The most famous saying attributed to Henry Ford following his revolutionary impact on the automobile, manufacturing, and overall industrial overdrive of the early twentieth century was, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”
It’s a saying that comes to mind when Vice President of Customer Success Bo Engelhardt and Vice President of Sales Kyle Osterman of background screening company First Advantage Corporation talk about the progressive approach the company has taken to the long-practiced process of screening job candidates. “Background screens have been around for a long time,” Osterman says frankly. “But the way we approach screening is evolving, and we are hyper-investing in new products and platforms.”
One gets the feeling that First Advantage isn’t in the horse and carriage trade at all—they’re already on the highway.
“First Advantage has been investing in automation of background screening for ten years already,” Engelhardt says. It’s an important consideration given that at the time of speaking, the world was three months into a worldwide pandemic, which would likely give way to a worldwide recession, if not outright depression.
“Other background companies have really struggled with automation, and I think the pandemic has drawn attention to the need for new technologies in order to ensure better screenings,” Engelhardt asserts.
“I think that’s such an important part of this,” Osterman follows up. “Every organization has faced a challenge, but I don’t think many companies can compete with the scale of First Advantage. We’re completing 70 million background screens annually, and it’s because we’ve leveraged technology to assist us in doing that.” First Advantage’s early adoption and continued refining of robotic process automation has allowed it to aid its clients at a time when other businesses simply cannot move that fast for a variety of reasons.
“Courts have been closed or have been very slow to respond,” Osterman says. “But with our automated processes, we’re able to get the data back much quicker so that our clients can make informed hiring decisions very quickly.”
Engelhardt provides another concrete example. “With so many schools and employers closed or working remotely, you can’t easily go through those traditional steps to verify employment. Three years ago, we launched a product called Verified, which is an internal database of educational and employment information that has previously been verified. It allows us to outperform our competitors because we can complete a verification leveraging our own, previously authenticated resources.”
“With our automated processes, we’re able to get the data back much quicker so that our clients can make informed hiring decisions very quickly.” — Kyle Osterman
The New Economy
Both VPs convey that there seems to be a definite line in the sand concerning the future of economic growth for the foreseeable future. They both remain in agreement that First Advantage, for myriad reasons, is uniquely positioned to thrive when the dust clears.
“When you consider the white water we’re in—and may be in for some time—I think it’s going to be the strongest and most adaptable that will be able to survive in our industry,” Osterman says. “The competitive landscape is going to look very different, and I think it’s those organizations that have scale, are adaptable to the new market, and can provide solutions that will thrive in the new economy.”
“I agree with that: companies that were able to skirt by without investing in technology, without innovating, they’re just not going to make it,” Engelhardt says. “Kyle used the term ‘new economy,’ and I firmly believe we’re going to come out of this in a new world and with a new focus on remote hiring.”
First Advantage already has it covered. The company has launched a slew of products specifically designed for what they see as the new world of remote hiring. This even includes a virtual drug test performed by a mouth swab collection and reading that can be conducted over video chat with candidates or employees. “When you’re hiring people and going through the entire onboarding process virtually, you’re no longer physically sitting in front of the person that you’re hiring,” Engelhardt says. “It’s exciting for us to think about the new economy, how the workforce is going to change, and how we can continue leading the effort to deliver screening results for companies around the globe.”
Not Just Technology
In spite of the cutting-edge advantages, there may be another key to First Advantage’s success. Engelhardt’s account management team has an average tenure of eight years. He’s been there for twelve himself. “My team is focused exclusively on healthcare, which is not common among background screening companies,” Engelhardt says. “That separates First Advantage from its competitors.”
While Osterman seems the relative rookie at three years, he came for a reason. “First Advantage is the market leader,” the sales VP says. “When I look at the actual platform we’re investing in, it’s so exciting. Our ability, from an agile perspective, to create new products and go to market is unparalleled.”
Osterman attributes the strength of First Advantage’s DNA to its leadership, CEO Scott Staples as well as Chief Revenue Officer Joe Jaeger. “We’re here to do what our mission statement says: to deliver innovative solutions and insights that help our clients manage risk and hire the best talent,” Osterman says. “It’s part of what we do, and it’s built into the fabric of our business.”