Despite high unemployment statistics, employer report that they are challenged to find the right talent for key positions, according to the 2012 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report.

The fifth annual report, released today, provides insight into employment screening, hiring and talent management challenges, as well as common practices, according to a press release from HireRight.

The report is based on a survey of 2,200 HR, talent management, recruiting, security, safety and operations professionals from large, medium and small employers, in a range of industries.

The report indicates some guarded optimism around hiring as over 70 percent of the respondents expect to hire new workers in 2012, yet many of those respondents anticipate growth of less than 5 percent.

Supporting this hiring outlook is that the top business challenge for 47 percent of respondents is finding, retaining and developing quality talent, the release says. This concern outweighed cost-cutting, which was last year’s top-ranked business challenge. Cutting costs dropped to third place this year, at 24 percent.

The emphasis on finding quality talent puts employment screening in the spotlight because of its value in improving the quality of hire and supports why screening is nearly ubiquitous in large and mid-sized companies.

In this year’s study, 67 percent of respondents said that the top benefit provided by background checks is the improvement to the quality of hire. Furthermore, 70 percent of respondents reported they had uncovered a falsehood on an applicant’s resume.

Legislation changes are also causing hiccups in the hiring process, as HR personnel have to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of social media screening, credit checks, and the impact of medical marijuana legislation on drug testing policies, the release says.

Sixty-one percent of respondents report that they use or plan to use social media for recruiting, but only 15 percent report using it for background screening. Out of that 15 percent, only 23 percent have a formal policy in place governing how those screens are conducted.