How to Arrange Dates on a Resume

by Sara Mahuron

Include dates on your resume for all of your jobs, experiences and activities. Even though you might never forget how to ride your bike, many of the skills employers seek in a high tech and ever changing workplace have an expiration date, so the dates you provide on your resume add perspective. Arrange the dates for your work in experience in a way that makes sense to both you and the employer.

Chronological Order

Resume space is valuable but the document's prime real estate is the top of the page. The most important information should come first. For many job seekers, it makes sense to list information in reverse-chronological order based on dates, placing the newest information first and the oldest last. Employers value recent skills and employees seeking to advance their careers are looking for a job that builds upon their progressive experience.

Functional Order

In some cases, it may make sense to list information in a functional manner. This means that you group information based on the value of the information and not its recency. In this case, the dates do not determine the order. It is also possible to use a combination of reverse-chronological and functional order. Jobs might be listed based on the dates in reverse-chronological order, but skills may be listed based solely on value to the new employer.

Be Consistent

While you are allowed some creative flexibility in how you format or arrange the dates on your resume, the important thing is that you are consistent. If you decide to list dates for your jobs at the right-margin for the most recent job, you must continue to use this format for all the other jobs. Dates should also be clear and familiar to your audience. Avoid being overly brief or abbreviated. Avoid using lengthy numerals such as "06/12/2012," as it takes longer for the reader to compute, and not all countries use the same numerical order for dates so this could create problems for an international reader. Include the month and year for the date, or just the year.

Scannable Considerations

Many employers use scanning software to sift through the massive pile of resumes they receive daily. While software programs are continually being improved, make your resume as scanner-friendly as possible. Avoid listing the dates for a summer job as "Summer 2012," instead list the actual date range or just 2012. Use judgment when deciding what to provide dates for. Employers want to know when you graduated from college and when you worked for your last employer; however, they do not need the date range for specific job functions or accomplishments.

Overlapping Dates or Present

Sometimes people have multiple jobs and these overlap on the resume. This can be an issue on a reverse-chronological order resume. All the jobs you currently have should be listed together, even if you started one of them a long time ago. Of these, the one you began most recently should be listed first. If you still work at a job, write "Present" for the end date.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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