Those Difficult Dates
- The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service
Where should you place your
dates? It all depends on how much importance you want to
give them. If you have gaps in your employment history that
you would rather explain in an interview, then the dates
should be less obvious . You can even leave them off
altogether and list totals instead,
although your reader will automatically assume you have something
to hide. You need to make the decision whether leaving the dates
off will harm your chances of getting an interview more than putting
the dates on your resume.
Another reason to
de-emphasize dates is your age. If you would rather not give
your age away, then make the reader work to figure it out.
Tuck dates against the text with parentheses or bury
them somewhere else in the resume .
You can selectively choose to leave dates off your education and
show them only on your experience.
So, how far back should you go when listing your
experience? The answer is simple. When your past experience stops
being relevant to your job search, leave it off. The usual is 10
to 15 years in the past, unless there is something in your older
experience that is critical to your qualifications. This will help
to deflect interest from your age.
Accuracy and honesty are the most important considerations
when it comes to dates. Don't lie! I had a client who chose to fudge
on his dates and I didn't know about it. He was invited for an interview
and then lost the job when previous employers were contacted and
the dates didn't match. It wasn't worth it. Honesty is always the
There are many ways to make room for the dates.
One is to establish a clear column of dates to the right of a resume,
which keeps the text lines short and makes the dates easy to find.
You should not use this clear column of dates on the right if you
are creating a scannable resume since this style produces three
Putting dates on the left gives them a great
deal of importance. Since people read from left to right, information
on the left of the page is read first and carries greater weight.
Make sure you really want your dates to be that important before
placing them in the left-hand column.
You may use months with years or years only.
Some people feel more comfortable with a full accounting of their
time and prefer the month/year method. However, making room for
all those words becomes a problem if you choose to spell out the
month, as in January 1989 to February 1993. Abbreviations or numbers
for months make designing your resume a little easier:
Jan. 1989 Feb. 1993
Jan 1989 Feb 1993
Dot leaders (. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .) can help draw the eye to
the dates on paragraph-style resumes where it is difficult
to create a clear column for the dates .
However, dot leaders should not be used in a scannable resume.
There is no single, preferred method for the
positioning of dates on a resume. The key is to create a sense of
balance by placing the dates in a position that is complimentary
to the rest of your information, while keeping in mind how much
importance you wish to give them and the scannability of your resume.
From Designing the Perfect Resume, by Pat Criscito.
Copyright 2000. Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's
Educational Series, Inc.