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Should you remove your graduation year from your resume?

Could being young hurt your chances of getting hired? Here’s how you can even the playing field.

Should you remove your graduation year from your resume?

Imagine being singled out before even being considered for a job because of your age. Talk about unfair. But, evidently, it’s very real. And while it used to be baby boomers who were worried about age discrimination, the tables have turned.

Hiring managers are three times more likely to hire a worker 50 years old or older than hire a millennial, an Adecco survey found. Those 60:20 odds represent a very negative perception of 18-to-30-somethings as being flaky, unprofessional and unwilling to take direction. Ouch.

But let’s say, for example, that you don’t fit in with this stereotype. Maybe you’re ready to enter the workforce and can bring value to a company. How do you work your way around the millennial stigma? Should you exclude your graduation year from your resume since it can be indicative of your age? What’s the best way to handle this so you get a fair shot?

We spoke with experts to weigh in on what you should do to avoid being discriminated against based on a number.

How to handle your age on your resume

Well, for one, career experts agree: There is no rule that you have to put your graduation year on your resume.

While removing the year can be a smart move to deflect attention from your exact age, career experts suggest that you focus on your experience instead of worrying about your age.

If you choose to leave your graduation date out, Ryan Kahn, 38, career coach and founder of California-based staffing agency The Hired Group, advises to “keep your resume in a simple format and showcase all your relevant experience toward the top. That will stand out more so than your graduation year.”

Removing your graduation year is truly a personal choice, says Holly Berry, 33, managing partner at Vaco, a consulting and specialized recruiting firm, in Louisville, Kentucky. “I'm sure, in some cases, companies choose to hire more experienced individuals. But most companies will be excited to hire new college graduates.”

So you’re wondering: Is a missing graduation date a deal breaker for getting past the resume screening stage? “Not if the rest of your resume is impressive and your overall qualifications are strong,” says Pamela Skillings, chief interview coach and co-founder of job coaching program Big Interview in New York.

How to handle your age in your interview

You made it past the initial screen of your resume, but what happens if your graduation year or age comes up during the interview?

When it comes down to it, career experts say your skills matter more than your age. But if you’re still worried about age discrimination, Berry says to focus on highlighting your useful skills.

This includes being able to discuss your internships, strong technology and communication skills and answering questions such as, “How do you handle conflict?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?

“College graduates who are willing to learn as much as they can, and who are willing to work for less money than an experienced candidate are very marketable,” says Berry. “Completing internships and having a high GPA is strongly recommended for new college graduates entering the workforce.”

“The key is to show you have the experience and maturity required to do the job, along with all of your other strengths and abilities,” says Skillings. “If you are going up against older candidates, your main disadvantage is likely to be less experience. Describe the experience that you do have in a way that shows you're the best person for the job.”

Screen your resume

There are plenty of tricky do's and don'ts associate with writing your resume. It's tempting to ignore some of the minor details, but if you want to make a great first impression on a hiring manager, you should buckle down and commit to making your resume as polished as possible. Need some help? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Regardless of how old you are, everyone could use a professional set of eyes to help you fine-tune your candidacy. 

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