Millennials Expanding in Workforce Will Make Background Checks More Applicant Friendly in 2018by
by Thomas Ahearn
“Millennials” – people aged 18 to 34 in 2015 – numbered 75.4 million and surpassed the 74.9 million “Baby Boomers” aged 51 to 69 in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. The fact that technically savvy Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. workforce and will make background checks more applicant friendly is trend number 1 of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2018 selected by global background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR).
The Pew Research Center has established that Millennials were born between 1981 and 1997. The Pew Research Center also revealed Millennials will continue to grow as young immigrants enter the U.S. and are projected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million when the oldest Millennial will be at least 56 years of age. By 2050 there will be a projected 79.2 million Millennials. Meanwhile, the size of Baby Boomers will shrink as the number of deaths among them exceeds the number of older immigrants arriving in the U.S.
“Employers need to be sensitive to special issues in hiring and working with Millennials now that they have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest group in the workforce,” says ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a comprehensive guide to employment screening background checks. “Studies and practical experience show Millennials are influenced by different factors than Baby Boomers and are motivated and communicate in different ways.”
In the most general sense, Millennials – also known as “Generation Y” – are defined as “people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.” Millennials have been described in both positive (upbeat, receptive to new ideas, and supportive of the rights of others) and negative (lazy, narcissistic, and prone to jump from job to job) ways. Overall, Millennials are the most technically savvy generation to enter the workplace after having grown up with computers and technology in some form since birth.
“Applicant Friendly” is a term used to describe a hiring and background check process leaves a good first impression for job candidates about their potential employers. Built in automation with a “humanizing” approach to hiring can help employers attract more Millennials to job openings. Transparency in the background screening process is a must, and Millennials also need to know that the privacy, security, and confidentiality of their personal information will be protected by the background check provider.
“How subjects of background screens such as applicants, employees, volunteers, and contractors are treated by the screening process is changing,” explains ESR Vice President of Operations Kirk Bogue, who joined the company in September of 2017. “Employers and screening companies are becoming increasingly aware that how the screening process is handled can adversely affect the relationship between the subject and the company that commissioned the background search.”
Bogue adds that the success of screening companies will increasingly be dependent on the use of technology across all areas of their business. Buyers of background screening will also have to get more sophisticated about the provider they use for screening or risk being exposed to legal consequences. “Too many companies can’t react as quickly as needed in their reaction to more frequently paced regulatory change, leaving their clients legally exposed until solutions catch up,” explains Bogue.
ESR has been a leader and industry innovator in the area of state-of-the-art technology with its use of an online system for applicants to electronically consent to background checks, as well as advanced integration with other HR systems such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). To make the screening experience as easy as possible for Millennials, ESR partnered with many leading ATS providers and offers a whitepaper on “How to Choose an ATS to Work with Your Background Screening Firm” for employers.
ESR realizes that data breach protection and information security are critical issues for Millennials in the modern Internet Age. As a result, ESR undergoes an annual SOC 2 audit report to ensure that the firm meets the high standards of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to protect the privacy, security, and confidentiality of consumer information used for background checks. More information about the ESR SOC 2 report is available at www.esrcheck.com/SOC-2/.
Employers will have to adjust workplaces and hiring processes to suit the more mobile technology and social media oriented behavior of the Millennial generation. The most critical issue employers find with Millennials is that they are the most “wired” generation so far in history. That means an applicant friendly experience is crucial and any software used to accomplish screening must be intuitive, easy to use, and very clear or an employer may find it has an issue attracting millennial candidates.
Much has been written about the generational divide and how Millennials approach employment differently. In terms of background screening, younger millennials may have less information to obtain and a more limited work history and credit history. Given that some millennials strictly use rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft, driving records may not yield much information either. Millennials also make up a large chunk on the emerging “gig economy” by having non-traditional jobs.
“Applicant experience” is a critical consideration for the background check process when it comes to attracting Millennials and should be as comfortable as possible while assuring Millennials that the screening will be accurate, legally compliant, and privacy rights will be protected. The war for talent – and Millennials – requires a background check process that is easy and intuitive. Having Millennials fill out their own data using an Applicant Generated Report (AGR) system gives them more control.
Employers need to recognize the importance of the applicant experience during the background check process in relation to their employer brand with Millennials. Creating ideal applicant experiences first requires transparency with background check policies and practices. Since a background check can be an uncomfortable process for Millennials, the background check release form should be easy to read and explain the process while providing contact information if the applicant has any questions.
In addition, Millennials need to be made aware that if they want to dispute information on a report, the background check firm will provide them top notch customer service and assistance. Millennials must understand their rights during the background check process under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in a report. Information about these rights is in “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
Millennials also may consider the use of for “social media background checks” to be an invasion of privacy. However, these types of checks will continue to grow as Millennials impact the workforce. According to the 2017 CareerBuilder Survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, up significantly from 60 percent in 2016. The survey also found that 3 in 10 employers have someone solely dedicated to checking the online presence of job applicants.
The CareerBuilder survey found employers are searching for signs to hire when viewing candidates on social media sites that include information that supports their qualifications for the job (61 percent), if the candidate has a professional online persona at all (50 percent), and what other people are posting about the candidates (37 percent). Also, 69 percent of employers use online search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to research candidates in 2017, compared to 59 percent last year.
However, the survey also revealed more than half of employers – 54 percent – find content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate that included candidates posting inappropriate photographs, videos, or information (39 percent) candidates posting information about them drinking or using drugs (38 percent), candidates having discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion (32 percent), and candidates bad-mouthing their previous company or fellow employee (30 percent).
Social media background checks can be used for uncovering a treasure trove of information about Millennials. Employers can harvest information from a variety of social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as forums, sharing services, and discussion boards. What is overlooked in the rush to use social media background checks is a question that needs to be asked: What are the potential legal risks for employers using the Internet for employment screening?
These potential legal risks for employers using social media background checks on Millennials may include learning too much information (TMI) about applicants that leads to discrimination allegations, learning too little information (TLI) online about potentially dangerous workers, “computer twins” where two people have nearly identical online identities, deciding what is “fair game” in the Internet, privacy issues in the online world, and issues with credibility, accuracy, and authenticity.
To minimize potential legal risks of using social media background checks on Millennials, employers should first consult their labor attorney to develop a written policy and fair and non-discriminatory procedures designed to locate information online that is a valid predictor of job performance. Employers should focus on objective criteria and metrics, and should have written job descriptions that contain the essential functions for the job as well as knowledge, skills, and ability (KSA) required for the job.
The most conservative approach is to not conduct a social media search on Millennials until after there has been a conditional job offer to demonstrate that all applicants were considered utilizing legal criteria that were neutral when it comes to prohibited criteria. Employers need to be concerned if information found online is potentially discriminatory to job candidates who are members of protected classes based on prohibited criteria such as sex (including pregnancy), race, color, national origin, and religion.
“Caution should be exercised when using the Internet for background checks on Millennials,” says Rosen. “There has yet to be a clear cut law or court cases that set forth how to proceed in this area. In the meantime, employers may want to approach social media background checks with great care before assuming that everything is fair game in the pursuit of job candidates. The bottom line when using the Internet for employment screening background checks is to proceed with caution.”
ESR offers a complimentary whitepaper entitled “Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks” written by Rosen that is an introduction for employers on how to use Internet search engines and social networking sites for background checks, the possible legal risks faced when conducting such screening, and potential solutions to avoid legal issues. The complimentary whitepaper is available at www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/Social-Media-Background-Checks/.
Since companies that manually perform social media background checks may not be aware of the near constant evolution in employment law and open themselves up to class action exposure, ESR has also produced a webinar entitled “Top 5 Best Practices for Social Media Background Checks” hosted by Ben Mones, CEO and Founder of leading social media screening provider Fama, to help employers and HR Professionals stay compliant and ahead of the curve when screening job applicants online.