My executive clients often ask me how far back they should take their LinkedIn employment histories, and then if it is possible to omit dates of employment from some or all of the entries. The concern expressed is generally potential age discrimination.
Most recruiters browsing LinkedIn are only going to be interested in the last 10-15 years of your career. (Incidentally, this goes for both your LinkedIn profile and your executive resume). So whether you include experiences beyond the last 15 years is entirely up to you.
Regarding omitting employment dates from the profile, unfortunately as of the last time I checked, the date fields on LinkedIn experience entries are still mandatory.
A semi-decent workaround for mandatory date entry is to enter only the experiences for which you don’t care about revealing the dates as you normally would. For instance, you could opt to list only your last 3 to 5 positions spanning up to the last 15-20 years that are applicable to what you do today.
If there is more experience you would like to cover in the profile but for which you do not want to reveal the dates, you can enter all of it in a single final entry in resume-like format. The experiences would appear one after the other in the body of the entry, with just the dates for the one at the top (or a random set of recent dates immediately prior to your last detailed entry) showing in the mandatory date fields.
This is not ideal, but really about the only way to do it within the data entry constraints LinkedIn currently imposes. It has been said that some recruiters may not look at a profile from which some dates are omitted. However, if you have detailed dates for the last 15 years of your experience, these folks should be few and far between.
Probably the best alternative is to just stop your work history entries on LinkedIn at the point in time you deem appropriate. There is certainly no requirement for your LinkedIn profile to be exhaustive in listing your work history. Your resume does not have to do that, and neither does your LinkedIn profile.
Be aware that you can go too far with omitting dates or truncating your experience, however. Some resume screening (ATS) systems (and it can be assumed, LinkedIn’s search algorithm) will calculate the number of years’ experience a person has and eliminate resumes or profiles when they are not sufficient for a job requirement or recruiter’s search parameter. For instance, many specify at least 10 or 15 years of experience, so if you list fewer than 15 years of employment with dates, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Currently this means taking your career history back to the year 2000.
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.