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Advice / Job Search / Resumes

Your Handy Answer to "How Long Do I Keep My Graduation Year on My Resume?"

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Your resume should (hopefully) be bursting with captivating details about your work history, proudest accomplishments, areas of expertise, and educational background. Ideally, its contents will be so compelling that a hiring manager would jump at the opportunity to add you to their team. Sounds easy enough, right? If only.

Virtually every job seeker struggles with what they should keep or cut, and the year they graduated is no exception. Having a degree is a big deal—you worked hard for that thing! But while incorporating details about your education into your resume or LinkedIn profile is a no-brainer, sharing too much information could potentially hurt your chances of getting hired.

At best, keeping your graduation date on there for too long might make you seem a bit out of touch. At worst, you may be discriminated against for your age.

In fact, there’s no rule that says you have to include the year you earned your degree at all, but the longest you’d want to keep that information is about 10 to 15 years, tops. Similar to your work history, anything that happened more than a decade ago probably won’t be very relevant to what you’re capable of today.

If it’s time to pull the date, you’ll still want to include the type of degree you earned, the subject(s) you studied, and, of course, the school you attended. Still, it’d be wise to move this section toward the bottom, as recruiters are going to be way more interested in your recent work history than anything else.

While this is a best practice that’ll apply to most people, there are always exceptions—particularly if you want to seem more experienced than your work history or appearance suggests. The reality is, age discrimination isn’t just reserved for seasoned professionals; It happens to newbies, too.

For example, if you’ve just finished school but have some decent work to speak of, removing your graduation date could help your chances of scoring an interview, as it’ll help you to appear less green.

Conversely, if you happen to look much younger than your work history would suggest, you may want to leave your graduation date to help establish the full breadth of your accomplishments—especially if you’re targeting senior leadership roles.

Think of your experience as shrinking in a rearview mirror as you move forward in your career—the more recent, the more details you’ll want to include. The less-recent work will simply take up less space over time and may ultimately fade from sight.