Employment Dates on Your Resume

While reading a resume today, I was reminded of a mistake some job seekers make with their employment dates. 

When listing the current position the job seeker is in, the convention is the starting date to “Present.”   If the job seeker is unemployed, they should list the starting and ending date. 

The mistake I have noticed occasionally is listing the current date as the end date for job seekers that are still employed.  This sends a mistaken message. 

Here are some examples and how I would interpret them:

12/94 to 4/08Unemployed since April 2008
1/00 to PresentCurrently employed in a position since Jan. 2000
2003 to 2008Unemployed for part of 2008

These are three formats I commonly see.  I don’t like the years only format.  I prefer to have months listed.  If the months aren’t listed, I ask for them in the interview – usually in the first phone screen.  If the job seeker had a gap in their employment they were trying to hide, it’s eventually going to come out.  When the gap is uncovered, it usually makes a worse impression than if it had just been listed on the resume.  Part of the reason for this is that the job seeker is probably uncomfortable talking about the gap, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried to cover it up.  They would have been better off to have disclosed it up front.  If the gap is a significant factor on the resume, talk about it in the cover letter. 

Ok, so back to the format…listing the years with an ending year implies the job seeker is unemployed.  Although rare, some make the mistake of doing this while still employed.  If you are employed, go with the 2nd format, listing the starting date to "Present."