Checkr sells AI-powered background check software to companies. Now, it’s giving job candidates a glimpse into what potential employers might see.
4 min read
Job applicants can update their LinkedIn pages, pad their resumes and write a cover letter that’ll knock a hiring manager’s socks off. But despite these efforts, one of the most important and personal aspects of the hiring process gets kept out of candidates’ sight: background checks.
Checkr, a company that uses AI to help companies such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates and Grubhub streamline background checks, is now turning the tables. Instead of just selling its technology to its 10,000-plus clients, it’s now making it publicly accessible so job seekers can background check themselves first — for free.
The company’s new service, launching today, is called Better Future. It’s an extension of Checkr’s larger mission to help people with criminal backgrounds get jobs. One in three adult Americans has a criminal record, meaning that they either have been arrested on a felony charge (even if they weren’t convicted) or on a misdemeanor charge that a state agency has requested the FBI keep on file, Politifact reported last year.
Checkr’s view is that, in many cases, minor offenses unrelated to the work in question shouldn’t limit people’s prosperity (e.g. someone with a traffic violation applying to work in a call center). In other words, people deserve second chances. As co-founder and CEO Daniel Yanisse told Entrepreneur in an interview earlier this year, unemployed individuals with criminal records cost the U.S. economy roughy $87 billion a year and are more likely to commit another crime. On the other hand, people with criminal records stay in jobs longer.
“Similar to the advent of the free credit report, a free background check can give jobseekers greater control over their financial future and help them unlock their personal potential in new ways,” Yanisse said in a statement accompanying the Better Future announcement.
Checkr is one of many companies building technology to help consumers review their data. In the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, the social media platform rolled out a step-by-step guide to help users download and delete their user data. In June, blockchain-based startup Hu-manity.co, which is working to give people access to and control of their medical records, launched a campaign to add a 31st human right to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to legal ownership of their inherent human data as property.”
It may or may not shock you to learn that recordkeeping isn’t perfect. Checkr has decided to give job seekers a window into their records is primarily to help them detect any inaccuracies and have them changed. In some markets, Checkr will be able to connect people with a free service, Clear My Record, to see if they qualify for a reduction or dismissal. That process requires submitting an application to attorneys, as well as an approximately four-week waiting period to hear about results or next steps.
But first, those job seekers can contact the Better Future support team, which will re-check the court records for free and make sure it’s not an error on Checkr’s part. Checkr’s AI typically does the heavy lifting, automatically pulling criminal record data from digital courthouse databases. Only in cases when someone requests records that are only available in paper format does Checkr dispatch a human contractor to collect the information. The AI then classifies the information by category of the crime.
In 2017, Checkr said its software for companies helped 8,000 candidates get accepted instead of declined. With Better Future, Checkr will not only help people view their records, but pair them with potentially relevant job opportunities.
To this end, the company so far has partnered with on-demand delivery service DoorDash, staffing company Adia, produce brand Imperfect Produce, floral delivery service Farmgirl Flowers and grocer Good Eggs. In the future, Checkr intends to add “skills-based assessments and matching” to Better Future.