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Are Older Job Seekers Being Blocked From Applying Online?

You're a job seeker over a certain age applying for jobs online. Too bad the years listed in the drop-down menu don't go back far enough for you to apply honestly!

As if being older doesn't present enough indignities in the modern workplace, there's a brewing controversy that some job websites might be finding some not-so-innovative ways to block older workers from even being able to apply in the first place!

How might older job seekers be getting shut out online? By going to apply for a job and finding the dates listed in the drop-down menus go back only so far, for example. Say you graduated from undergrad in 1985 and want to be honest in saying you graduated from college before the hiring manager was even born (good for you, so confident), but you don't see 1985 listed anywhere in the site's drop-down menu as you listen to Simply Red's Holding Back the Years album. The years, for some reason, stop at 1990. Don't you forget about me, indeed.

So sneaky, right? Congratulations, your online application might only let you get so old, which is not that old, if you get my drift. Think of it as plastic surgery for your online resume, or a little Botox for the careerist soul. Now you can theoretically be forever young, thanks to modern hiring software!

If you're thinking, "nobody would ever do such a thing," then you might want to read up on the battle surrounding online application software systems vs. older applicants. The Illinois Attorney General has opened a probe into allegations that ageism is built right into the online software tools Americans are using to find work, according to a CNBC article.

Of course, you can always select the last year listed in the online menu, and rationalize it by telling yourself the employer wouldn't allow you to be honest with them because you couldn't roll back all the way to list your actual college years. So you "had" to pick 1990, which is as far back as the dates would go. But lying on a job application won't work for job seekers in search of honestly-gained employment, and so we crank up M.C. Hammer's Too Legit To Quit and log off without finishing the application.

In defense of the young software programmers building today's online hiring software tools, 1985 simply might not compute in their minds as something to include in a drop-down menu. Was anyone alive back then? (Yes.) How did they survive without the internet? (Life was good, and the music was even better.) The Millennials have only heard about the '70s and '80s in history class, or during a National Geographic special their parents made them watch. So a drop-down years menu on a hiring website that goes back only so far could be a function of clueless generational myopia rather than malicious generational discrimination. Just putting this theory out there to be fair, and balanced.

Is ageism allegedly being built into today's hiring software? Hmm. We'll see where this controversy goes as we wash those grays right out of our hair. In the meantime, we might adjust our reading glasses to take a second look at the drop-down years menu when applying for jobs online. How far back in time can we go before time stops? 1990? 1980? 1970? 1960? 1950? So much for partying like it's 1999. Man, those were the days.


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