Military Employment Background Checks Slowing Down Hiring

Nick Fishman

Former president George W. Bush took to the airwaves this week to announce a worthy program he is launching to help veterans transition back to civilian life and treat those that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. In doing so, President Bush pointed out that unemployment rates for veterans now hovers at an alarming rate of approximately 10% and while this number has decreased since last year (11.7%), the overall U.S. unemployment rate is just beneath 7%.

Why is this happening?

This is a troubling problem and one we hope employers will take note of.  At EmployeeScreenIQ, we actually go out of our way to recruit former military personnel. As much as I would love to grandstand and say that we do it out of the goodness of our hearts, we find that those who have served in the military make for great employees. They’re well-trained, process-oriented, dedicated, disciplined, engaged and empowered. And compared to the types of decisions they might have been making in the military, civilian life decisions typically don’t faze them.

Expediting the Background Screening Process

As this issue has come into the spotlight, we’ve taken time to reflect what could be done to help veterans when it comes to employment background checks. If you’ve ever tried to confirm a candidate’s military service, you know that the process is both cumbersome and lengthy.

The best way to confirm military service and access personnel records is to request DD-214  Separation Documents. Information contained in this report can include dates of service, rank, experience, discharge and/or current military status. Sounds kind of like an employment verification, right? Well, it should be, but unfortunately the military has developed an anachronistic system for providing the information. You can’t just pick up the phone or tap into an electronic database and receive information after providing consent from the subject of the report. Instead, you can only request these records by mail or by fax.

Once they receive this request for information, it can take weeks to provide the results. This puts job seekers with military service experience at a significant disadvantage compared to their civilian counterparts whose background checks can generally be completed in a matter of days. And if you have questions about the information they’ve returned, fuhgettaboutit!

If the military wants pointers about the things they can do to support veterans as the reenter civilians life, they should really consider modifying this process. Why not develop an automated verification system that allows employers and background screening companies to complete military verifications in real time? If developing a system is too costly, perhaps they would be comfortable outsourcing these records to a third party verification system such as The Work Number or the National Student Clearing House? I’m sure that one of the concerns with outsourcing would be the security of sensitive personal information, but there are ways to protect that information.

If electronic verification isn’t an option, at the very least, they could dedicate the necessary resources to respond to these requests in an expedient fashion; 1 to 3 days is a great target compared to 2 to 4 weeks.

This measure alone won’t turn the tide on the alarming unemployment rates, but it is definitely an obstacle that employers face when hiring veterans.

We’re often accused of being a one trick pony. It’s true, we have a one track mind; we’re all background checks all the time. But if this one small solution helps, imagine what those of us in the human resources community can do if we really put our heads together.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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