How to list your dates on resumes is a source of questions from job seekers. A conversation on Twitter with Lisa McCallister, @MyJobScope sparked different opinions about dates. Lisa asked Kris Plantrich, from Resume Wonders, and me if we had a best practice for listing dates on resumes.
Lisa’s Twitter bio: Chief Enthusiast at MyJobScope|Medical Device Sales|Marketing|Recruiter| Sharing info on career planning, success & the medical device world.
Lisa has the recruiter perspective, sometimes different from both resume writers and hiring managers. Recruiters screen for specifics on resumes and can want preferred style for resumes.
I told Lisa I lean toward only years on resumes rather than months and years. Kris answered with a similar response:
Kris’ Twitter bio: Certified Career Coach / Resume Writer. Christian, Mom, Wife, Biz Owner, Blogger. Passionate Helper of Job Seekers. Individual and Corporate Outplacement Svc.
Resume Writer Rationale
A difficult dilemma, Kris and I are taught to list “only years” by leaders in the resume writing industry. Seminars and conferences I attended from industry icons such as Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, Resume Writing Academy, generally use the year-to-year (1995—2009) format.
As a resume writer, my goal is to present your information in a compelling yet concise format. If I list months, I prefer to write out the whole month: May 1997—July 2009, more attractive format than 5/97—7/09. May to July works well but if the months read: September 1999—December 2007, dates take up too much precious resume real estate.
I could possibly squeeze May to July in there but if I tried September to December, the dates would run right into the company details. For me, a number only format (12/97—10/08 or 12/1997—10/2008) is hard to read and detracts from the resume.
I advise my clients to keep a complete copy of the months and dates of employment in an electronic or paper file to refer to when completing applications.
Lisa responded she prefers candidates list months to allow her to see if there are gaps. Not seeing the full month-year format made her wonder if the candidate was hiding anything. This was a prime reason for month-year formats previously but in the present economy, is it a fair to the qualified job seeker?
The Economy Effect
The medical device industry, (Lisa’s area for recruiting) similar to many other industries, fought hard battles in the last three years — mergers and acquisitions, downsizing and restructuring.
Some account managers maintained consistent employment with no layoffs, but many top sales representatives had to transition to a new position with a new company. In this economy, transition is not always immediate.
If a top-selling, profit-building sales executive has their position eliminated in a merger because of territory overlap or other corporate decision-making, are they any less of a high-quality candidate with a gap of 5 months on their resume? Is the candidate hiding anything?
I say, no! The candidate with a gap is just as viable of a candidate as one with successful transition from one company to another. In a booming economy, medical device recruiters like Lisa or pharmaceutical sales recruiters may snatch up the winning sales representative just because of their ability to sell but there are not as many openings today:
- Revitalized Claritin D market share to all time high of 48%, ranking in top 10 territories nationwide.
My clients fall into both categories. Some, Candidate A above, were blessed with companies who pressed through the frightening marketplace and retained their employees. Today, Candidate A is in a position to start looking for new opportunities.
- Increased sales incentives by 47% from first quarter 2008 to third quarter, an increase of $1,867 through focusing calls on Tier 1 to 3 physicians only.
But Candidate B did end up with a gap – her position ended, but she was rehired with a new company in 3 weeks.
Gaps on resumes may not mean the job seeker (or candidate) doesn’t have qualities the employer needs on his team. I realize recruiters are flooded with resumes and need ways to sift through the pile. I still believe use of accomplishment-driven strategies in your resume, clearly defining your value, creates a win-win situation for everyone (companies and candidates). Dates are only one small part of the picture.
What do you think?
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