By | September 14, 2022

resume writing tips by post a resume

Grammar and consistency are key when it comes to your resume. Uniform and error-free writing not only makes your resume easier for a recruiter or hiring manager to understand, but it also shows that you are conscientious, pay attention to detail, and care about your job search. (Don’t say you’re meticulous, then submit a typo-filled resume!) And the verb tense or tenses you use are one vital way to make sure your resume is professional and easy to read.

Using proper tense is an essential detail for a well-organized resume that will help you stand out to future employers. Resumes are primarily written in past or present tense. Past tense (think verbs ending in -ed, primarily) describes actions that are no longer happening, while present tense describes actions that are currently happening.

But overall, the most important resume rule for verb tenses is to be consistent. When Smith was a recruiter, she “would notice if a resume [was] a mix of present and past without any consistency.” Mixing tenses inappropriately makes resumes more difficult to read—which means you’re less likely to move to the next stage.

When to Use Past Tense on a Resume

Most of your resume should be in the past tense because the bulk of your resume space is taken up by past work experiences. “Use past tense for sections of your resume you are no longer doing,” Smith says. This means your previous jobs, completed accomplishments, volunteering or other activities you’re no longer participating in, awards you’ve won, certifications you’ve earned, or education you’ve completed.

A bullet point for a past job might look like this:

  • Conceived, planned, scheduled, and wrote copy for 20+ social media posts weekly for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
When to Use Past Tense on a Resume

Most of your resume should be in the past tense because the bulk of your resume space is taken up by past work experiences. “Use past tense for sections of your resume you are no longer doing,” Smith says. This means your previous jobs, completed accomplishments, volunteering or other activities you’re no longer participating in, awards you’ve won, certifications you’ve earned, or education you’ve completed.

A bullet point for a past job might look like this:

  • Conceived, planned, scheduled, and wrote copy for 20+ social media posts weekly for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

How to choose a resume tense

To help you choose the right resume tense, use the following guidelines:

  1. Use past tense for past jobs.

  2. Use present tense for current jobs.

  3. Avoid combining present and past tense under one heading.

  4. Use future tense when applying for an internship or when referring to your goals in your resume objective.

Examples of past tense resume verbs

Here are some examples of resume action verbs in the past tense you can use to highlight past accomplishments:

  • Capitalized

  • Achieved

  • Deciphered

  • Exceeded

  • Spearheaded

  • Supervised

  • Surpassed

  • Established

  • Enacted

  • Endeavored

Instead of using common past-tense phrases like “served as,” “responsible for,” “duties included” or “actions encompassed,” try the following verbs:

  • Founded

  • Analyzed

  • Accomplished

  • Increased

  • Improved

  • Developed

  • Delivered

  • Implemented

  • Expanded

  • Volunteered

If you want to demonstrate your communication skills, try the following verbs in the past tense:

  • Trained

  • Spoke

  • Presented

  • Performed

  • Instructed

  • Enlivened

  • Conveyed

  • Collaborated

List of present tense resume verbs

Here are some examples of resume action verbs—categorized by skill type—in the present tense you can use to highlight current responsibilities and skills:

Management skills

If you want to demonstrate your management skills, you can try the following present tense verbs:

  • Analyze

  • Administer

  • Attain

  • Assign

  • Contract

  • Chair

  • Coordinate

  • Consolidate

  • Delegate

  • Develop

Organizational skills

To demonstrate your organizational skills, try:

  • Arrange

  • Approve

  • Classify

  • Catalogue

  • Compile

  • Collect

  • Execute

  • Dispatch

  • Implement

  • Generate

Technical skills

To demonstrate your technical skills, use the following:

  • Assemble

  • Build

  • Compute

  • Calculate

  • Devise

  • Design

  • Engineer

  • Fabricate

  • Maintain

  • Operate

Helping skills

To demonstrate your helping skills, use the following:

  • Assist

  • Assess

  • Coach

  • Clarify

  • Demonstrate

  • Counsel

  • Diagnose

  • Expedite

  • Educate

  • Facilitate

Financial skills

To demonstrate your financial skills, try:

  • Allocate

  • Appraise

  • Audit

  • Balance

  • Budget

  • Calculate

  • Compute

  • Forecast

  • Manage

  • Market

Creative skills

To demonstrate your creative skills, try:

  • Create

  • Conceptualize

  • Act

  • Fashion

  • Revitalize

Additional tips for choosing the right resume tense

Here are additional tips to help you choose the right resume tense:

Optimize your resume for ATS

Many companies today use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan applications for resume keywords. It turns out that even the resume tense can affect the way the system searches for results. If the job description mentions “research,” which is in the present tense, and you used the word “researched,” which is in the past tense, ATS may overlook your resume.

To optimize your resume for ATS, you have to include the search terms that the employer or recruiter is likely to put into their ATS. To figure out these search terms, read the job description closely. Look for keywords that the employer uses in the job description and use them in your resume.

For example, when the employer uses the verb “train” in the present tense, you can change your resume phrase from “trained 100 customer support agents on company policies and procedures” to “managed to train 100 new customer support agents on company policies and procedures.” This optimizing trick helps your resume beat the ATS.

Avoid verbs in their present participle

Some candidates use verbs in their present participle form (verbs that end with -ing) rather than in their past participle form (verbs that end with -ed) when describing their previous job responsibilities. It seems much easier to write “training the team of customer support agents” in your past or current duties than to decide between “managed” or “manage.”

However, using this method may leave an impression of incompleteness. Verbs used in the past or present tense, on the contrary, provide a sense of achievement and active involvement, giving it a sense of authority.

Resume template

Here’s a template to help you draft a resume that uses the correct tense:

[First Name Last Name]
[your-email@email.com]
[Phone number]

Objective statement/ Career summary
[Write your objective statement or career summary here]

Work experience

[Title]
[Inclusive dates]
[Company or organization], [Location/Address]

  • [List three to five work experiences]

  • [Begin sentences with past or present action verbs]

  • [Be specific about technology or procedures used]

Education

[College degree earned, Name of School]
[Year graduated]

  • [Three to five bullets focused on your achievements, accomplishments or memberships while in college]

Skills

  • [List three to five relevant skills]

Certifications

  • [Name of certification, name of certifying body or agency, dates of obtainment, location (if applicable)]

  • [List each certification in reverse-chronological order. Begin with your most recent.]


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