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How To Format Dates On A Resume

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

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.

Learn how to format your resume when you’re not including detailed work experience beyond 10 years in the video below.

5. Why You Should Never Lie About Dates On Resume

Being honest about your job history and accomplishments (and even gaps) on your resume will go a long way to enhance your hiring chances.

Your employer may overlook smaller fabrications, but it will hurt your job satisfaction or, worse, your career in the long run.

Inappropriately filling employment gaps to meet job qualifications is a dangerous strategy. A certain red flag, hiring managers are trained to shake out dishonesty in your resume. Often, it’s a mere phone call away to your previous company.

Even one infraction may cost your job.

Further, with advancements in technology and many individual’s detailed social media presence on LinkedIn, it takes a couple of minutes for employers to examine your background information.

Employers will often use ATS to scan through resumes, perform online searches, and reference checks to ensure that the details are precise. Any variability will diminish your chances of winning the job.

If there are unusual circumstances in your career history, you should disclose them clearly in your cover letter, rather than on your resume.

And the career experts all agree, honestly is the best policy and may save your career.

6. The Dates On Resume And Combating Age Bias

Sadly, some companies still discriminate against age, preferring younger employees with less work experience but more perceived expertise with technology.

Keep in mind, age bias is illegal. At Resume Atelier, we feel age is a plus, not a minus. Nevertheless, it helps to be honest about your years of experience in your resume formatting. The right companies won’t view this as an obstacle.

Some career advisors will recommend you to exclude everything ten years back while others will advise you to include up to 20 years, as long as you stay relevant to the job you’re applying to.

It is recommended to incorporate dates for everything for ATS purposes. However, it still doesn’t make sense to highlight detailed accomplishments beyond ten years on your resume, no matter your age.

While your graduation date is considered up to personal preference, we view it as one of the more common mistakes from a consistency standpoint.

7. The Bottom Line

Oftentimes, avoiding common mistakes on your resume gives you an upper hand in securing a job interview and finally landing the job. Hiring managers want to learn as much about you in as little time as possible.

A successful job search starts with simple practices like knowing how to format dates on your resume. Now, you now know how to format dates on your resume like a pro.

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