Should you include graduation dates on your resume? The answer is, “sometimes.” Everything on your resume should be truthful. Secondly, you should supply required information. As important as honesty and required data, your resume should include accomplishments that prove your value. With those three principles in mind, let’s break it down so that you can decide what is best for you.
Is It Truthful?
If you show your graduation date, be truthful. It is never prudent to show a false date. If you are selected for an interview, you will complete an employment applicant and you’ll likely be asked for your graduation date on that application so the employer can verify your degree. Don’t get caught in a lie.
What Is Required Information?
Regarding education, required information includes the type of degree (or diploma), field of study, and name of school. It is helpful, but not necessary, to show the city and state for the school. Do not fudge on the degree. If you did not earn the degree, do not state a degree. Even if you were only one course short of earning the degree, do not mislead that you earned the degree. Here are two examples:
If you earned the degree:
Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Bachelor of Arts: Human Biology
If you did not complete the degree:
Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Key Completed Courses: Biological Development, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Human Physiology, and Calculus
When Should You Include a Graduation Date?
If you are a recent graduate with limited work experience, showing your graduation date explains to the reader why you have limited work history. For recent graduates, it is wise to show your graduation year or if you did not graduate, years of study.
When Should You Exclude a Graduation Date?
Age discrimination is an issue and it starts earlier than most people want to believe. It is probably not an employer’s policy to avoid older candidates. Perhaps it is a subconscious preference by the person leading the selection process. Maybe it is the assumption that a candidate with deep experience will cost more than the younger candidate. To maximize the interview invitation rate, it is very wise for seasoned candidates to exclude graduation dates.
Why Hide My Age?
Many clients and some advocates will say, “Why hide from your age? Aren’t you proud of your age and don’t employers want an experienced professional?" Those are valid points. However, I would rather my clients have ten interview invitations than two. Experience has revealed to me that candidates over the age of 45 who truncate their history and eliminate the date of graduation have a higher interview request rate.
Which Advice to Follow?
On the subject of graduation dates on a resume, you will find divergent advice. A recruiter, for example, works on behalf of their client (the hiring employer). They want as much information as possible. It is not uncommon for recruiters to advise a candidate to create a resume with graduation dates and their entire employment history, even if it is to the detriment of the candidate. While a recruiter may advise you to share everything, most resume writers and career coaches will suggest omitting the graduation dates on resumes in certain situations. Resume writers and career coaches work for you and will advise what is most beneficial to you.
Omitting years of graduation on a resume is generally accepted. When reading resumes, more often than not graduation dates are omitted. Each case is unique. If you need help with your resume strategy, contact me.