SHRM 2006 Annual Conference

SHRM 2006 Annual Conference

Attendance was up about 10% to almost 14,000. About the same number of pre-employment screening companies exhibited as last year, about 45. The exhibiters I spoke with were very excited about the quantity and quality of the leads. Of course, these are only “leads.” The real work in landing these accounts comes when you get back to the office. I spoke to one company that felt they blew it last year. They got a lot of leads but didn’t do the follow up until way too late, but they were back to do it better this time. Before you add exhibiting at conferences to your marketing plan, use my consulting service to avoid such costly mistakes.

Hottest Topic

What I perceived was different at this show was all the talk about INTEGRATION. Integrating the background check orders and the results with an end user Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or Human Resource Information System (HRIS or HRMS). Several background companies already have an ATS built into their system so their clients can seamlessly enter all the applicants into the ATS and when they want a background check done on a selected applicant, with a click of a button, the data flows into the background check ordering system.

What I saw was several companies either building or partnering with ATS software companies to accomplish this. In addition, several companies were now taking the next step, which is to bring in (by building or partnering with existing suppliers) the pieces in front of the ATS, including:

  • On-line application (including the legal compliance issues with this)
  • Resume submission and tools for managing
  • Tools for searching resume banks
  • On-line answering of questions to filter out non-qualified candidates
  • Skills testing
  • Assessment testing

All these pieces add value to, and lock a customer into, the background checking company. Of course, it’s also cool when these “after the background check” pieces are part of the process:

  • Adverse Action notice automation.
  • Data flow of hired employees into the payroll system.
  • Reports of when someone with an adverse background check is not on payroll.

As in, did someone make a hiring mistake?

  • Verification of SSN with SSA.
  • TJTC.
  • Form I-9 compliance service.
  • Ongoing periodic background checks.
  • Employment verification module.

One person asked “with all this technology screening out people, what will happen to the face to face situation where you decide to “screen in” someone because, in spite of the relative lack of qualifications,you just like them? Interesting question. Some place in the above process, there will still be an interview,but how many will be eliminated, before the interview, that might otherwise be hired? It will be interesting to watch how this develops. Regardless, these powerful tools for the hiring process can help you differentiate your company from ordinary background checking companies.

Assessment Tests

These “personality” “honesty” “behavioral” type tests seem to be making a rebound. More and more people are selling such tests, both as stand-alone companies and from employment screeners. Will the increased use of these as a preliminary screening tool hurt the background checking volume? Probably not much.

The employer still has to do the actual background check on each candidate that got through the assessment. I was told by a very reliable source that a company that sold both the integrity test and the background checks did a comparison several years ago and found that while the integrity test did eliminate a lot of people who had some propensity to be dishonest, the background checks on those that got past the honest test still found the same percent of criminal records.

ID Theft Protection

Another product that can be sold to HR. Computerized agents doing criminal searches. This is the “now” thing. Sterling Testing recently announced their program to do fast turnaround time automated retrieval of criminal records direct from the court. Verified Person does the same. These are faster, more accurate and have a very low incremental cost (albeit, the development cost can be very high).

Staying in Touch

I find it interesting that the larger company CEOs do not attend the conference or if they do, it is only for a couple of hours. In my opinion, they are missing a couple of important opportunities.

  • The opportunity to actually talk face to face with customers and prospects.
  • The opportunity to talk to their competitors to learn and to exchange ideas.
  • To do competitive intelligence.
  • To just be there to show your sales people how important this show is and to inspect how well your sales reps are doing.

I Want a New Supplier

When talking with end users, I was surprised how many of them were actually looking for a new background checking company. Reason for change? Poor service and poor customer service when calling in with questions. Also, better integration capabilities (of course, many HR people have no idea what this means).

One company told me their overall turnaround time for county criminal searches was under 12 hours. While I am not exactly sure how they measure, this still looks like a half-day TAT, on average. Is your service that good? If not, talk to us about our SILC service.

Fun Vs. Serious

Which approach should you take when doing a trade show? Some companies were giving away fun stuff and having fun doing so. They took a lot of names. Other companies were more “buttoned-up” in their approach. They took names, but only if they were qualified leads (decision makers).

It was amazing to see several booths with lines of people wrapped once or twice around. I can’t tell what they were giving away, and I am sure it was worth the wait to the attendee, but was it worth the dollars spent to the exhibitor? Monster even had at least two stretch Hummer limos and at least one big bus painted in Monster logo-colors to transport people. Which approach is correct?  Well, I guess whatever really works for your company.

My personal view is to be very friendly, but professional. Talk to every person that walks by and find who the decision maker is for background checks at their company and get decision maker’s contact information. No give-aways (bah-humbug!), no crazy promotions, just plain, good, old- fashioned, work-the-crowd, trade show practice. In my opinion, the quality of leads is better than the quantity.

Remember,the real work begins when you get back to the office. I would rather have the names of 100 real decision makers to call the first day back in the office vs. 400 names of mostly non-decision makers. One man’s opinion.


NAPBS had a booth and several people came up to ask about NAPBS and comment that they wanted to only use a company that was part of NAPBS. They wanted to know how to find a background checking company that was a member of NAPBS. They were told to go to the NAPBS website and/or were given a list of NAPBS companies exhibiting at the conference with their booth numbers. Seemed like a valuable use of NAPBS funds and one more reason to belong to the association.


  • I continued to get asked about background-checking companies that might be for sale. Ours is still a seller’s market (call us to discuss).
  • There continues to be a great demand for experienced sales and sales management. Foursales/marketing people just left ChoicePoint for Verified Person.
  • Tim Crawford, after many, many years with DAC/TISI/USIS has moved on to HR Plus, following Jim Hall (formerly of USIS) who is their CEO.
  • Don’t forget about posting your job opening on our website at
  • Don’t forget you can also post your resume anonymously on Anonymous means you can choose to not use your name and to show you skills and experience but without revealing where you worked. If the hiring company wants to contact you, they can do it through the web site and you can choose to respond.

Every company I spoke with said times are still good for our industry, with sales up 25-35%. They feel the market will continue to expand and they can continue to take business away from those providers not giving good customer service. During these “good times” look to invest your management efforts in five areas: sales and marketing; better customer service; driving your costs down; improving your turnaround time and integration.