Ageism and the Online Job Application


I have a bone to pick with online job applications. How are companies remaining compliant with federal and state laws that prohibit asking a job seeker how how s/he is? If you’re as old as I am, you may remember the day of listing a date of birth on an official job application. Today’s documents now ask “Are you over the age of 18?” That’s a good start, but in today’s world you have to fill out these applications at the start of the job search, rather than after the interview. And that’s my beef.

The real problem I see is further down on these applications in the education section. It requires you to list your high school and the year you graduated. If you leave it blank your application may be rejected, assuming you can’t or won’t follow directions, or you are not that thorough when completing tasks. Why can’t it just ask “did you graduate?” Later, after it’s decided you’re a good fit for the company, then you can fill in the blanks for the background check.

I’m not sure how HR people get around this. They’re aware of the laws, and that it’s prohibited to ask a candidate’s age. Yet anyone able to do simple math can figure out that most people graduate high school around the age of 18. Add that to a graduation year of 1970 and it’s immediately known the job seeker is about 58 years old. In today’s society of ageism, that could pose a huge potential for age discrimination and subsequent lawsuits.

The online application needs to be refined to remain in compliance with hiring laws. I hope the folks at SHRM are paying attention.

— Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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