Dos and Don’ts in Job Advertisements | DCR Workforce Blog

Dos and Don’ts in Job Advertisements

do and dontStatement: Gone are the days when employers would advertise for ‘young and dynamic’ candidates or for female candidates only.

Is the above statement true or false?

Apparently this is false, because the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is still citing employers for specifying the gender of the applicant or setting age limits for applicants. Such specific requirements lead to the disqualification of some protected classes, whose right to protection from discrimination under Title VII is guarded zealously by the EEOC. The EEOC found 121 such cases in 2014, with predominant discrimination against an applicant’s age.

Employers can ask for age only when the law establishes a limit on the appropriate age for the job, as in the case of airline pilots who must retire by the age of 65. In all other cases, there is a need to prove that age would limit an applicant’s capability to perform on the job. No employer can set limits on the age of an applicant if they wish to stay on the right side of laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or ADEA, which was passed in 1967.


Make sure you review the wording of a job advertisement or description, and convey your expectations, without discriminating against age.

  • If you feel the job requires recent graduates who have no experience, make that clear by specifying the required experience as ‘zero’ or by calling it an entry-level job.
  • Focus on the position and the tasks which need to be performed and the expected results, rather than the attributes of the person who would be delivering on those tasks.
  • List the desired skills and qualifications, making sure that they do not invite a potential discrimination claim.
  • If specifying that the job requires able-bodied workers only, do refer to the tenets of the ADA before specifying such a requirement.
  • Do make legally consistent decisions when specifying the background checks which may be required before a candidate can be hired.


Other precautions could help an employer deal with the demands of the regulatory environment and stay compliant with its various requirements.

  • Avoid all references to age, or any inferred meaning through terms like ‘young’, ‘recent college graduate’ which discriminate against age.
  • Avoid all questions which could help deduce the applicant’s age, like date of birth or year of graduation, before making a hiring decision.
  • Never get caught in a position where a candidate is rejected for not having skills which were never advertised as a requirement.
  • When determining that a seemingly qualified candidate will not be considered for a position, avoid explanations that state that the candidate is “over qualified”. Everyone, including the courts, recognizes that as code for too old.

It is necessary to keep in mind that any job advertisement or description must conform to the various Acts which govern employer-employee relations, like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The information technology industry is coming under the scanner as the EEOC just settled a case with Facebook over an advertisement asking for a 2007 graduate. This is not a surprise when we know that according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive “Young people are just smarter”. He made this statement on a conference stage in 2007 when he was 22. Today, he is 30 and will be 31 the year after, and so on! It is to be seen if he stays with his stated opinion even as we see 80 year olds today driving to work, traveling the world, sitting on the boards of companies as a directors, conversing brilliantly on diverse topics, and playing the stock market. Those of us who have followed the career of Warren Buffet recognize that age is not an indicator of talent, business acumen or drive.

It is time to revise those attitudes and job descriptions together!

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.