How To Make Dates On A Resume Work For You

August 7, 2014

July 31, 2014 by Don Goodman


How hard can it be to list dates with your work experience on your resume? Depending on how you format your dates of employment, it can mean the difference between appearing like a candidate who can perform with a consistent work history, and a candidate that is a risk due to a history of frequent job change or too many gaps in employment.


Follow these tips as you prepare and review your resume:



Regardless of the format you choose to list your dates of employment, remain consistent. If you switch between listing the month and the year and then only listing the year for another period of employment, it will stand out and bring question to whether there’s something you’re trying to hide.


Year Only

Most hiring managers prefer having the details – the month and year – but if you choose to only list the year, you can probably still get by. Just be prepared to address the question of how long you were employed with the employer. If you were employed nine months and you indicated 2012-2013, it’s not that big of a deal and it can actually play in your favor to show a lengthier work history. If employment was only for one month, you have to ask should you even include the experience. The hiring manager will likely be ticked that you tried to make it come off like a year.


Historical Dates

Listing dates that go way back in time can go against you. Most employers only find the last 10-15 years of employment of interest. Going back further than that dates you. Remember, it’s also unnecessary to list the year you graduated next to your degree. Don’t give off your age even if there is no concern for age discrimination.


Applicant Tracking Systems

More resumes are being filtered through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) today. If you want your work history progression to be read properly, include dates next to every job title, including the ones resulting from a promotion from the same employer. The dates help the ATS detect job titles, so you also want to avoid including dates with your description of achievements.

Other things to keep in mind is the ATS doesn’t know to associate seasons as a period of work, like Summer 2013. It does recognize words like “Current” and “Present” to stand as employment you currently hold though.

As simple as it may seem to include dates associated with employment, it’s also important to understand how you can use it to play in your favor as well as how technology like the ATS reads it on resumes.



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