Dates On Your Resume...What To Do?

Posted: 10/16/2013

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

How do I handle dates on my resume? This is a question I get asked a lot. Do you put them in, leave them out, smash jobs together, etc.? Here's my opinion:

If you have a chronological resume (which I recommendover a functional resume in almost all cases), then you absolutely should include your dates of employment. I recommend including the month and year for starting and ending each job. If you have a 20-year work history, it isn't necessary to go all the way back, especially if you've had a number of jobs over the years. Going back 10 to 15 years is fine. Make sure that the dates are correct! Many employers will check references and confirm dates of employment and you don't want to look dishonest, even if it wasn't intentional.

If you worked a bunch of short contract positions in between longer jobs and don't want to look like a job-hopper, here's a suggestion: create a "job" called Independent Consulting. Have the very first contract as your starting date and the date you ended the last contract as your ending date. Then, have a bullet point for each contract you worked during that time period and detail your experience. These types of situations are very common for IT folks, especially during downturns.

If you had a job for a short period of time and left, you really should include it. If you leave a gap between longer jobs, the interviewer may ask what you were doing during the gap at which point you may mention the job you left out. The interviewer will then wonder what else you are leaving out. I have also seen people leave out a short job, then adjust the start or end dates of the jobs around that missing job to avoid having a gap. You may get away with it, but there is a good chance, if it was relatively recent, that you will get caught. Again, this will indicate a lack of honesty to your future employer. You can take that chance if you like, but I would recommend against it.

If you have worked a series of shorter jobs and had them end for reasons like layoffs, corporate bankruptcies, outsourcing, etc., it is perfectly acceptable to include the reason your job ended on your resume. I see this fairly frequently and it does not dissuade me from interviewing the candidate at all.

Another related question is whether to include the date you got your degree(s), if you have one. I would recommend against including this. The date at which you got your Bachelor's, for example, is far less
important than simply having one and by leaving this date off, you are eliminating some of the chance for age discrimination.