Age Discrimination is a real thing. Unfortunately, when you apply for jobs online the forms you fill out will make “Graduation Year” a required field in order to submit your resume.
Now, this is a bit of a tricky situation. For one thing, companies are not allowed to ask you your age (but they can ask if you are over 18). You know your graduation year may give a company a ballpark estimate of your real age. Typically, most get their bachelor’s degree between ages 21 to 23. At first, it is great to have on your resume to indicate that you are a fresh job seeker on the market. But when should you take it off?
As your career progresses, that graduation year combined with more than a decade’s worth of experience can lead to companies discriminating against you due to your age. In this post, we can explain one method to handle this and also the best time to take your graduation year off your resume.
Methods of handling online forms with required fields
The simplest and most direct way to answer this:
Lie about your graduation year.
If you are job seeking in your 40’s, you had most likely graduated in the early 1990’s. But you are protected against Age Discrimination in the United States. However, this is very difficult to prove. So, on your required graduation year, claim to have graduated 10 years later. Do the math and try to make it seem like you are really in your mid-30’s.
After this, go through your social media accounts and make sure your birthday and graduation year does not appear. Companies are allowed to ask if you are older than 18, but they are never allowed to bluntly ask, “How old are you?”.
The other thing you can do is skip the job application for requiring your graduation year. Any company that is deliberately trying to get around a law protecting you from Age Discrimination should give you cause for concern.
The best time to take the graduation year off your resume
You can imagine, given the fact this topic is taboo and can lead to legal problems in companies, there is no “official rule” that says you have to include the graduation year on your resume. More so, there is no rule as to when it should be taken off.
However, when applying for jobs, the recommended amount of time for keeping the graduation year is about 10 to 15 years. Just like your work history, anything you learned 10 to 15 years ago will no longer be relevant to future jobs. You have grown so much since graduation and what you learned in school was just your starting point. You are now capable of so much more.
If you are not sure you like having the date on your resume, no matter when you graduated, it is best to remove it completely.
Why remove it completely from your resume
Age Discrimination is not just a privilege of those seeking work after age 40. It happens to newcomers, too, and that can be discouraging. Some who are new to their industry come out of colleges and universities with fascinating experience in traveling, internships, and advanced degrees.
They are then treated as, “too young” when the resume is already abundant, can be as equally painful for the experienced 40+ job candidate who is treated as “too old”.
The very appearance of a graduation year on a resume can, by itself, lead to a discriminatory way of thinking that counts against the job candidate at some point.
Do yourself and your resume a favor
There is no way to get around the discriminating thoughts of a person hiring. The best thing to do is keep the graduation year off the resume.
By the time you get to an interview, and they meet you in person, they will start to put the pieces together as to whether or not you will be a great fit. At least by that point, you are meeting people face to face.
If they discriminate based on age after meeting you, but they thought you were qualified enough to interview, that is a company you were never meant to work with.