Dear Sam: I just hit a milestone birthday, and unfortunately, I am also facing the need to conduct a job search after 11 years with my current employer. Following COVID, the company has continued to downsize, and the wave just hit me. As a 50-year-old, I am concerned about aging myself when preparing my resume. I deleted the dates from my college degrees and my earliest job experience; however, I still show about 15 years of employment experience, including my current company and one previous employer. I don’t want only to include my current employer as that doesn’t allow me to show my full breadth of qualifications. Should I omit more dates, or is there another way to omit information without raising the suspicion of gaps in employment? – Cindy

Dear Cindy: Omitting dates of employment from all positions—and please note I am stressing ALL, not SOME—will raise red flags and likely prevent you from getting an interview every time. An omission of all dates will not raise questions about job gaps but will make the hiring manager wonder how much experience you have and whether you have been working recently. You have taken the correct approach in omitting your graduation year and excluding earlier experience.

When crafting a competitive picture on a resume, I typically start thinking about whether an experience adds value to someone’s candidacy when I see dates back in the 1990s—which would mean you are presenting at least 22 years of experience. Most hiring managers expect to see 10-15 years of experience on a resume. Having said that, there are plenty of times I write resumes with far more experience than that. How much experience you present depends on what will paint a competitive picture for your target positions. Hence, knowing your career target is essential before you craft your brand and content strategy. You have to have a compelling reason to present an experience that unnecessarily “ages” your candidacy; otherwise, it could do more harm than good.

Many candidates immediately look to age discrimination as the reason they are not invited for an interview, which can sometimes be the case. In addition, however, I would argue that you may not be seen as the best fit if you do not present a competitive picture of your candidacy. This could be due to assumptions of compensation requirements, desired work-life balance, what would engage you in a challenging position, and many more elements you may not be considering.

As long as your content is in line with today’s industry jargon, you are infusing your resume with keywords based on your target positions and their alignment with your experience qualifications, and you are not opening your resume with a statement like, “30 years of experience,” you should be seen as a competitive candidate.