Smart adjustments offer big advantages as the talent war intensifies

By Reina Cheng

There’s nothing “great” about the Great Resignation. At least, not from the employer perspective.

It began in 2021 when millions of workers started voluntarily resigning from their jobs, creating an unprecedented talent shortage that stunted business operations around the world. Now in 2022, employers throughout Asia Pacific continue to struggle with the issue.

Roughly 40 percent of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in APAC report that more employees are quitting today than in 2021, and more than 50 percent say that hiring and replacing employees is more difficult today than in 2021.1

The talent shortage? It’s turning into a talent war. And anything employers can do to streamline hiring and onboarding will give them a competitive edge. Here’s why background screening is smart place to start.

93% conduct background checks, for good reasons
Over the years, background checks have evolved from an optional hiring step to an expected best practice around the world. According to a 2021 Professional Background Screening Association survey, 95 percent of responding U.S. organizations perform some type of employment background checks, as do 79 percent of organizations outside the U.S. Taken together, the number is impressive: 93 percent of combined U.S. and non-U.S. organizations conduct employment background checks.2

Background checks are important to APAC employers for many reasons. They can help ensure employees are qualified and safe, which protects the business and its customers. Regulatory agencies often require background checks to uphold industry standards. And, apart from these external drivers, background checks benefit businesses in other ways by helping them:

  • Hire skilled workers who can produce faster and more consistent results
  • Place new employees in jobs that position them, and the business, for success
  • Reduce attrition and turnover by ensuring candidates are a “good fit”
  • Protect against internal fraud risk, physical threats and reputational damage
  • Promote business integrity with a well-vetted workforce

In the fight for talent, background checks provide businesses with clear hiring advantages, but it’s important optimize a background screening strategy to fit today’s remarkable hiring conditions.

Hire smarter, onboard faster with these strategies
Traditionally, background checks are performed during the hiring process. After a candidate submits their application and required authorizations, the background check begins in tandem with other hiring activities such as interviews.

Today, however, leading organizations are moving toward more streamlined, post-hire strategies to further accelerate onboarding and provide easier candidate experiences, while still promoting a risk-adverse workplace. Here are a few strategies we’re seeing among our customers.*

  • Strategy 1: Postpone all background checks until after the candidate is hired and onboarded. In this strategy, all background checks are performed during the employee’s probationary period, usually within the first six months after their initial hire date. Candidates are informed that their continued employment is contingent on the results of their background check, and an appropriate clause is added to their employment agreement.
  • Strategy 2: Perform database background checks only and postpone all others until after the candidate is hired and onboarded. Database checks usually provide instant results, which makes this a smart strategy for employers wanting to perform a baseline pre-hire screen. After the candidate is hired, all other components such as criminal checks, verifications and others can be performed during the probationary period with future employment contingent upon the results, similar to strategy one.
  • Strategy 3: Perform required searches only and postpone all others until after the candidate is hired and onboarded. Certain industries such as healthcare and financial services have specific background check requirements. Similarly, it’s strongly recommended—if not required—that schools perform criminal checks and sex offender searches on all employees. In these cases, perform only the required or highly recommended searches to help reduce the risk of non-compliance or physical harm. As with the first two strategies, perform all remaining background checks during the employee’s probationary period with future employment contingent upon the results.

There are other variations on this approach, but you get the idea. Background screening is an essential hiring tool; however, it doesn’t have to be a one-and-done task. Instead, when it’s mindfully staged at appropriate steps throughout the pre- and post-hire process, it helps businesses hire smarter and onboard faster. This keeps candidates engaged and helps employers put them to work faster, while creating a more secure workplace that better supports the company’s brand and business integrity. It’s an easy adjustment that can offer big advantages in coming months and years as the battle for skilled talent across the APAC regions intensifies.

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*NOTE: Always consult with legal counsel on specific strategies pertaining to your business, industry, jurisdiction and employment agreement.
1 The impact of the Great Resignation on digital transformation in APJ’s SMEs (
2 pub.cfm (

Reina Cheng is the Senior Vice President, HK/ASEAN, Japan & Korea for First Advantage


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