If you’re an older job seeker, you’ve probably wondered if it’s advisable to leave employment dates off of your resume. Here are a few things to consider.
Older job seekers get a lot of advice, and for good reason. According to an AARP study, “nearly 2 out of 3 workers ages 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job.” Survey respondents said they faced layoffs, were passed over for promotions, and experienced lengthier job searches all due to career ageism.
There are no cut-and-dried answers that will work for every older job seeker in every situation. But there are some general principles to keep in mind when considering resume dates.
Should Older Workers Leave Dates Off Resumes?
Ultimately, leaving or including dates on your resume is up to you. Here are a few things to consider when make the decision and some ideas on what to do to help de-age your resume.
Watch the applicant tracking systems.
Not everyone agrees, but many career experts think that it’s important to keep dates on your resume.
FlexJobs’ career specialist and career coach, Brie Reynolds offers this: “It’s still really important to include your work experience dates on your resume. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) will actually use these dates to determine how much career experience you have, so if they’re missing, you might be scored with zero years of work history and eliminated from consideration.”
Even if your resume doesn’t go through an applicant tracking system, without dates listed, a hiring manager will have no idea how many years you spent at each job. Having 10 years of experience at your manager-level job means a lot more than six months.
Without dates included, employers will be left to guess what your level of experience actually is and what kind of longevity you have for each role. This can make or break your chance of getting an interview.
Create a functional resume instead.
If you really want to leave dates off of your resume, it’s best to use a functional resume format. A functional resume focuses on your skills, rather than listing your employment in a chronological order.
Add a summary at the top of your resume that quickly highlights your experience for the role you’re applying to. Then, section your resume into skills and list your experience underneath each skill in a bullet point setup. If you’re a marketing professional, for example, your skills section might list “Inbound Marketing,” “Social Media Strategy,” and “Web Analytics.”
Remove your graduation dates instead.
Not all dates on your resume are created equal. Removing your graduation dates from your resume can be a wise move and provide a little extra “anonymity” when it comes to your age.
FlexJobs’ career specialist and career coach, Brie Reynolds says: “It’s becoming standard practice for most professionals to leave graduation dates off a resume unless they are fairly recent, within the last five years or so. As this becomes a more widespread practice, it’s less of a red flag that signals an older worker’s resume.”
Limit your resume’s work history.
It’s a smart practice to limit how far back you list your job history when you have more than a decade of experience in the workforce.
“Older workers (and all workers, really) can limit their work history. Unless the job calls for a huge amount of experience, most coaches recommend including the last 10 to 15 years of your work history, with dates, on your resume. Anything older than that can be kept off the resume. Or, it can be included as a brief summary with job titles and company names, but no dates, in an ‘Additional Experience’ section,” says Reynolds.
Fine-Tuning Your Resume
Listing dates on your resume can be tricky, but these tips can help you guide you on your final decision. Although being a more veteran job seeker comes with its share of unique challenges, remember to emphasize your virtues as a senior-level employee. Older workers bring a depth of experience, career wisdom, and often a stronger sense of commitment than greener candidates. Use these benefits to your advantage to land the job you want.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on April 24, 2014.
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