If you haven’t looked at your resume in more than a year, there’s no time like the present to dust it off and update it so that you’re ready when the perfect job opportunity comes along.
Hiring managers may only spend 10 seconds looking at it, so you want to grab their attention immediately.
Should I write my resume in present or past tense?
The wrong way to get noticed is by having a resume full of spelling and grammatical errors, but there’s a common mistake that’s much easier to overlook: verb tense.
The general rule of thumb is to use present tense for current positions and past tense for previous positions.
Present tense = Present job
Past tense = Past job
For instance, you wouldn’t write in the present tense — “Manage a team of 15 retail associates” — for a job that you left five years ago because you’re no longer managing that team.
However, there are exceptions to this resume rule when it comes to your current job.
“If you are not currently doing a function anymore in your current job, but clearly used to do it at some point, using a past tense verb to describe something that is completed in your current job is acceptable. Mixing tenses in your current job is not problematic, since you are currently not doing everything at the same time.”
For example, you would write in the past tense — “Hired and trained summer interns” — for a responsibility at your current job that you no longer have and won’t do again.
On the other hand, present tense is the way to go for responsibilities that are still part of your current job.
Updating your resume? Do this first!
Bottom line: When you sit down to add a position to your resume, the first thing you should do is check the verb tenses and put past positions in the past tense!