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Speaking of a company's age requirement,

a) To apply for the job, the candidate must have been born on or before 1st Jan. 2000.

b) To apply for the job, the candidate has to have been born on or before 1st Jan. 2000.

c) To apply for the job, the candidate had to have been born on or before 1st Jan. 2000.

Which is correct?

By all of the sentences above, I intend to imply:

To apply for the job, the candidate must be at least 21 years old.

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    Some writers might sometimes prefer had to have been over must have been simply because they feel uncomfortable using must as a past tense verb (see Is "must" ever grammatical as a past tense verb? as asked some years ago on ELU). Note that there's a meaningful difference between OP's examples #2 (current) & #3 (past), but that can't be conveyed using the format of #1 (we can only only do this with must by significant restructuring to it must be / must have been the case that the candidate was born...). Sep 28 at 10:47
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a) To apply for the job, the candidate must have been born on or before 1st Jan. 2000.

Correct.

b) To apply for the job, the candidate has to have been born on or before 1st Jan. 2000.

Correct, although (a) is perhaps easier to read.

c) To apply for the job, the candidate had to have been born on or before 1st Jan. 2000.

Wrong: the tense implies that it is no longer possible to apply for the job (which I know isn't your intention).

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  • Just one more question, please: Are these also correct: (1) To apply for the job, the candidate must be born on or before 1st Jan. 2000. (2) To apply for the job, the candidate has to be born on or before 1st Jan. 2000?
    – Mr. X
    Sep 30 at 12:36
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    They're not inherently wrong, but they suggest that you are writing before the year 2000 about children yet to be born. So in the sense that you intend them, I think they are poorly worded.
    – rjpond
    Sep 30 at 13:12
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I would say none of them, as your age requirement cannot control people applying but only getting hired.

As for your date issue, instead of stating the date in the posting I would instead simply state the age requirement: "To be considered for this position the applicant must be at least 21 years old on the day the application is submitted." If you state the day in the posting that's fine for that particular day but doesn't work tomorrow or the day after and so on.

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  • The age requirement doesn't compel people to apply if they meet the specified conditions - all it does is prevent people from (validly) applying if they don't meet that prerequisite, which is perfectly natural. Sep 27 at 17:52
  • @SoronelHaetir, I was just asking about the grammar, and not the logic of those sentences. If you were born on or before 1st Jan. 2000, you must be at least 21 years old. That's just common sense! I didn't dislike your post, though.
    – Mr. X
    Sep 27 at 19:04

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