Our Behind the Screens blog series has been exploring the regional nuances and people behind our background screening solutions. We know that employers all over the world are seeing huge benefits to adding background screening to their talent acquisition strategies, including a better quality of hire, and improving the candidate experience. However, the inclination for screening programs varies widely from region to region. In our last post, we heard from Ryan Christensen, the Director of Account Management for Latin America. Ryan leads the team in the region and offered his unique perspectives on background screening across the region.
Now, we are going to talk to two of our Account Managers in Latin America, Guillermo Saldierna and Alfredo Fuentes. The Account Managers are responsible for providing individual customer support for their clients. This consists of everything from handling the client’s files, details, and progress reports, to acting as a point of escalation for client queries or issues. Account Managers also maintain long-standing relationships with clients and vendors. Guillermo and Alfredo share their perspectives on background screening in the region and how it has changed over the years, how COVID has affected the industry, and how HireRight sets them apart.
How long have you worked at HireRight and what is your role?
Guillermo: I started working for HireRight in January of 2018. In addition to my Account Manager role, I am also the first contact Global ID Check product team, as well as the regional contact for our Enterprise Data Management team.
Alfredo: I have been working for HireRight for the last three and a half years as an account manager. I am also a point of contact for the Enterprise Data Management Team. I specialize in client relationships and helping to bring in new clients as well.
Tell us a little about the different clients that you support in your role.
Guillermo: Most of my clients are global corporations with a Latin American presence. They consist of a wide range of industries, including IT, Telecom, Finance, Manufacturing, and Energy. Each industry has programs with specific needs that make them unique. Many of my clients are looking to screen new hires – rescreening is common with only a few clients. Common screenings for my clients include Criminal Records (almost every client), Education, and Employment Verification. Many of my clients have very specific verification details, in accordance with their corporate guidelines, and we create custom verifications.
Alfredo: I also have many clients across different industries, mainly in Manufacturing, Health Care, and Technology. Most of my clients are interested in screening candidates for Criminal Records, Education, and Employment Verification.
Tell us about your career in background screening.
Guillermo: Previous to HireRight I lead a team for over five years for Estudios Socioeconómicos in Mexico. This is a local pre-employment screening service, similar to the services HireRight provides. Combined with my current role, I have 8.5 years of experience in background screening services.
Alfredo: I have more than 20 years of experience in client support, exclusively in Latin America. HireRight is my first role in background screening, and I have applied my experience working directly with people to this role.
What do you love most about your job?
Guillermo: I love the client relationship and understanding their needs. I do love providing solutions and solving challenges. It makes me happy to know that HireRight’s services are part of the hiring process for our clients, improving reducing their time to hire, or costs. Additionally, I like that HireRight is innovative, always offering new services or products, or improving processes for our clients.
Alfredo: I love to help my clients with their hiring needs. When a customer says “Thanks for..” that means a lot to me! I know they are happy to work with HireRight and to have my support.
What is background screening like in Latin America, and how is it different from the rest of the world?
Guillermo: There are several differentiators, mainly that Latin America is composed of several countries, each one with specific requirements. HireRight offers services in more than 50 countries and territories in this geography, which I find very exciting! The region is very large geographically and includes two main languages: Spanish and Portuguese. In addition, French is spoken in the Caribbean, and English is spoken nearly everywhere. It’s crucial for our research team to understand the local culture, as well as speak Spanish or Portuguese.
Alfredo: It’s important to note that Background Checks are a relatively new practice in Latin America. It has been gaining popularity with the larger, global companies, but midsize and small businesses are becoming interested. They want new processes that can help them hire the right people. This means that we sometimes have to educate smaller businesses on the new services available in Latin America.
What are some unique challenges your clients experience in the region?
Guillermo: One challenge is that there are many different countries, so there are many different types of public record requirements, and the turnaround times vary. Countries have very specific requirements, for example, some do not accept e Signatures, which can result in longer turnaround times.
Another important challenge are data privacy laws, which are not that modern and efficient, except for a few countries (Brazil, Argentina). This lack of consistent “rules” across the region can be confusing to clients and candidates. Furthermore, there are not always regulations for the vendors supplying the reports. This means that not all local background check vendors are transparent. Most of them do not indicate where the information comes from, and this is not always clear or fair for the candidate.
Alfredo: For many of my clients, it is the cost and the turnaround time that is challenging for their business. There are many new, inexpensive background screeners that are now on the market. They can turn around a verification in a short time. However, the report quality is often poor. I see new clients that have been unhappy with these services and come to HireRight for quality verifications.
Has COVID changed the approach to background screening in Latin America?
Guillermo: Yes, we have noticed changes both from our clients and our vendors. From the client-side, we saw verification rates decrease across the region as the pandemic progressed. In many instances, we saw decreases of 40% or more in some countries.
Additionally, our teams had issues with verifications during COVID. For example, in Latin America, many local companies were affected by COVID, and they needed to close. This made employment verification very difficult for our clients. Many of our sources for verification (courts, public records) were also closed or were working remotely, so it was difficult to communicate with them during these times. We see similar situations with Education verifications. Longer response times from educational institutions are very common throughout the region.
Alfredo: Across Latin America, we saw similar trends in the workforce as the rest of the world. Some industries closed, then reorganized and opened again and quickly needed new hires. Some industries experienced hiring surges such as IT and Health Services. On the other hand, industries like Finance and Energy were negatively affected the entire time, and are still struggling.
How has the background screening industry in Latin America changed over the years?
Guillermo: Over time, we have seen that the market is generally much more accepting of background screening. We see large, global corporations taking the lead in the market, building out robust background screening programs. Then, we notice mid-size and smaller companies are following their lead. Now, companies of all sizes in the region use background screening programs. Cost is also a huge factor for companies considering any new programs, especially post COVID, as many are still struggling.
Additionally, background checks are now often performed under global legal recognized frameworks (such as the LGPD in Brazil). Having a legal framework is comforting to both the client and the candidate.
Alfredo: Applicants are much more relaxed about an employer requesting a background screening today. Years ago, the only process available was the Estudio Socioeconómico (Socio Economic Study) which was quite invasive! This was an interview conducted in the candidate’s house by the employer. They needed to provide the documentation of employment and education themselves. Oftentimes, the interviewer would take pictures of your house to verify your address! This process was very uncomfortable for the candidate. Today, background screening in Latin America is much more like the rest of the world, and verifications are done through vendors, remotely.
Can you share with us a little about what makes HireRight different from other background screening vendors in Latin America?
Guillermo: The services that HireRight provides are 100% legal and follow the specific requirements in each country. Candidates are aware of the screening by signing a consent form since the very beginning of the process. Public Records sources are trusted, allowing HireRight to fulfill the orders in a consistent manner. Verifications are performed by government nationals, using a standard global protocol that leverages our proprietary database. Unfortunately, there are vendors in Latin America that do not follow these legalities and processes, which can put both employers and candidates at risk.
Alfredo: HireRight provides global coverage, in many different languages, including a multi-lingual applicant center. We have local account managers (like myself) in the region that are assigned to clients, in order to give them the best support. We also have a global customer support system, to help our clients around the clock.
Thank you for taking the time to take a peek behind the screens of HireRight in Latin America. There are more exciting adventures ahead! HireRight will be launching our new legal entity, HireRight Mexico, S. de R.L. later this year. This means that our clients will be able to contract locally with HireRight in Mexico.
Stay tuned for more posts where we will pull back the curtain, and let you see into the ‘backstage” of background screening across the globe. In the meantime, check out our previous Latin America blog, and our APAC Behind the Screens series.