The Heavy Burden of Trust


The Heavy Burden of Trust

Last week, I spent time with several employer clients and engaged in deep discussion about the value of certain background screening searches. A client asked me what I thought about running social media searches, which then morphed into a discussion about Adverse Media searches. As you can imagine, I’m quite opinionated about these two search types, and we had a lively debate.

The theme of this post, however, is not the proper use of Adverse or Social Media screening. It is trust and responsibility. During my conversations, it became very clear to me how much our clients depend on us for guidance and education. And how much they trust our opinions. Guiding clients is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. The impact is even greater when dealing with background screening services that are not familiar to the client.

As providers and users of global screening, we must be diligent in learning about our products. Since global screening can easily involve thousands of products (I think of each search in each country as a separate product in this context), I’m not suggesting we need to be experts in 3,000 different searches. But we do need to be educated about our core services and the specific searches in the countries we see most often. Pick the top 10 countries and learn them. For the other countries and searches, have resources in place to understand those products when asked questions. At least know what an Adverse Media search is, or the basics of how criminal record searches are obtained in various countries.

Here is an example. In the United Kingdom, the process for obtaining criminal record searches for basic screening changed dramatically January 2018. There are different sources with different ordering procedures and results involved. A lot of information must be collected from the candidate and a lot must be explained to the candidate. The United Kingdom criminal record search is a fairly common search in global screening, especially in industries such as finance. Yet I am so often confronted by clients who know nothing about the sources or the basics of the process, even when they have been conducting many of these searches all year long.

Another example is from the United States. Criminal record searches are quite common in the U.S. and the employment community often has a basic level of understanding of the different types of criminal record searches available. Yet when I speak to screeners or employers located outside of the U.S., they have no idea what they are buying or what some of the potential options are—even when these screeners and employers frequently order U.S. criminal records. As people in my office will tell you, I am baffled by the reliance on Federal Criminal Record searches from outside the U.S.

Here is my call to action:

  • If you are in the screening profession, spend time learning about global screening. Do not rely solely on your international vendor to answer all of your questions. Yes, have a vendor network you can trust. Rely on them for help. But you must learn the common information yourself. When your client asks for help with searches, don’t just be a conduit and pass the information from your vendor to the client. Use it as an opportunity to learn.
  • If you are an employer, take time to learn about screening in the countries you most often touch. Your “clients” are your job candidates. This screening process may be new to them as well and just as confusing as it is to you. Learning about the searches, especially the complex ones (UK and Canada criminal searches are a good start), will help you understand the candidate experience.

We owe it to our clients to be well versed in our products. Just because the type of screening comes from outside our home country does not absolve us from needing to understand it.

And for the readers looking for more information on felines, my advice is the same. If your cat is in the care of a vet for an illness or injury, learn about that illness and how to care for the cat. Don’t leave it all to the veterinary staff. Come up with ideas on how to help your vet help your cat.


Kerstin Bagus – Director, Global Initiatives

Kerstin Bagus supports ClearStar’s Global Screening Program as its Director of Global Initiatives. She has more than 30 years of background screening industry experience, working for a variety of firms, large and small. Kerstin is one of the few individuals in the industry who is privacy-certified through the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) for Canada, the EU, and the U.S.

Kerstin is a passionate participant in the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA, formerly NAPBS) and is a current member of the Board, in addition to participating on several committees. She also participates on IFDAT’s Legal Committee, with a primary focus on global data privacy.

At ClearStar, we are committed to your success. An important part of your employment screening program involves compliance with various laws and regulations, which is why we are providing information regarding screening requirements in certain countries, region, etc. While we are happy to provide you with this information, it is your responsibility to comply with applicable laws and to understand how such information pertains to your employment screening program. The foregoing information is not offered as legal advice but is instead offered for informational purposes. ClearStar is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice and this communication does not form an attorney client relationship. The foregoing information is therefore not intended as a substitute for the legal advice of a lawyer knowledgeable of the user’s individual circumstances or to provide legal advice. ClearStar makes no assurances regarding the accuracy, completeness, or utility of the information contained in this publication. Legislative, regulatory and case law developments regularly impact on general research and this area is evolving rapidly. ClearStar expressly disclaim any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of the information provided herein.


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