Should Your Resume Include Dates?

Should Your Resume Include Dates? was originally published on Idealist Careers.

How much information on a resume is too much? When it comes to specifics like the dates of past employment, many applicants don’t want to leave crucial information to give hiring managers a sense of their work history.

Years of Experience

Reality is, ageism is a bias that organizations are still working to overcome. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employees start facing workplace age discrimination as early as age 40.

The good news for seasoned professionals: after over a decade in the workforce, you have more room to pick and choose which past jobs to include. Like all job hunters you want to emphasize skills and experience relevant to the position, not list everything you’ve done since graduation.

In fact, career experts often advise leaving out any jobs dating back more than 10 or 15 years ago. This way you can present a career trajectory with few, if any, gaps in employment and avoid stressing about dates.

But there are exceptions. If a job calls for 20 years’ work experience in a certain field, for instance, why not flaunt it if you have it? In this case, the years of your past jobs will establish you as a longstanding field expert.

Include current training, certifications, and positions that are either A) relevant to the role or B) provides crucial context of transferable skills.

Month or Year Format?

Should you list the months you spent at each position as well as the years? This question is more complicated. Most often when you submit your resume, you are submitting it through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Each ATS prefers and recognizes dates in a specific way, most commonly preferring dates to include the month and the year. Jobscan is a tool that mimics an ATS system and can help identify the ATS system the company uses.

One reason to not include month and year would be if you have made more than one job change in under a year or two-year period. If this is a repetitive pattern throughout your resume, hiring managers may question the reasoning for the frequent job changes. This is a question you can address in the cover letter and interview stage.

Another common reason applicants choose not to include dates if they have stayed with the company or move within the company for over 5 years.

Graduation Dates

Recent graduates with fewer than five years of experience cane include their graduation year.

If you have recently completed a professional training program, certification, or advanced degree that demonstrates you have the most up-to-date education in your field, this could be a reason to include graduation date or certificate date.

Experienced professionals with more than 5 to 10 years of experience do not need to include graduation dates. Employers will be more interested in your professional accomplishments at this stage.

As mentioned before, unfortunately, ageism can occur in hiring processes and typically graduation dates are an indicator of age. While dates are important, remember that they’re only one aspect of your career story. Regardless of your age and work history, tailoring your resume to show how you can best add value to the organization is key to landing an interview.

By Sarah Seavey - Idealist Careers
Idealist Careers
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