When Can I Leave Dates Off My Resume and LinkedIn?
So you’re worried about age discrimination … but also worried about leaving dates off your resume? Don’t panic — we have your answers.
Updated April 2023.
By: Matt Dupee | Resume Writer for Let’s Eat, Grandma
As a resume writer, I am often asked if it is okay to leave dates off a resume or Linkedin profile. Let’s face it: many of us have been in the workforce for quite some time and have to wonder what is still appropriate for a resume.
We are concerned about ageism and worried that our experiences back in the 90s may no longer be relevant, but unsure of what is acceptable for modern resume conventions. Or maybe we’re worried about a career gap, and we think leaving the dates off would downplay it.
Can you leave dates off, or will that be a red flag? Let’s dig in.
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Is leaving dates off a resume ever OK?
Leaving dates off of some older jobs on your resume is generally an acceptable practice to avoid age discrimination.
My rule of thumb is that if the professional experience or education happened more than 15 to 20 years ago, lose the date.
If the job should remain at all, that is. Note that this advice applies to older jobs that you’ve determined are important enough to be on your resume.
Older positions need compelling reasons to stay on your resume, such as a high-ranking position with a notable company, an older position from a career path that you’re moving back to, or a position that defined your career.
If an older job is unremarkable, just remove the position altogether.
If you’ve determined the older position should stay on your resume, but you want to lose the date, there are several ways to accomplish this without losing that great accomplishment from your early career.
I will almost always create an Early Career or Additional Career section within the resume. This allows me to break a few rules when it comes to formatting. In other words, once I leave the main Career Experience section of the resume, the next section can have a different format.
I can eliminate the dates and drastically reduce the amount of information I include. Usually I’ll just keep it to one or two of the most impressive accomplishments.
Or sometimes, if it’s just the job title or the company that’s notable, I can list the job title first (or the company) even if I did the opposite in the Career Experience section. I usually try to keep this all on one line as well.
The bottom line is an Early Career or Additional Career section will always be significantly shorter than the more recent career history and should only contain critical information.
Here’s an example of a Professional Experience section heading vs. an Early Career entry.
What about education dates?
Go for it!
For education, you can comfortably leave most graduation dates off without any consequences.
I will typically only list education dates if graduation is expected in the future or I’m writing an academic CV. Otherwise, I will always leave education dates off the resume.
When can I leave dates off my LinkedIn profile?
Unfortunately, you can’t. LinkedIn requires that you include a start and end year for each professional experience. This means that if you want to keep that role right out of college in 1992, you will have to show that date on LinkedIn.
This means you’re faced with two choices: eliminate the job, or take a chance that no one notices or minds that early date.
Is this older job or company really impressive enough to run the risk of age discrimination? It may be, but you need to seriously discern that.
And also, if you really can’t bear leaving out an impressive early job, but it was a really long time ago, you could consider mentioning it without dates in your About section.
Note: You can leave education dates off your LinkedIn profile, and just like on your resume, you can easily list educational experiences without dates without raising any eyebrows.
Again, I recommend leaving these off unless you have yet to graduate (graduation is upcoming), or your educational timeline is relevant to your career path.
The bottom line
So when should you leave dates off of your resume and LinkedIn — or leave a position off altogether?
My best advice is to absolutely remove anything and everything from before 1990; it won’t be relevant.
With technology clients, I also advise against listing anything prior to 1999, as technology has come a long way since then.
In all cases, use your best judgment, ask yourself if the particular job is vitally relevant to where you’re applying, and make an informed decision.
The decision to leave dates off your resume or LinkedIn profile, or deleting a position entirely, is a tough one. Letting go of that early career experience may seem scary. To you, the experience may seem as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.
But remember: Hiring managers see the world through a different lens. They’re more concerned with what you did today, yesterday, and last week.
Technology evolves, methodologies evolve, and the workforce itself evolves. If we don’t evolve our resumes and LinkedIn profiles to meet these fast-paced, modern requirements, we may be left back in the 90s waiting for AOL to load.
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