Regular readers know I always tell my clients there is no ONE RIGHT way to conduct a job search. Best practices? Yes. Opinions on the best way to do things? Absolutely! The trick is to identify people who provide opinions based on actual information from people involved in hiring. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people advising job seekers based on nothing but their own experience, which may or may not translate effectively to others.
One slightly controversial piece of advice regarding resumes is about using dates. Typically, when I hear arguments about including dates or not on a resume, the focus is on graduation dates, but I’ve recently become aware that some people are advising job seekers to list some of their job experience without dates.
Graduation Dates on Resumes
Some people believe if they graduated from college too long ago, hiring managers will pass over their resume, assuming them to be too old, too inflexible or too expensive to hire (based on the number of years of experience).
Advice to remove graduation dates targets younger and younger people! I had one client tell me he’d been advised to take the years off of his schooling since it had been more than five years ago. That is an extreme piece of advice. Generally, anyone over 50 may be told to make themselves “look younger” by removing graduation dates.
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Should you leave graduation dates (years) off of your resume? I’m not a fan of this practice. Why? Because, if you leave off the date, you allow the reader to assume when you may have graduated. The hiring manager will naturally believe you are “more experienced” — perhaps even much more experienced (read: older) than you actually are! If your goal is to look younger, that’s what we on Twitter would label a major #FAIL.
Are there circumstances where leaving off graduation dates may make sense? Possibly. If you could have retired 10 years ago, you probably can’t hurt yourself leaving off your graduation date!
Dates for Experience
I’m working with a client now who has been advised to list certain jobs she held in the past without dates. Not all of her work experience, just a few older positions. At first, I thought she had misunderstood the previous career advisor’s instructions, but from talking to a few people, it appears as if this advice to omit dates on certain job experiences is typical.
My bias is to always include dates on experience; I thought it was crazy to advise a job seeker to leave dates off of certain work experience. (My preference would be to leave off the jobs altogether if they were not crucial to the candidate’s time line. For example, account for the last 10-15 years of experience and omit older jobs that don’t add anything to your candidacy.)
I’ve spent a lot of time with recruiters who influence some of my advice to job seekers. Granted, most jobs are not filled via recruiters, but I believe their take on resume norms is valuable, since they constantly evaluate candidates. I posed the question of dates on a resume to my Twitter community, saying, “#Recruiters -I have a client who’s been advised to list jobs withOUT dates on resume. Planning to blog about this. Love to quote you!”
These are the replies I received. Read them from the bottom up to follow the conversation.
While @RapidBi, an organizational change consultant, believed there could be a case for a resume without all of the dates, clearly the trend in this unscientific survey points toward including dates or risking attracting suspicion.
If someone is telling you to leave dates off of your resume, only do so after carefully considering the possible ramifications. Have I heard of people who removed certain dates (typically graduation dates) and still landed interviews? Yes, I have. Be sure to make your decision from an informed perspective. Ask you advisor or coach why he or she recommends one way or another; don’t be afraid to inquire why. Anyone who knows what they are doing will welcome the opportunity to explain.
photo by Caro’s Lines