LinkedIn: Protect Older Workers from Ageism—Make Dates Optional

LinkedIn: Protect Older Workers from Ageism—Make Dates Optional

March 1, 2021
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Signatures: 378Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Tyler F.

Ageism hurts older workers, the economy—all of us! A recent study, covered by The Wall Street Journal, found that implicit age bias against older people is pervasive.

LinkedIn: Protect older workers from ageism by enabling members to:

  1. Add experiences without dates 
  2. Order experiences as preferred

Members have two choices currently: (1) omit an experience and risk losing its benefits or (2) add it and possibly face ageism.

TELL LinkedIn to make this change so members can emphasize experiences and not be dismissed by recruiters—subconsciously or otherwise—because of age.

TELL LinkedIn to make this change so profiles can match résumés.

Will you join this petition and tell LinkedIn to protect older workers from ageism?

PLEASE sign, share, and help older workers get hired!


Ageism Articles: Prevalence / Effects / Need for Action

CNBC: Worried about a gap in your resume? This small tweak could result in more job callbacks by Jennifer Liu – Jan. 4, 2023

Previous research has shown that hiring managers discriminate against candidates who have a break in their resume. That puts some folks at a greater disadvantage, such as women who are more likely to leave the labor force to raise children.

But in a new study recently published in Nature Human Behavior, researchers found resumes that listed years of tenure at an employer, rather than the actual dates of employment, were more likely to get a callback for a job.

For example, instead of saying you worked for a company from January 2018 to January 2023, you would simply list your length of tenure as 5 years.

Listing tenure rather than specific dates increased the chances of a callback by 15% compared with a resume with an employment gap, and even by 8% compared with a resume without a gap.

Researchers were focused on seeing the impact for working mothers and tested resumes with no career break, resumes with an unexplained career break, and resumes with a break and brief explanation that they left the labor force to care for children. In each case, though, resumes with just length of experience listed received more invitations to interview than those with dates, with or without a gap.

When tested in other manners, the same pattern held true for both men and women, and for workers with many or with few years of total job experience.

Of course, hiring bias can still happen at further stages of the interview, they note, but "the powerful, lasting effects of first impressions and the necessity of passing the first gateway to get to the second gateway further underlines the importance of the current research."

INSIDER: Gen Z is rewriting the rulebook on 'résumé gaps' by Eve Upton-Clark – Jan. 3, 2023

Khyati Sundaram, the CEO of Applied, is leading a campaign that calls on employers to ask for CVs that limit career-gap bias by showing the candidate's tenure in each role, rather than specific dates.

She attributed the bias to "a very narrow view of talent that employers have built over the last 70 years." She added: "The needs of organizations are changing, society's changing, and the demands from the younger generations are changing."

By 2025, Gen Z workers will make up an estimated 27% of the workforce, and if employers want to tap into this talent pool, they'll need to pay attention to young workers' preferences. As Sundaram summed up, "We need to be more objective about what a person brings, rather than simply judging a candidate off a piece of paper."

NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR: Reducing discrimination against job seekers with and without employment gaps by Kristal, A.S., Nicks, L., Gloor, J.L. et al. – Dec. 5, 2022


Past research shows that decision-makers discriminate against applicants with career breaks. Career breaks are common due to caring responsibilities, especially for working mothers, thereby leaving job seekers with employment gaps on their résumés.

In a preregistered audit field experiment in the United Kingdom (n = 9,022), we show that rewriting a résumé so that previously held jobs are listed with the number of years worked (instead of employment dates) increases callbacks from real employers compared to résumés without employment gaps by approximately 8%, and with employment gaps by 15%.

A series of lab studies (an online pilot and two preregistered experiments; n = 2,650) shows that this effect holds for both female and male applicants—even when compared to applicants without employment gaps—as well as and for applicants with less and more total job experience.

The effect is driven by making the applicant’s job experience salient, not as a result of novelty or ease of reading.

NY TIMES: Exploring the Health Effects of Ageism by Paula Span – Apr. 23, 2022

A psychologist and epidemiologist, Dr. Levy has demonstrated — in more than 140 published articles over 30 years and in a new book, "Breaking the Age Code" — that ageism results in more than hurt feelings or even discriminatory behavior. It affects physical and cognitive health and well-being in measurable ways and can take years off one's life.

"Just as we have learned in recent decades that structures are biased against women and people of color, leading to worsened health outcomes, she has shown that negative feelings about old age lead to bad outcomes in older people,” said Dr. Louise Aronson, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of the best-selling book "Elderhood."

We absorb these stereotypes from an early age, through disparaging media portrayals and fairy tales about wicked old witches. But institutions — employers, health care organizations, housing policies — express a similar prejudice, enforcing what is called "structural ageism," Dr. Levy said. Reversing that will require sweeping changes — an "age liberation movement," she added.

FAST COMPANY: 4 ways to fight ageism in your job search by Jill D. Griffin – Apr. 8, 2022

In a recent report by Generation, the organization surveyed 3,800 employed and unemployed people, as well as 1,404 hiring managers across seven countries. Their findings reveal a consistent pattern of bias against workers aged 45 and older—across geographies.

So does this mean that anyone over the age of 45 doesn't stand a chance of advancing their careers or landing an opportunity? While DEI initiatives should address ageism in the workplace, there are a few ways experienced employees can take matters into their own hands.

LINKEDIN: Over 50 and seeking work? Read this by Ruiqi Chen – Feb. 26, 2022

While boomers may have felt the brunt of pandemic layoffs, there are a few tips that workers over 50 can follow to get back in the game. Older professionals who have re-entered the workforce or gotten new jobs late in their career say those in similar situations should confront ageism head-on, refresh their resumes to evade application screening bots, and position themselves as mentors. The underlying goal is to emphasize your skills and not your age, according to recruiters.

78% of workers between 40 and 65 said they'd seen or experienced ageism in the workplace in 2020, according to an AARP survey.

WSJ: The Secret to Getting a Better Job After 50 by Ray A. Smith – Feb. 22, 2022

Even in a hot hiring market, it is tough for workers over 50 to stay competitive in workplaces that often value youth over experience.

Professionals who have kept careers progressing well into their fourth and fifth working decades say they have developed a few strategies.

Rule No. 1, they say: Confront the reality of age discrimination head on instead of avoiding it. Some say they are doing so by appearing youthful—both in person, for hiring managers and colleagues, and in writing, to the bots that screen résumés.

Laid off in 2018 from a middle-management role in delivery and logistics at the company where he had worked for 17 years, 56-year-old Dale Johnston said he was prepared for the algorithms that would likely screen his résumé. Instead of "17 years," for instance, he wrote "over 10 years."

"I had to be very conscious about what I put in and time frames to get past the bots and AI," said Mr. Johnston, who lives in Bellingham, Wash. "I wasn’t lying. I just wasn't disclosing the full age."

LINKEDIN: IBM responds to ageism claims by Jake Perez – Feb. 14, 2022

IBM is responding after internal communications submitted as part of a court filing in an age discrimination case showed executives called older workers "dinobabies" who should be "extinct." The filing also contains other emails, including officials' complaints about IBM's "dated maternal workforce" and frustration that its share of millennials was lower than a competitor.

WSJ: What People Should Leave Off Their Résumés (but Rarely Do) by Lynda Spiegel – Sep. 24, 2021

Here are the kind of details that are almost always irrelevant on a résumé but that many people mistakenly believe are essential:

Employment history over 15 years in the past: Anything you did that long ago is likely done differently today, especially in technology fields. If you want employers to know that you worked for a prestigious company a long time ago, you can mention it in the summary section of the résumé or add a parenthetical "earlier employment at XXXX" at the end.

Graduation dates: Ageism is tough to avoid, so don't make it easier for employers to know how old you are until they have learned about your expertise.

LINKEDIN: Even in a Candidate's Market, Ageism Exists in the Hiring Process by Samantha McLaren – Aug. 23, 2021

From big tech to small biz, many employers are struggling to fill critical roles right now. The Great Resignation has created new talent shortages and exacerbated existing ones. And this has left many companies competing fiercely for the same limited pools of candidates. Despite this, some highly qualified job seekers are finding it more difficult than others to get hired because of one simple factor: their age.

According to a global study conducted by the career training nonprofit Generation between March and May 2021, 63% of unemployed people aged 45 or older have been out of work for longer than a year. That's compared with 52% of job seekers ages 35 to 44 and just 36% of those who are 18 to 34. And this is not a new trend: Generation found that, since 2015, individuals 45 and older have consistently made up 40% to 70% of the long-term unemployed.

UK GOV'T EQUALITIES OFFICE: Facilitating return to the labour market with a novel CV format intervention by The Behavioural Insights Team – June 2021

Executive Summary

We tested how UK employers react to employment gaps in CVs (also known as resumés) and whether the presentation of the gap affects employer responses.

We found that displaying experience in terms of the number of years rather than dates led to a 4.8 percentage point (14.6%) increase in the positive callback rate.

Further analysis suggested that the ‘no dates’ CV variant performed best for
high skill and full-time roles.

It made no difference to the callback rate whether the gap was explained for childcare or left unexplained.

The difference in callback rates for CVs with and without gaps was not significant.

Overall these results suggest that we may be able to redesign the traditional format of CVs to support returners to find employment.

AARP: As Economy Improves, Age Discrimination Continues to Hold Older Workers Back – May 2021

In 2020, 41% of older job seekers were asked—either on an application or in a job interview—to provide their birth date, graduation date(s), or other age-related information.

90% of older job seekers voluntarily submitted age-related information to prospective employers, including:

  • 81% Number of years spent on previous jobs
  • 66% High school or college graduation dates
  • 39% Age or date of birth

STANFORD: Workplace Equality for All! (Unless They're Old) by Martin J. Smith – Apr. 21, 2021

Despite recent advances in workplace diversity and inclusion, a new study finds that people who adamantly oppose racism and sexism are not so eager to eliminate ageism at work.

LINKEDIN: Industries where boomers face ageism by Laura Lorenzetti – Feb. 25, 2021

About 10% of baby boomers who are seeking work said that ageism — including being told "you're overqualified" or "you're too close to retirement" — is the leading obstacle in their job hunts, according to LinkedIn's latest Workforce Confidence Index.

BLOOMBERG: Jobs Recovery Is Leaving Older Workers Behind by Conor Sen – Feb. 9, 2021

A labor market recovery can't be inclusive if it doesn't include older workers. A failure to draw them back in will mean reduced potential for the economy and the possibility that inflation becomes a concern earlier than expected.

AARP: 7 Ways to Age-Proof Your LinkedIn Profile by Lisa Tynan – Feb. 2, 2021

Age discrimination in employment can happen many different ways. Sometimes it starts at the very beginning of the hiring process, when employers review information such as social media profiles to screen candidates.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process…

…you do want to showcase the industries you have worked with, the skills you've acquired, and the achievements you've earned over the years. Just do so without the dates.

WSJ: Worried About Ageism? Where You Live Matters by Clare Ansberry – Feb. 1, 2021

A recent study found that implicit bias—a subconscious negative attitude—against older people was most prevalent in the Northeast and Southeast. And age bias might affect how older people are treated in the pandemic.

FORBES: Ageism Is Forcing Older Workers Out Of The Job Market by Jack Kelly – Oct. 2, 2020

It's not surprising that workers 40 years or older face tough difficulties in the job market. They fall victim to the "juniorization of jobs," erosion of middle management, relocation of jobs to lower-cost locations and an unconscious bias in the hiring process.

AXIOS: The pandemic's toll on older workers by Erica Pandey – Aug. 18, 2020

Older workers who lose their jobs amid the pandemic-induced recession will also have a difficult time re-entering the workforce — and they may drop out entirely.

"The issue of ageism unfortunately is alive and well in the workplace," says Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP. "Being unemployed is tough to navigate at any age, but it is particularly difficult the older you get."

LADDERS: Yale researchers find ageism is literally hurting older people all over the world by Kyle Schnitzer – Feb. 3, 2020

"The injurious reach of ageism that our team documented demonstrates the need for initiatives to overcome ageism," said Yale Professor Becca Levy in a press release.

NY TIMES: An Open Letter (and a Rant) on Age Discrimination at Work by Megan Greenwell – Sep. 12, 2019

One writer, in his 50s, has applied to more than 100 jobs.

So what is an older person who still has bills to pay supposed to do? Even seemingly tiny changes can help. Ms. McCann's advice: Leave graduation dates and other giveaways off your résumé so you're not making it easy for employers to reject you. Some online hiring platforms won't allow you to move through the system without including those dates — which AARP has asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address — so avoid them whenever possible.

NY TIMES: New Evidence of Age Bias in Hiring, and a Push to Fight It by Patricia Cohen – Jun. 7, 2019

Across the United States, mammoth corporations and family businesses share a complaint: a shortage of workers. As the unemployment rate has tunneled its way to a half-century low, employers insist they must scramble to lure applicants.

The shadow of age bias in hiring, though, is long. Tens of thousands of workers say that even with the right qualifications for a job, they are repeatedly turned away because they are over 50, or even 40, and considered too old.

The problem is getting more scrutiny after revelations that hundreds of employers shut out middle-aged and older Americans in their recruiting on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms.

NY TIMES: Ageism: A 'Prevalent and Insidious' Health Threat by Paula Span – Apr. 26, 2019

It read: "When you want a whole cake to yourself because you’re turning 30, which is basically 50, which is basically dead."

After a bunch of us squawked about the ad on social media, the company apologized for what it called attempted humor and what I'd call ageism.

And such jabs constitute mere microaggressions compared to the forms ageism often takes: pervasive employment discrimination, biased health care, media caricatures or invisibility. When internalized by older adults themselves, ageist views can lead to poorer mental and physical health.

"It's an incredibly prevalent and insidious problem," said Alana Officer, who leads the World Health Organization's global campaign against ageism, which it defines as "stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination" based on age. "It affects not only individuals, but how we think about policies."

So this is no joke. Yet "there’s a lot of social acceptance of ageism," Dr. Levy noted, pointing to television, social media and everyday interactions. Although studies have found that children as young as three or four already hold ageist ideas, now "we have research showing that we can overcome it."

Will less ageist citizens support stronger enforcement of laws against workplace age discrimination?

CREATIVE KEYSTROKES: Omitting Dates on Your LinkedIn Employment History by Laurie Smith – Aug. 14, 2014

Until LinkedIn decides to wake up to the fact that there are mid- to late career executives who do not wish to use a forced chronological format and broadcast their age, users will have to work around their system. Whether subconscious or deliberate, there IS age discrimination out there, and it would be nice if LinkedIn would quit enabling it.

Photo: LinkedIn, Getty Images

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Decision Makers

  • LinkedIn
  • Heidi WangDirector of Product Management
  • Rick RamirezDirector of Engineering