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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau have found that Millennials – defined as people aged 18 to 34 in 2015 – numbered 75.4 million and in 2015 surpassed the 74.9 million Baby Boomers aged 51 to 69, according to a Pew Research Center article. The fact that Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. workforce and are making employers change their methods of background screening for job applicants is Trend Number 7 in the Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) 10th annual ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends’ for 2017.

“Now that Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest group in the workforce, employers need to be sensitive to special issues in hiring and working with Millennials. Studies and practical experience show Millennials are influenced by factors much different than Baby Boomers and are motivated and communicate in much different ways,” says ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen. The list featuring emerging and influential trends in the background check industry for 2017 will be available at

The Pew Research Center article also revealed that Millennials would continue to grow as young immigrants enter the U.S. and are projected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million. Generation X – defined as people aged 35 to 50 in 2015 – should pass the Baby Boomers in population by 2028. Pew Research Center defined the most recent generations in the U.S. as follows: Millennial Generation (Born 1981 to 1997), Generation X (Born 1965 to 1980), Baby Boom Generation (Born 1946 to 1964), Silent Generation (Born 1928 to 1945), and Greatest Generation (Born before 1928).

With Millennials surpassing Baby Boomers as the largest generation of workforce aged people in the U.S., employers will have to adjust workplaces and hiring processes to suit the more mobile technology and social media oriented behavior of this generation. The most critical issue employers find with millennials, however, is that it is the most “wired” generation so far in history. That means the applicant experience is critical. 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 screening, millennials, by virtue of being younger, may have less information to obtain. They will have a more limited work history and less of a credit history. Given a high percentage of millennials that have given up on the idea of car ownership in order to use rideshare services, driving records may not yield much information either. Millennials also make up a large chunk on the emerging “Gig Economy” by having jobs with transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft.

“Applicant Experience” is also a critical consideration for the background check process when it comes to attracting Millennials. The focus should be on making the applicant experience as comfortable as possible as well as assuring applicants that their background checks are accurate, legally compliant, and privacy rights are 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 over the background check process.

Employers need to recognize the importance of the applicant experience during the background check process in relation to their employer brand with Millennials. To create an ideal applicant experience first requires transparency with background check policies and practices. Since a background check can be an uncomfortable process for Millennials, employers should explain what searches will be performed. 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 background check report, the background check firm should provide them top notch customer service and assistance. It is important for Millennials to 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 background check report. Information about applicant rights during a background check is in the form ‘A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.’

As for “social media background checks,” some Millennials may consider their use to be an invasion of privacy but these checks will continue to grow as Millennials impact the U.S. workforce. The number of employers using social media background checks to screen job candidates increased 500 percent over the past decade, according to the annual CareerBuilder social media recruitment survey, with 60 percent of employers using social media to research job candidates in 2016, up significantly from 52 percent in 2015, 22 percent in 2008, and 11 percent in 2006, when the survey was first conducted.

The CareerBuilder social media recruitment survey revealed that of the 59 percent of hiring managers who used search engines to research candidates, nearly half of them – 49 percent – found information available through social media that caused them not to hire a job candidate. The top types of social media content that had a negative effect on potential employers was provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information (46 percent), information about candidate drinking or using drugs (43 percent), and discriminatory comments related to race, religion, and gender (33 percent).

However, the survey also found that nearly one-third of employers who screened candidates through social media – 32 percent – found information that caused them to hire a candidate, including a candidate’s background information supported job qualifications (44 percent), a candidate’s site conveying a professional image (44 percent), a candidate’s personality coming across as a good fit with company culture (43 percent), a candidate being well-rounded and showing a wide range of interests (40 percent), and a candidate having great communication skills (36 percent).

In addition, the survey found that 41 percent of employers used social networking sites to research current employees, nearly a third – 32 percent – used search engines to check up on current employees, and more than one in four – 26 percent – found content online that caused them to reprimand or even fire an employee. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder between February 10, 2016, and March 17, 2016, and included a representative sample of 2,186 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,031 full time U.S. workers in the private sector.

These days no discussion about employment screening is complete without an analysis of how so-called “social media background checks” can be used for uncovering a treasure trove of information about job candidates. 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?

In February 2016, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) released an update of its complimentary whitepaper written by CEO Rosen entitled “Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks.” This whitepaper provides an introduction to using 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 from ESR is available to download at

ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2017 Webinar

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen will host a live complimentary webinar entitled ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2017’ on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Noon Pacific Time. To register for the free webinar, please visit

The webinar is approved for 1.0 (HR (General)) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). The webinar is worth 1.0 Professional Development Credit (PDC) from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP™) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP™).

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.

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