How to (Painlessly) Format Dates on Your Resume

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December 15, 2023
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19
min read

3 key takeaways

  • Why you should include dates in all relevant sections of your resume
  • How to format the dates on your resume
  • How to use Teal’s AI Resume Builder to ensure consistency and clarity

Can you imagine reading a history book without any dates? You’d have no context about whether the moon landing happened before or after the Second World War. 

The same is true for your resume. The dates on a resume help employers better understand your career journey and how your work history has contributed to your current qualifications. 

Put simply, recruiters want to know what happened and when. But it can be tough to figure out the right resume date format to give employers those important details. This guide is here to help with all of the information (and examples) you need to ace your job search. 

Why date formatting matters on your resume

Your resume dates might feel like an inconsequential detail when applying for a job , but your date formatting carries a surprising amount of weight. When the formatting is clear and consistent, you can:

  • Provide clarity and prevent confusion: When the date format on your resume is clear and concise, hiring managers can quickly understand the order of your experiences, what happened when, and how things overlap or line up—without having to approach you with questions.
  • Appear polished and professional: Disorganized dates make you look sloppy. Taking the time to refine your formatting and ensure consistency shows that you gave your resume the energy and attention it deserved, rather than throwing something together. 
  • Make easier updates: Simple date formatting makes it easy to revisit your document and change the end date when you wrap up a job or experience. You don’t have to search for information or find the right way to present it. All it takes is a simple update to start and end dates.

The date format in your resume isn’t an insignificant afterthought—both content and design play an important role. That doesn’t have to mean a ton of extra hassle for you, though. The formatting features in Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help make consistency and clarity a breeze. 

4 different date formats for your resume

Now for the most important part: figuring out how to write dates on a resume. There are a few different ways you can approach this. Let’s take a look at the details of each. 

1. Numeric Date Range

Example: 11/2021 - 12/2023

When it comes to your resume, the month-year format is the most common. In most cases, employers usually don’t need the specific start day for a job or other achievement, so using the numeric date range of month and year is more than sufficient. 

You have a few options for how to display this information (either as digits, written out, or abbreviations). One of those options isn’t inherently better than the other. The most important thing is to choose one approach and then stick with it through your entire document.

Pros: 

  • It’s more compact than spelling out months, which saves space on your document. 

Cons: 

  • If you have a lot of different jobs and experiences, too many digits can be visually messy or overwhelming.
  • Different countries have different norms for listing months and years, which can cause confusion if you’re applying for global jobs.

2. Written Date Range

Example: November 2021 - December 2023

This format gives the same information as the format above, with one notable difference: you spell out the month rather than using numbers. Another variation of this approach abbreviates the names of the months (e.g., “Nov 2021 - Dec 2023”). 

You can go either route. But again, the most important thing is consistency. 

Pros:

  • This format can make your document appear more formal compared to using digits.
  • Spelling or abbreviating the months eliminates any potential confusion that could arise from date-ordering norms. 

Cons: 

  • Whether you go with abbreviations or the complete spelling, this information will take up more space on your document. 

3. Numeric Full Date Range

Example: 11/08/2021 - 12/31/2023

This format goes beyond just the month and year and includes the specific day that an experience began and ended. You could use the other approaches in combination with this one—like spelling or abbreviating the months rather than using numbers.

Typically, recruiters don’t need specific days. However, there might be certain circumstances when that level of detail is helpful, such as:

  • Indicating the exact day your current job will wrap up (although availability and start date conversations are usually better suited for job interviews)
  • Listing the exact day an important industry certification or qualification will begin or expire
  • Highlighting the exact day of an impressive award or other achievement

If none of the above applies, then you can usually opt for simply including the month and year. 

Pros:

  • It provides additional clarity and detail for qualifications or experiences that hinge on a specific date. 

Cons: 

  • This format takes up the most space on your document and can make your resume look crowded.
  • It’s more detail than the hiring manager likely needs.
  • Again, different countries have different norms about whether the day goes after the month or vice versa. 

4. Year Only Range

Example: 2012 - 2014

In general, your resume should only include professional experiences from the past 10 to 15 years. Going back much further than that often means including unnecessary, irrelevant, and outdated information.

However, if there’s something from way back in your history that you feel you have to include (such as when you achieved a professional credential or received an award), then skipping the month and providing the year is more than enough detail. 

Pros:

  • This format saves space on your document.
  • It’s adequate detail for relevant experiences that happened more than a decade ago. 

Cons:

  • It’s not quite enough detail for current experiences—those should also include the month. 

When it comes to choosing the best resume date format, the default is to include the month and the year (in whatever style feels right on your resume).

It’s easy to preview all of your options with Teal’s AI Resume Builder. Within the “Design” menu, use the dropdown to select the visual style of your dates. Your resume dates will automatically update on your document so you can see what style looks best with your content. 

A way to format dates on a resume
Customize your resume date format with Teal.

For more on resume formats, check out our guide on the best resume format to have

How to list dates for ongoing and overlapping jobs

Some experiences are easy to assign dates to, but others—like overlapping or ongoing jobs—can be a little trickier. Here’s how to handle each of those scenarios. 

Listing overlapping jobs

Knowing how to list overlapping jobs on your resume might seem like a puzzle, but it’s surprisingly straightforward. 

If you’re using a chronological resume format (which is the most common approach), then all of your jobs should be listed in reverse chronological order. Your most recent job will appear at the top and then move back through your history as you move down the document. 

When you’ve held two different jobs at the same time, then they should still go in reverse chronological order, but with the one you started most recently at the top. Here’s what that might look like: 

Maple Tech | Milwaukee, WI

Customer Support Specialist | Apr 2022 - Present 

  • Achievement
  • Achievement
  • Achievement

Paddy’s Pub | Milwaukee, WI

Event Planner | November 2021 - October 2023

  • Achievement
  • Achievement
  • Achievement

Listing ongoing jobs 

For positions that you currently hold, you don’t list an end date. Instead, you’ll list your resume dates to present. That means that you put your start date (month and year) like you normally would and then simply write “present” as the end date. Here’s an example:

Pye, Inc. | Milwaukee, WI

Customer Success Manager | September 2022 - Present 

  • Achievement
  • Achievement
  • Achievement

This is quick and easy to do with Teal’s AI Resume Builder. As you add or edit each work experience, just check the box for “I am currently in this position,” and Teal will automatically list “present” on your document rather than an end date. 

How to format dates on a resume for current roles
List ongoing jobs in one click with Teal.

And if you’re starting a new job soon, you can put that information on your resume too. Learn how to write an incoming job on your resume

Aligning dates on your resume

One of the most frustrating parts of putting the dates on your resume isn’t actually figuring out the months and years—it’s aligning and formatting them correctly. That process usually involves watching in horror as all of your content bounces around and transforms into a jumbled mess. 

Take a deep breath. Here’s how to align dates on a resume (without all of the frantic clicking and cursing). 

How to right align dates on a resume using…

Microsoft Word

If your date appears on its own line on your document, highlight the dates and then press the “right align” button in the upper menu.

But if your date appears on a line with other information, the above step will align the entire line to the right. In those cases, use the spacebar to separate your date information from your other content and push it over to the right of your document. 

Google Docs

Google Docs functions almost identically to Microsoft Word in this regard. Either highlight the text and select “right align” from the menu bar or use the spacebar to push your dates over toward the right margin. 

You might need to do some adjusting to make sure your dates are all even down the right side of the document. 

Teal

The above tips will eventually get the job done, but they can still be a pain. With Teal’s AI Resume Builder, you don’t have to endure any clunky manual adjustments of your margins, spacing, or any other formatting elements.

4 common mistakes to avoid when formatting dates on your resume 

You have the lowdown on how to list dates on a resume. That’s enough to get you started. But as you work on and refine your document, keep an eye out for these common mistakes that can easily creep in.

1. Guessing or lying about dates

Digging through old emails or documents to find the right dates can be a hassle. However, it’s important to take the time to do so, rather than taking your best guess or flat-out lying about a date.

Remember that employers can easily check and verify the information on your resume. The last thing you want is to appear untrustworthy or dishonest simply because you were too rushed to double-check a date. 

2. Mixing up formatting

This is worth one more mention: consistency is key. When you choose the date format, stick with it throughout your entire document. That prevents confusion and also makes your document look neat and polished. 

3. Forgetting to make updates

Did a job or other professional experience come to a close? You need to add the end date. Is one of your roles or experiences now outdated? It’s a good idea to remove it from your resume. 

While your resume dates might seem like they should stay stagnant, that’s not always the case. If it’s been a while since you’ve knocked the dust off your resume, now’s a good time to comb through it to make any necessary date updates before you send it off. 

4. Neglecting to switch verb tense

Here’s one more small change that’s easy to overlook: If you update the end date of a position from “present” to an actual date, then you also need to change the verb tense for your bullet points. 

Only current jobs should use the present tense (like “manage” and “oversee”). That means, when you end a position, you can’t just change the date. You need to go through your bullets and swap them to the past tense as well (“managed” and “oversaw”). 

While you’re at it with these updates, ensure your resume is perfect by knowing how to write availability on your resume

Dates, digits, and details: You’re on your way to flawless formatting

The dates on your resume might seem like a trivial detail, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. These little nuggets of information help potential employers understand your career story and how all of your roles, achievements, and experiences fit together. 

That means your resume dates deserve just as much time and attention as any other aspect of your document. Use this article as your guide and Teal’s AI Resume Builder as your companion to help you design, format, and customize your resume in a way that’s professional, polished, and painless. 

Ready to create your best resume (without any headaches and hassles)? Get started with Teal for free today

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Kat Boogaard

Kat is a freelance writer focused on the world of work. When she's not at her computer, you'll find her with her family—which includes two adorable sons and two rebellious rescue mutts.

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