When do I use past tense in my resume? When should I use present tense?
For the non-English majors, most of the time, past tense is when you add the “ed” to a verb. Resumes are filled with action verbs but the past tense would be words like these:
- Except for some tricky ones like “wrote”
Present tense is the verb by itself without any “ed”s added. Like this:
Clients come to me perplexed because “someone” told them they are doing it wrong even when I wrote the resume for them. Here’s my rule: In a past position, the action verb is always in the past tense. You are not in the job anymore, it is in your past.
What about my current job? What tense do I use?
However, in your present job or position, you may have a mix of past and present tense verbs. Huh? You’re thinking, that’s impossible!
Here are my thoughts: in your present job, there are some things you have completed and will never do again. If you researched and wrote the new sales training manual, it is done, hence the past tense verbs: researched and wrote. If you facilitated the merger of two organizations or companies, it is done. This leads us to the next question.
Am I still doing the task or action?
In your present position, you may still enhance and solidify client relationships or analyze client expenditures and create realistic budgets. You may also consistently evaluate productivity.
I know resume writers can differ and some put everything in the past tense but in my view, if you are still doing it, it belongs in present tense. In your past jobs, you need to make sure everything is past tense. When you update your resume and add a new position, be sure to check your tenses. Once you add the new one, all of the tenses need to be changed to past.
This way when you are ready to move on, your resume will be too. If all of this sounds complicated and you have no idea how to get the writing right much less capture your best accomplishments and showcase your value, then perhaps you need to hire me, a professional resume writer, whose clients get interviews and land their dream jobs.