Are Past Job Duties Written in Past Tense?

Your resume should showcase your pristine grammar skills.

Your resume should showcase your pristine grammar skills.

There is no better time than the present to make sure your past job duties are correctly formatted on your resume. Job duties should be written in the correct tense for the situation -- quickly telling the reader if you currently perform the duties or performed them in the past.

Past Jobs

All of your past job duties and accomplishments -- you no longer work for the employer -- should be written in past tense. This should be consistent for all duties listed for past employers, internships or other experiences. Even if you just resigned the position yesterday, a completed job should always be referred to in past tense to indicate the duty was started and completed in the past.

Current Jobs

Any job duties or accomplishments that are current -- you still perform them and work for the employer -- should be written in present tense. This should be consistent for all duties listed for a current employer, even if you no longer perform the function or the accomplishment took place last year. Present tense informs a potential employer that the job is current.

Formatting Verbs

To indicate whether a job was in the present or past, format the verb accordingly. A resume requires direct and active language, so use the simple form of past and present verbs. For example, use "develop" and not "have developed" or "is developing" when writing in present tense. Use "produced" and not "had produced" or "was producing" when writing in past tense.

Action Verbs

Write job duties so that they begin with a verb -- a strong verb that tells the reader exactly what you did or do. Avoid weak verbs like "assist" or "work." Instead, choose verbs such as "developed" or "produced." Job duties should not be in sentence format. Begin with a verb for each duty and specifically state what you did and how well you did it.

 

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images