The Y2K Bug… on your resume

You may remember this global panic around the turn of the century.  The “Y2K bug” was an obscure, but potentially disruptive, computer glitch that we spent $400 billion fixing. Midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999 came and went without the dawn of the apocalypse, however, and Y2K passed into history.

But now the Year 2000 Problem rises again and this time it’s on your resume: those dates and entries that indicate you were already out of college and in the workforce before the new millennium arrived give too much latitude to age discrimination.

At Ladders, we’ve got a simple solution for those of you with two or more decades of experience:

Don’t list any dates on your resume before the Year 2000.

Age discrimination is rampant in American work culture.

It’s unfair, unkind, and uncharitable of the world to treat you that way, but it’s also undeniably true that the bias against ‘the olds’ is creeping its way further and further down into the demographics.  It won’t be long before the oldest Millennials are considered washed up by their youngest peers.

I’ve written at some length before on how Age Discrimination is Mindset Discrimination, and the steps you can take to thrive in job interviews because of your experience rather than fear them because of your age.

But to master the interview you’ve got to get the interview.  And to get the interview, you’ve got to remove anything from the process that can trip you up.

And that means removing any date that looks like “19xx” from your resume.  Dates before the turn of the century give young resume screeners an unfortunately easy way to weed you out.  Don’t give them the chance.

What specific steps should you take?

Do list your college, MBA, or grad school, but do not list a graduation date.

If you went to State U. back in the 80s, list the school, the degree, and the awards, but don’t list a starting year or graduation date.

This may take some getting used to.  Because you identify with your alma mater and those bright college years, your resume will feel barren at first without your class year emblazoned there.  It may feel awkward, but it’s important to your cause — you will get used to it.

Don’t list your jobs before the Year 2000.

Your capabilities sixteen years ago just have very, very little to do with your present qualifications.  You were a different professional, at a different level, with different demands upon you and opportunities in front of you. Even if you were the wunderkind who was promoted the fastest and leapt the highest, it’s simply not relevant to your job search today.

So on substance, there is almost no reason to have jobs from the last century listed, so leave them off entirely.

If you’re a sentimentalist, and you simply must list that first, career-making stint with Goldman Sachs or working in the Senator’s office, then put it under the heading “Other Experience” without date attached.

And that’s because those dates from a prior millennium seem like ancient, ancient history to someone who matriculated kindergarten in 1999.  If you’ve ever dropped by a recruiter’s office, you know that with the extraordinary volume of resumes received, the job of doing the first pass on screening has fallen on younger and younger shoulders each year.

Honestly, they may not even be conscious of the fact that they’re putting us into the discard pile on the account of our age.

So don’t even inadvertently assist those latent tendencies on the part of our new youthful overlords: leave the dates from 1999 and before off your resume, and focus your story on your achievements in this century.

It’s the smartest way to get ahead in the New Year!

I’m rooting for you.