By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

According to background check expert Lester Rosen, while the background check industry is still fragmented, he notes in an article about pre-employment background checks in HR Magazine that some consolidation has occurred and that he expects consolidation in the industry to continue with two background check firm models evolving: large data-driven industries and smaller boutique-style firms emphasizing education and consultation.

Rosen – founder of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace’ – was quoted in an article “Backgrounds to the Foreground” in the December 2010 issue of HR magazine, a publication from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), saying two background check models have evolved.

“Investment banking firms buying and consolidating big companies is a new trend. Larger financial interests are involved at the same time we still have medium-size or boutique firms,” Rosen, an Attorney at Law, says in the story, adding that two models for background check firms have evolved: “A large data-driven industry with assembly-line-like practices and a boutique approach with emphasis on education and consultation.”

The author of the article, Bill Roberts, a contributing editor for HR Magazine, writes that the stakes have never been higher when it comes to choosing a background check firm to protect a business and its reputation due to legal challenges and security concerns. While juries still punish employers for inadequate background checks – one jury mentioned in the article awarded over $20 million in a negligent hiring case – the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has increased enforcement against overuse of background checks that the agency claims violate federal law.

To help employers choose a background check partner, the article notes that the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) launched an accreditation program in March 2010 to apply best practices for consumer protection, legal compliance, and client education, and standards for court researchers, data, and verification, to its members. The NAPBS accredited companies were announced before year-end of 2010.

The article also reveals that while some vendors have ISO certification from the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO only designates that formal business processes are applied and that the ISO is not specific to background checks and does not guarantee quality of products or services like the NAPBS accreditation.

The HR Magazine article “Backgrounds to the Foreground” is currently available only to SHRM members at:

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or [email protected].