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How to Arrange Dates on a Resume

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Resume trends come and go, but no matter how the document is formatted, it must contain certain information. Dates fall into the "must-have" category, because many of the skills employers seek in a high tech and ever changing workplace have an expiration date. The dates of your jobs, experiences and activities add perspective to your accomplishments, and they should be included in a way that makes sense to employers. Although there are several different ways to arrange resume dates to highlight the most relevant information, for most jobseekers chronological order is the most efficient and effective format.

Chronological Order

Resume space is valuable, but because 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, grouping information based on the value of the information rather than 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. Specific jobs might be listed in reverse-chronological order, but skills are listed based solely on value to the new employer.

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Be Consistent

While you are allowed some creative flexibility in how you format and arrange the dates on your resume, remain consistent in your choice. If you list employment dates for your most recent job in the right-margin, continue to use that format for all other jobs. Date formatting should also be clear and familiar to your audience. Avoid using lengthy numerals such as "06/12/2017," as it takes longer for the reader to understand, and may create confusion for international employers who use a different date structure. In general, it's best to include either the month and year, or just the year.

Scannable Considerations

Many employers use scanning software to quickly evaluate the many resumes they receive daily. Therefore, make your resume as scanner-friendly as possible. Avoid listing the dates for a summer job as "Summer 2016," but instead list the actual date range, or just 2016. Use your best judgment when deciding which entries need dates. Generally employers want to know when you graduated from college and when you worked for your last employer but aren't concerned about dates for specific job functions or accomplishments.

Overlapping Dates or Present

Sometimes people have multiple jobs that overlap. 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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