Workplace Screening Services: SSN trace/identification searches; court record searches including criminal and civil at federal, county, and municipal courts; statewide criminal records; fingerprinting; national criminal database searches; sexual offender registry checks; motor vehicle record checks; credit reports; employment, education, and professional license verifications; international checks; news media searches; U.S. and international government database searches; numerous other public record searches; drug testing; employment physical examinations; I-9 form completion; online job application; and self-funded background screening portal.
Most Important Metrics: Client satisfaction rating; mean and median turnaround time; percent decrease in outliers; accuracy rating; customer attrition; hit-to-search ratio; and support response time.
No. 4 HireRight/USIS Commercial Services
45 million* Screened
Following the acquisition of HireRight, the $250 million deal now makes Falls Church, VA-based USIS the largest employment screening company in the world. The combined company provides business solutions and critical information services to more than 27,000 customers, ranging from small businesses to global enterprises, including approximately 21 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and more than 30 percent of the Fortune 100. Customers will have access to a wide range of competitively unique services delivered globally in over 200 countries and territories.
Workplace Screening Services: Background screening; drug and health screening; international screening; extended workforce screening; and employment eligibility verification.
Most Important Metrics: Customer satisfaction; turnaround time; first-time quality; and uptime.
No. 5 Accurate Background, Inc.
1.9 million* Screened
Offering a variety of pre-employment screening services, Accurate Background provides web-based applications or value-added, integrated services delivered through partnerships the company has formed with a number of widely used applicant tracking system (ATS) developers. In addition to conducting criminal searches, national social security locating, fingerprinting, employment verifications, education verifications, professional license verifications, and professional references, Accurate Background also offers drug testing and a variety of compliance support services such as fulfillment of subject notification reports and pre-adverse/adverse action letters, including required report copies and summaries of rights of the consumer.
Clients: Washington Mutual; KBR; JCPenney; Cheesecake Factory; Books-A-Million; Health Net; Safeco; Microsoft; and Boyd Gaming.
Workplace Screening Services: Scalable, proprietary technology solutions for large enterprise, small business, and nonprofit organizations; full compliance services; online applicant entry tools; integration with ATS and HRIS technology; advanced reporting/user management capabilities; form I-9 storage, collection, and verification; vendor management program; fingerprinting services; national SSN/address locator; felony/misdemeanor searches; statewide criminal searches; federal criminal searches; sex offender registry searches; international screening; education verifications; employment verifications; consumer credit reports; motor vehicle reports; drug screening; OFAC searches; basic terrorist searches; professional references; personal references; professional license verifications; county civil searches; federal civil searches; and fraud and abuse control information system.
Most Important Metrics: Turnaround time; data integrity; price; and overall customer satisfaction.
No. 6 Verifications, Inc.
More than 5 million* Screened
In business for more than 20 years, Verifications provides services to more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100. Since 1987, the Minneapolis-based firm has offered outsourced pre-employment screening and applicant processing services. It operates facilities in Watertown, Aberdeen, and Mitchell, SD as well as Bismarck, ND. Verifications is ISO certified in both its background screening and substance abuse testing operations.
Workplace Screening Services: County, statewide, and federal criminal background investigations; international criminal record checks; academic, employment; SSN and professional license verifications; SSN traces; National Criminal Record Locator traces; driving records checks; government watch list checks; drug and alcohol testing; assessment testing; web-based reference checking; electronic fingerprinting; electronic I-9 processing; legal right to work checks; automated on-boarding; and a wide range of other services.
Most Important Metrics:
No. 7 IntelliCorp Records, Inc.
2.7 million* Screened
IntelliCorp’s business-to-business client base includes large, medium, and small companies in addition to a large portion of the nonprofit sector. Markets served include but not limited to banking/finance, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, medical, retail, staffing, tenant screening, transportation, and volunteer organizations. IntelliCorp also has a Service Partner division, which serves the wholesale data market.
Workplace Screening Services: Adjudication (scoring); batch processing; client-specific customized solutions; dedicated account management and integration options; bundled packages include criminal searches (instant, single-county, federal, sex offender), bankruptcies/liens/judgments, civil searches, credit reports, drug testing, education/employment verifications, evictions history, former last name criminal searches, international searches, FACIS, motor vehicle reports, professional licensing, SSN verification/address history, and terrorist database.
Most Important Metrics: Hit ratios; turnaround times; report accuracy; quality assurance programs to measure accuracy of data entry and correctness of results reported; completeness of results (monitoring that all cases, charges, and sentence details have been reported); FCRA compliance; consistency of reporting; website performance; and strict privacy and security policies.
No. 8 ADP, Inc.
5.8 million* Screened
As the largest outsourced payroll service provider in the U.S., ADP is also one of the top outsourced background screening vendors as well. Pre-employment solutions also include proprietary assessment tools to help hiring managers decide whether a candidate is a good fit for an opening. The company makes available consultants and additional online tools to help with the selection process. In addition to background screening and HR/compliance support, ADP provides applicant management and tax credit services as part of its complete pre-employment suite. These pre-employment services are integrated with ADP HR solutions.
Workplace Screening Services: SSN validation; address verification; criminal court records; driving records; credit records; Workers’ Compensation claims records; employment verification; education verification; credential verification; personal verification; department of health and human services check; government sanctions registry; sex offender registry; and adverse action service.
Most Important Metrics: Cycle time; report accuracy; vendor performance; and customer/contact survey data.
No. 9 Pre-employ.com Family of Companies
1.1 million* Screened
Founded in 1994, Pre-employ.com was built as a pure play background screening company designed to automate the highly manual and slow process of pre-employment background screening. The company, which provides services to Fortune 1000 companies, was one of the first in the industry to design and implement a web-based customer portal enabling 24/7 access to online order placement and reporting. Its Custweb application has grown into a robust, customer-centric portal offering applicant tracking and talent management systems, drug and assessment screening, applicant data entry, background check report grading, executive summary reporting, and other integrated solutions.
Workplace Screening Services: Pre-employment screening; I-9/E-verify compliance solutions; applicant tracking; job board; unemployment insurance claims management; work opportunity tax credit services; volunteer tracking/screening; and applicant-supplied background checks.
Most Important Metrics: Speed, accuracy, and engaging the applicant to ensure a pleasant yet thorough on-boarding experience.
No. 10 Kroll
1.9 million* Screened
Kroll provides organizations worldwide with comprehensive screening services that help them mitigate risks through its domain expertise and technology. For more than 30 years, Kroll has helped companies, government agencies and individuals reduce their exposure to risk and capitalize on business opportunities. Kroll is an operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies. Clients include corporations, law firms, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, sovereign governments, and government agencies.
Workplace Screening Services: Social Security information/address histories; county, statewide, and federal criminal records; multijurisdictional criminal records; motor vehicle driving records; verifications of employment, education, and professional licenses; sex offender registries; civil records; consumer credit reports; industry sanction lists; global watchlists; vendor screening; investment-related research; substance abuse testing; employment physicals; and I-9 services.
Most Important Metrics: Data accuracy; access to primary source data; global capabilities; legal compliance; information procurement ethics; and client service.
No. 11 LexisNexis (ChoicePoint)
12 million* Screened
In the largest acquisition this year in the screening industry, LexisNexis’ parent company Reed Elsevier acquired ChoicePoint for $4.1 billion to create not only one of the biggest employment screening vendors in the market but also one of the providers of customized content, analytic, and workflow solutions for legal and risk professionals. The new entity boasts a broad network of services and geographic presence.
Workplace Screening Services: Integration services with ATS and HRIS systems; online applications; electronic fingerprint services; traditional and instant drug testing; employment eligibility verification services (I-9); terrorist watch list and sanctions searches; contractor screening; workplace theft and fraud exchange services; global employment screening; compliance management solutions; criminal checks; education and employment verification; specialized screening solutions for retail, financial services, transportation, and healthcare verticals; and volunteer and nonprofit screening programs.
Most Important Metrics: Customer satisfaction; quality; speed; accuracy; reliability; service; and value.
* Number screened is self reported by each company. HRO Today asked the providers for individuals screened, but the volume may also reflect the number of screening transactions conducted annually.