In my recent Memphis Daily News article, “The Grey Ceiling: Beating Ageism,” I wrote about how to avoid being discriminated against during your job search. This is a very important topic for many who find themselves searching for work as they age.
A reader wrote in with one of her concerns. Below, I will share my answer to her question, and additional suggestions.
If you ever have a question that I can help you to address about your job search, or an article topic that you’d like me to cover, please contact me here. I’d love to help!
What should one do about the graduation years on Linked In? I completely understand your advice about working to look as youthful and technologically savvy as possible. And since employers are forbidden to actually ask your age, your advice to control signals so that the interviewer does not guess your age sounds good at first blush. But what about LinkedIn? Birth years on Facebook can be concealed, but if you try to obscure graduation dates on Facebook or LinkedIn, then your actual classmates are confused. Also, if you don’t put graduation dates on LinkedIn, you look as if you are hiding. Suggestions? I know that you are technologically sophisticated, so maybe you have suggestions.
Thanks for your consideration,
Dear Memphis Mary,
Thanks for your e-mail! It’s great to hear from you! I appreciate you taking the time to send me your question.
If you’re concerned about your age impacting your job search, my recommendation is to remove it from all social media, including LinkedIn and Facebook. This means that you should consider leaving off your birth year on your birthday, and your graduation year on your education.
I can understand your concern about confusing others, but after changing my own profiles a few years ago, I found that nobody noticed the difference. By now, I’m fairly well connected to my school contacts on LinkedIn and Facebook, so it’s unlikely I will miss a new connection due to not having the year included.
In addition, many people remove their graduation years from LinkedIn, so I don’t believe an employer would assume you were hiding something. Try looking up a few of the top executives at your current or past jobs, and you may find that at least 50% of the time, they’ve omitted their years as well.
You might try removing the years for a month and see if anyone asks you about it. My guess is that nobody will notice, and future employers will no longer have access to the information.
My thought is that as long as you focus on keeping your birth year off the major sites (like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), you will be covered.
* Note: The reader’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.