How To Format Dates On A Resume

Updated: Jul 21

Want to know how to format dates on your resume?

This post will explain how you can appropriately include dates on a resume for both applicant tracking system (ATS) and hiring manager delight.

Key Concepts Covered

  1. How to align dates on a resume

  2. How to format dates on a resume

  3. Where to put dates on a resume

  4. How far back in time should your dates go?

  5. Why you should never lie about dates on your resume

  6. The dates on a resume and how to combat age bias

  7. The Bottom Line

1. How To Align Dates On A Resume?

This is a question many job seekers ask when preparing their resumes for applications. For the purposes of this article, we will assume you’re using a chronological resume, rather than a functional resume.

You have been there, and many others have been there too – trying to format and align dates on your ATS resume so that it looks clean to the eye.

Fortunately, there is an easier way to align dates on your resume than playing with the space bar. Let’s welcome the tab stop.

The tab stop is a helpful function in Word that allows you to set a sticky alignment after hitting the tab key on your computer. This way you can cleanly separate dates from your work history for a better overall resume format.

While you can do a lot with the tab spot, the most important use is right-aligning your resume dates.

Right aligning dates on your resume is common practice, and for good reason. For instance, placing dates on the left infers that you are putting too much emphasis on the time and not where you worked or the job position you held at the time.

Hiring managers want to skim your years of experience.

Check out the video below to learn how to use tab stops for simple date alignment.

2. How To Format Dates On Resume?

Your resume should list your work experience succinctly and clearly for the reader. Employers have many resumes to go through in a short time, and you don’t want them to stumble as they read your resume.

That said, write the dates in full ranges, for example, March 2019 to November 2020. Most job seekers leave out months in their resume format, which is a bad idea during your job search.

You need to make sure that your resume dates include months to make them as straightforward as possible both for the hiring manager and applicant tracking systems (the computer software reading your resume).

Additionally, you’d want to add your graduation year or the dates when you got any certifications.

Finally, don’t use numbers to represent months. For example, don’t use “3” to represent March or “12” to represent December. While using this technique isn’t incorrect, it just gives the ATS and recruiters a hard time processing the dates.

Remember, recruiters go through many resumes, and the chances are that they are already fatigued.

Check out the video below to learn how to format dates with a live resume example.

3. Where To Put Dates On Resume?

It is recommended that you right justify resume dates in line with job titles.

As we stated earlier, aligning your resume dates on the left puts a lot of emphasis on the dates rather than the work experience and organizations you worked for, which can be a little confusing to most hiring managers.

In other words, employment dates are secondary details after your company and title.

4. How Far Back Should Your Resume Go?

How far back in time to go with your dates on a resume format depends on many factors. For example, you need to consider the required qualifications, your industry, and years of work experience. Each of these factors will determine how far back in time you can go with dates on your resume.

You should include a position that gave you valuable experience and skills even if it dates back ten years ago. If you have shifted to different careers, you may want to include only jobs you did in the past five years.

Most experts (including us) insist that including 10-15 years of work experience on your resume is the ideal range. For example, suppose you are a 40-year-old procurement manager.

In that case, 10 years of work history will include the time it took you to earn your degree – 2 years working as an intern, 3 years as a junior employee, and one year in your current role.