Four Tips for Screening Millennials


Two years ago, millennials, defined as people between the ages of 19 to 35, surpassed baby boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. workforce. Today, more than one-third of the American workforce are millennials. Because of unique dynamics for their generation, millennials have special factors to consider when integrating them into the workforce.

The rising generation of millennials have created a need for workplaces to adapt their hiring practices, including background screening. Employers need to take into account screening practices that are both effective and legal. Here are four recommendations to make your screening practices compliant and Millennial-friendly.

  1. Create an improved digital experience  

Millennials are comfortable with technology and used to performing many tasks and transactions on the web or on mobile devices. When applying for your positions, millennials expect a seamless digital experience. If asked to submit information for background screening and onboarding with snail mail, in person signatures, or redundant data entry, many millennials are unlikely to even apply to your organization.

During the application process, the digital experience can be greatly improved through integrating background screening provider into an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). For example, Verified First integrates seamlessly with over 50 ATS systems to cut back on candidate paperwork and avoid duplicate data entry. Because candidates are able to review all required disclosures online and sign electronically, it can save several days in the hiring process. Creating a smooth online applicant process presents a strong impression of your organization to millennials, digital natives who are accustomed to this standard.

  1. Be careful with social media screening  

It’s well known that Millennials are prevalent on many social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Because they often freely share without fully understanding the impact it can have on their careers, it’s tempting for hiring managers to leverage their information to make a hiring decision. Because social media sites are not always privacy protected, information is often readily available.

The problem is that information extracted from social media profiles may not be used to make a hiring decision. Information about a job seeker’s marital status, national origin, religion, health condition or sexual orientation may be protected under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Because of millennials’ tendency to overshare, an employer is more likely to inadvertently find protected class information. Before conducting any social media screenings, employers should ensure that it is properly conducted by experts familiar with anti-discrimination and privacy laws.

  1. Account for limited driving and credit history

Millennials drive less than past generations and some are not even getting their driver’s license. Although it would not be discriminatory to require a driver’s license or run a motor vehicle check, it could limit your options for candidates between 20 – 30 years old. Before requiring these checks or similar requirements, you may want to consider if it’s relevant to your position.

Likewise, regarding credit history, it’s important to note that millennials rely less on traditional bank loans and credit cards than any other generation. They’re more likely to pay with cash and borrow less, meaning that they often have little or no credit history. If one of your job requirements is a credit report, it’s unlikely that you’ll find any substantial information on millennials candidates.

However, unless you are screening for a finance position or the credit check has specific relevance to your company, you may want to skip the credit screening entirely. TransUnion, a major credit reporting company, admitted in public testimony that they lacked research to show a statistical correlation between a candidate’s credit report and their job performance or likelihood to commit fraud. Additionally, because some candidates may have weak credit because of factors beyond their control, such as a layoff or medical bills, a credit report would be an unfair and incomplete portrayal of who they are as a candidate.

  1. Account for limited job history and plan alternatives to employment verifications

Many millennials have a limited work history. On top of that, they are usually mobile and more likely to job hop. Because of these factors, it’s more challenging for an employer to screen for job history, skills, and experience. There’s simply less to work with regarding reference checking and verifications.

To compensate for this, employers are well advised to look for creative solutions to evaluate and screen a millennial candidate. For example, they may want to evaluate volunteer experience and contact personal references, as long as their efforts are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As long as millennials can show how their experiences outside the workplace is relevant, they can still demonstrate their qualifications for an open position.

Alternatively, some hiring managers may consider using a Behavior Event Interview (BEI) to assess how a candidate would handle certain experiences. Examples of relevant questions could be, “Tell me about a time you failed – how did you deal with the situation?” or “Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself – how did you ensure you would meet your objective?” Through asking open-ended questions that encourages a candidate to explain their motivations and experiences, it’s easier for a hiring manager to assess if a millennial would be a good fit for their company.

Leverage the Millennial Experience

Millennials are on track to become the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce. To leverage their experience, make sure your company’s hiring process are aligned to take advantage of this trend. If you’d like to learn how to implement best screening practices that will help you acquire millennials, click here to learn how Verified First can improve your recruiting process.

Alisiana Peters

Author: Alisiana Peters

Alisiana is a marketing coordinator at HiringThing, an award-winning online recruiting software provider dedicated to changing the way businesses hire talent. Questions? Contact HiringThing Marketing.