How To Avoid Looking Out-Of-Date In Your Job Search
As you put together your updated or new resume, you start to gather all of the necessary information, including employment history, career accomplishments, educational information, trainings attended, and community volunteerism. Then, you begin the process of putting together all these details in a concise, cohesive, and targeted document. Your resume must intrigue someone enough to call you for an interview without being overwhelming to the reader or offering too little information. Did you know that—sometimes—dates on your resume can hurt your job search? Keep reading for advice on how and when to include dates on your resume—remember, it's all about perception.
Tip #1 – Don't include an overall 'years of working' number in the career history.
While it may be impressive to think that you have worked in a particular industry for 30 years, those reading the resume may see this as someone that is older, stagnant, and perhaps even stuck in his/her ways. Again, the resume is about perception—it doesn't mean that you are any of these things; however, you must think of it from the reader's point-of-view.
Instead of indicating the number of years you have been in a profession, use that space to mention a significant accomplishment, and important skill-set, or how you have made a valuable impact with a previous employer.
Tip #2 – Professional History doesn't require exact dates.
In a job application, a company may ask for the exact dates of employment; this isn't necessary with a resume. Instead, simply include the month and year of employment with the organization.
If you have had several jobs within a short timeframe, then you have the option to simply include the years. This may also minimize the appearance of job-hopping. If you do this, please be aware that you may still have to include exact dates when filling out an online application.
Tip #3 – List dates for the past 10-15 years of experience. Earlier career history is in a separate category with no dates.
Typically, we only include the last 10-15 years of job history because that is the most relevant to your future job search. Sometimes, I'm working with clients that want to include work from 20+ years ago because they feel it is pertinent to their current job search.
In these instances, we have our Professional History section and include dates with the most recent employment. Then, we have a separate section (after that) called Earlier Career Experience and include those job experiences. The difference? The earlier history has no dates associated with it. This allows the candidate to highlight his/her earlier expertise without drawing attention to the idea that this experience may be a bit older.
Bonus Tip: you don't have to include ALL of your earlier experience in this section. Include only that which is relevant to the job you are seeking. So, as an example, you may want to title this section Earlier Sales History or Previous Marketing Experience – this shows that you are only choosing what is relevant and there is no resume law saying that you HAVE to include every single position you have had throughout your career.
Tip #4 – Don't include dates in the education section.
My clients typically send me a copy of their most recent resume when we start to work together. Often, I will see that they graduated from college in 1982 or attended a technical college from 1997-1999, but didn't graduate.
The year you attended college or graduated with your degree does not matter—it really doesn't. What does matter is putting your college graduation date of 1975 on the resume and having the potential employer realize that you are old enough to retire. Although this shouldn't be a factor, it is a huge issue in today's workplace and opens you to age discrimination. Now, it may not take a rocket scientist to figure out how old you are, but why hand it out freely?
The ONLY time that I EVER include a date with education is if someone graduated from college two weeks ago and has little to no professional experience. That's it—otherwise, it's never included on my clients' resumes.
Tip #5 – Volunteerism doesn't need dates.
Use sections called Current Volunteerism or Past Community Engagement. There are times when people want to include volunteerism but it is no longer a current position. Rather than saying you were a volunteer for three organizations from 2000-2004, put it all into a section called Past Community Involvement and don't include dates. Because you are labeling it this way, people will automatically know that you are no longer doing this type of work.
Overall, before adding any volunteerism, consider if it is even necessary for the employer to know this information. If it doesn't help you with the job opportunity, then forego it on the resume.
Your resume is your chance to make a great first impression with a new employer—don't let dates harm you in the process.
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