Résumé Writing Roadblocks
Dating Your Experience And Education For Success
Job Seeker's Story
Jade had worked in Maintenance Management during her 33-year career. When Human Resources résumé reviewers first received her résumé they would initially think she had left dates off completely. However, after looking closely, they noticed that at the end of each of her paragraph-style job descriptions she had included entries such as “Employed 211 months.” It turned out that she had listed the number of months for which she held each position instead of including actual dates.
Harold had been working consistently for the last 21 years. However, he was re-entering a career field in which he had not worked in for 10 years. Because he was concerned that much of his relevant experience was dated he opted to leave dates off his résumé completely.
Shirley, currently a Director of Marketing, included her entire employment chronology, dating back to 1961 and including early internships and administrative positions. This length required that she have a three-page résumé with 13 positions listed and detailed.
Jade, Harold, and Shirley were all equally frustrated in their lack of responses to their résumé submissions and could not understand why.
Job Seeker's Stumble
The problem occurring for each of these three job seekers represents two extremes around the use of dates in the résumé. The bottom line is that leaving dates off immediately raises a red flag that Jade and Harold probably had something negative to hide, such as dated experience, big gaps between jobs representing possible problems in health or responsibility-level, or trying to hide their age. Alternatively, listing older dates (1960s, 1970s, and even early 1980s), as Shirley did, gives reviewers more information than they needed, and quite possibly worked against Shirley, based on assumptions that might have been made about her salary requirements or age.
Job Seeker's New Strategy
When you are writing a résumé you need to be sensitive to what dates can mean on your résumé. The rule of thumb for dates is:
- • Always include dates for the last 10–15 years of employment. If you want to or need to include earlier experience, you should include it in a section called “Additional Experience” or “Early Experience.” Do not include dates on these earlier roles.
- • Avoid Jade's mistake of trying to be clever with your dates. Reviewers will see through this and know you are trying to hide something. List years, or months and years, after the job title and company name for each position (again in the last 10–15 years).
- • Leave off early jobs altogether that do not position you for your job. It is not necessary to list every job you have ever held as Shirley did in her résumé. You will end up looking as if you have held too many jobs, wasting valuable space in your résumé, and having dates that may go back too far.
- • Consider leaving dates off of education/degrees except when required. Dates in the Education section either can show that your learning is too new and unused or too old and out-of-date.
Keep these rules in mind and you will not go wrong in dating yourself in your résumé.
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