By the end of 2015, Millennials are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace for the first time. They’re hot commodities, but hiring them creates background screening challenges.
In particular, when screening Millennials, employers need to take into account not only what’s effective, but also what’s legal. Below are five of the chief challenges.
1. Social Media Searches
We know Millennials love their social networks. But some say Millennials share too freely. The resulting wealth of online information can be tempting for hiring managers.
Using social media to screen candidates can be risky, however. The information you find might not be legal to use in a hiring context. Information about religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status or health condition may all be prohibited under anti-discrimination laws. Plus, Millennials appear to have more cultural diversity than Gen X or Baby Boomers—42 percent identify with a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white.
The legal risks associated with social media searches are not unique to Millennials, but because of their diverse makeup and propensity to share, employers are more likely to stumble upon protected class information. Employers shold ensure social media screening is done by those who are familiar with the legal risks.
2. Digital Natives And Age Discrimination
Millennials are not direct targets for age discrimination. But the hiring criteria you use to attract Millennials might be at the expense of people protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and similar state laws.
For example, in 2013, Facebook settled a lawsuit with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Department for posting an employment ad that stated “Class of 2007 or 2008 preferred.”
Another example is the term “digital native”—people born and raised in the digital age. It’s code for Millennials, and it’s popping up in job ads. Legal experts agree that pre-screening for digital natives is thinly veiled age discrimination. Instead of screening for digital natives, identify the job requirements. If you want someone skilled in tech and comfortable in the digital environment, use those words. Chances are, lots of Millennials will be qualified and respond.
3. Driving Records
According to AARP, Millennials drive around 25 percent less than their counterparts did just eight years ago. If a licensed driver with a clean driving record is your target, you might be eliminating prospective Millennial applicants. That might not be a big deal, but like all parts of a background check, you want to make sure the information you are seeking is relevant to the job.
Before you run a motor vehicle report (MVR) on an applicant, ask yourself why. Is a clean driving record a bona fide job requirement? Requiring a driver’s license or running a motor vehicle check would not rise to the level of discrimination, per se, but could limit your job pool in the 20-30-year-old market.
Millennials tend to rely less on traditional bank loans and credit cards, are more likely to use cash, and spend less than Gen X or Baby Boomers. They also tend to borrow less. As a result, many are “underbanked”—have little or no credit history. If a credit report is one of your job requirements, expect little or no information about unbanked Millennials.
Credit is already a slippery slope, with many states prohibiting use of credit for pre-employment screening. Credit information is a sensitive topic for many job candidates. It could be even touchier for Millennials.
5. Job History And Verifications
Millennials job-hop. According to Data Facts’ blog, “a whopping 91% of them don’t expect to stay at a job for longer than 3 years.” Moreover, according to a recent federal study, Millennials are less likely to have worked during school. So they are more likely to leave college without a work history.
All of this leaves a prospective employer with less to work with in terms of reference checking and verifications. As a result, screening for job history, applied skills and experience might be more challenging. One possible solution: expand the scope of inquiry to include volunteer experience and potentially personal references. However, the use of personal references and investigative reports may necessitate additional notices and further legal compliance under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.