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CEO Corner: Is it discriminatory to use “new grad” in a job ad?

As more and more people seek continuing education for professional development or to support career shifts, can the term new grad be considered discriminatory?

Published on

October 7, 2022


To me, a new grad is someone who has recently graduated from their studies. However, a recent incident with a major, third-party job search site made me wonder.

In a nutshell: We posted an ad for a client looking for a Legal Assistant who has current knowledge of civil litigation. The client suggested we describe the ideal candidate as “a new grad with exposure to the legal field.” They didn’t specify an age; they were merely looking for someone with current knowledge.

To my surprise, the job search site blocked the ad for being non-compliant with their Age Discrimination Policy. I was shocked. 

Sure, most new grads in Canada are in their 20s, but as a fan of lifelong learning and a fierce advocate for following your passion, I think a new grad can be someone of any age.

For example, look at the 87-year-old grandma who graduated last year with a master’s degree from York University, driven by her passion for political science. Amazing!

And according to Maclean’s, a wave of mature students registered for classes during the pandemic, whether it was due to job loss, to take advantage of extra time to learn something new, proactively switch careers or to contribute more to society (by learning about disaster management or becoming a healthcare worker, for example).

So, how can the term “new grad” be discriminatory?

According to our legal team, the term “new grad” is not discriminatory because there’s no age limit for students; many adults go back to school for continuing education and in today’s job market, with more open roles than available workers to fill them, I say bring it on.

Canada needs as many qualified candidates as possible because our current supply simply doesn’t meet the demand for talent, so I applaud everyone, regardless of age, who seeks training and education to land a meaningful role in their field of choice.

I pride myself on being inclusive as an employer and in all the work we do as an organization with clients and candidates. We work hard to actively advocate for diverse slates of candidates, and place thousands of qualified workers every year ranging in age from 21 to 77, with the average age of our candidates on assignment being around 40.

So, I’m wondering, what do you think as an employer? Is it discriminatory to use “new grad” in a job ad? Have you had any trouble with this term in your job ads? And if you’re a candidate, what do you think when you see a job ad looking for a “new grad”? Does it connote a particular age?

We’d love to hear your thoughts:

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