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Pre-employment screening pitfalls for IT contractors

Demand for IT contractors is likely to keep growing. With more and more businesses reducing their offline services in favour of online, or even going online-only, plus the launch of Windows 10 this year, it is a good time for IT contractors, whose help will be needed more than ever. World IT spending is set to reach $3.8trn this year, driven by widespread adoption of cloud software.

However, one of the obstacles standing in the way of IT contractors’ potential next job is a pre-employment screening process which is fast becoming less simple and flexible than before – and sometimes, much longer and more arduous.

In the past it was not uncommon for a company to bring an IT contractor into the office while the screening process was still ongoing. This is much rarer now – some organisations have passed their pre-employment screening responsibility from HR to the Risk department, while some outsource the process entirely to third-party specialists. In short, pre-employment screening is now being taken much more seriously.

Tougher screening than ever before

Naturally, pre-employment screening being taken more seriously should sound like a good thing – and most of the time, it is. It’s important from both a professional and safety perspective. It is a process which is vital for banks and financial institutions in particular to get right, as they are under an increasing amount of regulatory pressure and restraint.

However, this increased scrutiny can have consequences for IT contractors. The strict screening process can encourage some companies to choose to hire a management consultant instead, as often they do not have to undergo the same checks and can therefore start work immediately. This may be more expensive for the hiring company, but when time is tight, that may well be the choice it makes.

Problems caused by IT contractors

IT contractors have been known to exacerbate the situation by acting in a hostile manner towards the screening process.

Going into it with an attitude that the company seeking your services does not have the right to sensitive information will not go down well. Nor will going into it with the perception that your reputation should exempt you from such a requirement.

But for screening to be fair, procedures must be followed consistently – for everyone. You may be asked for bank statements or medical records, but only when relevant and only for the purpose of completing the process as required.

Sailing through screening

Pre-employment screening does not need to be a significant issue. Our next blog on the subject will guide you through the process and provide a checklist of what you will need to do.


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