The 3 Dangers of Showcasing the Length of Your Experience in Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile

As a Master Resume Writer, I review candidate resumes every week, and most of those that have been written by the candidates themselves all suffer from one simple but deadly error: advertising their length of experience in their resume’s or LinkedIn profile’s summary.

This is a deadly error because it shuts down your job search faster than almost any other error I am aware of. Why? Because when you include a statement in the summary of your resume or LinkedIn profile that highlights the total volume of experience you possess, you are embracing three threats.

Selling Your Age Rather Than Your Why-Buy-ROIS

What’s the most powerful thing about your candidacy that you should showcase in your summary? Surely it’s your history of impacts on the companies for which you’ve worked to date. But as soon as you place your total number of years worked at the top of your resume, you’ve elected to sell yourself based on that instead. And that is quite problematic.

Do you really believe that the best thing about your candidacy is your total volume of experience? Not your skills or credentials, leadership style, or history of achievements? No, I thought not.

When job seekers place such a number in their summary, they’re acting as if they believe that possessing more experience makes them a better candidate for the jobs they’re planning to pursue. Well, you may believe that, but the folks who are doing the hiring don’t. They don’t buy the argument that more experience automatically equates to more on-the-job success. They instead believe that you must have the right amount of experience – let’s call it Goldilocks experience – that is neither too much or too little for the job in question.

And that Goldilocks amount is different for every job in every company and every hiring manager in every organization. In fact, that’s who decides how much experience an internal or external recruiter should look for in prospective candidates – the hiring manager of the job in question.

I would argue that you should certainly pay attention to how much experience an employer is requesting for any open position, but not so that you can include that number in your summary since doing so invariably sells your candidacy short.

Promoting Your Age

Highlighting your total amount of work or industry experience can in many cases inadvertently draw attention to your age. If you possess 20 years of experience, for example, this number can easily be added to 18 or 22 to guestimate age of 38 or 42 or more. Here again, is this what you want recruiters and hiring executives to focus most on when they consider your candidacy? Do you want them to consider hiring you based on your age or your history of achievements to date? Probably the latter.

And if that’s the case, then why place a spotlight on your total experience? Unless this is the factor which, above all else, qualifies you for the role in question, it isn’t likely to help much at all, and it can cause your candidacy enormous problems, as you will see in the next section.

Causing Your Resume or LinkedIn Profile to Be Overlooked by Applicant Tracking Systems

What most job hunters don’t know is that when recruiters prepare to source candidates for a new role, they typically consult with the hiring manager of the position and ask him or her what qualities and experience they are looking for. In addition, these hiring managers are often asked how much experience they think the new hire should have. When that recruiter authors the job posting, they insert the hiring manager’s preferred amount of experience as either a requested or required factor for the role.

Next, the recruiter uploads the position posting to job boards, company websites, and possibly LinkedIn and begins to actively source candidates for the role. When the recruiter conducts a search for candidates in the databases of these different tools, she or he will often include this amount of experience as a factor in their search. When the Applicant Tracking System in question analyzes candidates for the search, it will use this amount of experience to determine whether a candidate’s resume or LinkedIn profile should be retained for later examination by the recruiter.

Let’s say that a company is hiring a Director of Purchasing and that the hiring manager wants the new hire to possess 10-12 years of experience. The recruiter will craft a job posting that seeks candidates with that amount of experience and will create search strings on databases seeking candidates with that same amount of experience. If you’re a Director of Purchasing trying to win an interview for that role and your resume states that you have “more than 15 years of experience” in your summary, the Applicant Tracking System, job board, company/recruiter website, or LinkedIn database will, among other things, examine candidates to determine whether they possess 10, 11, or 12 years of experience. Since you said you possess more than that amount, your resume will be tossed out of to-be-recommended pile that a recruiter will subsequently review. In essence, your resume was eliminated from consideration on a technicality and will not be examined by a recruiter unless you leverage a different job search strategy to ensure that happens.

A simple phrase in your resume or LinkedIn summary can thus make a world of difference in your job search. Do yourself a favor, and delete this phrase if it’s currently in either of yours. You possess much stronger qualifications than the length of your experience, so why not showcase those instead?

Not sure how much experience you should claim? Not sure how to recast your resume to call attention to you Why-Buy-ROI? Not sure what a Why-Buy-ROI is for that matter. Call me, I can help.

About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.