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Resumes past tense or present

This resource was written by Allen Brizee.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on April 5, 2012 .

Summary:

This resource explains how to write the following résumé sections: contact information, objective, and work experience.

Contact Information

The contact information section is at the top of your résumé and includes your name, mailing address, and phone number(s). If you have an email account, provide that address here. Note that your email address should be professional. In other words, an email address that reads hotchick @ yahoo.com is not acceptable. Here is a sample contact information section:

Karl M. Jones
900 N. 7th St. Apt. 6
Lafayette, IN 47904
765-123-4567
kmjones123 @ gmail.com

Objective

The objective should be short and tailored to the company and the job you want. The objective should include the company name and the job title. The objective should also include any job number in the ad. Here is a sample objective:

Objective: To obtain the welder apprentice position (#46) at A & D Industries

Work Experience

Note: You can reverse the work experience and education sections depending on your situation. The work experience section lists your past jobs beginning with the most recent position. The section also includes:

  • Name and address of company or organization
  • Employment dates
  • Position title
  • Responsibilities (remember to list the number of employees you supervised if you have management experience)
  • Awards and promotions (employers are very interested in your achievements and success. Awards and promotions show an employer that you have been recognized for your hard work)


Here is a sample work experience section:

Russell’s Collision Service, Lafayette, IN: July 2007-Present

Part Time Auto Body Technician, Welder/Fabricator

  • Diagnose, weld, and repair automotive body damage
  • Weld metal parts, components using brazing, gas, or arc equipment
  • Weld in flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead positions
  • Prepare accurate cost estimates
  • Match body parts
  • Mix and apply paint from spray primer to final finish work


Village Pantry, Lafayette, IN: June 2006-Present

Full and Part Time Retail Clerk

  • Run point of sales register
  • Maintain customer relations
  • Build merchandise displays
  • Track inventory
  • Stock shelves
  • Won “Employee of the Month” May 2006, April 2008


Village Pantry, Indianapolis, IN: April 2002-June 2006

Full Time Retail Clerk

  • Ran point of sales register
  • Maintained customer relations
  • Built merchandise displays
  • Tracked inventory
  • Stocked shelves

The verbs you use in your bullet lists should be active and should be specific. The Purdue OWL maintains a list of action verbs you can use to help pick words to describe what you have done. Click here to read the Purdue OWL’s list of action words for résumés.

Also, the tense of verbs in your bullet lists should be past tense for previous jobs: Ran point of sales register. Verbs should be present tense for jobs you currently hold: Run point of sales register. An exception to this is using a verb for something that happened in the past at your current job (from the example above: Won “Employee of the Month” May 2006, April 2008).

Lastly, make sure you use consistent construction in your bullet lists:

Not consistent

  • Ran point of sales register
  • Customer relations management
  • Merchandise displays development
  • Tracked inventory
  • Shelf stock


Consistent

  • Ran point of sales register
  • Maintained customer relations
  • Built merchandise displays
  • Tracked inventory
  • Stocked shelves


Click here to download the PDF file containing sample résumés and employment letters.

what verb tense should I use on my resume? Ask a Manager

Awards and promotions show an employer that you have been recognized for your hard work)


Here is a sample work experience section:

Russell’s Collision Service, Lafayette, IN: July 2007-Present

Part Time Auto Body Technician, Welder/Fabricator

  • Diagnose, weld, and repair automotive body damage
  • Weld metal parts, components using brazing, gas, or arc equipment
  • Weld in flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead positions
  • Prepare accurate cost estimates
  • Match body parts
  • Mix and apply paint from spray primer to final finish work


Village Pantry, Lafayette, IN: June 2006-Present

Full and Part Time Retail Clerk

  • Run point of sales register
  • Maintain customer relations
  • Build merchandise displays
  • Track inventory
  • Stock shelves
  • Won “Employee of the Month” May 2006, April 2008


Village Pantry, Indianapolis, IN: April 2002-June 2006

Full Time Retail Clerk

  • Ran point of sales register
  • Maintained customer relations
  • Built merchandise displays
  • Tracked inventory
  • Stocked shelves

The verbs you use in your bullet lists should be active and should be specific.

Verbs should be present tense for jobs you currently hold: Run point of sales register. An exception to this is using a verb for something that happened in the past at your current job (from the example above: Won “Employee of the Month” May 2006, April 2008).

Lastly, make sure you use consistent construction in your bullet lists:

Not consistent

  • Ran point of sales register
  • Customer relations management
  • Merchandise displays development
  • Tracked inventory
  • Shelf stock


Consistent

  • Ran point of sales register
  • Maintained customer relations
  • Built merchandise displays
  • Tracked inventory
  • Stocked shelves


Click here to download the PDF file containing sample résumés and employment letters.

Resume Verb Forms

Infinitive Present Participle Past Tense Past Participle
resume resuming resumed resumed

Conjugation of Resume

Simple / Indefinite Present Tense
He/She/It resumes .
I resume.
You/We/They resume.

Present Continuous Tense
He/She/It is resuming.
I am resuming.
You/We/They are resuming.

Present Perfect Tense
He/She/It has resumed.
I have resumed.
You/We/They have resumed.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense
He/She/It has been resuming.
I have been resuming.
You/We/They have been resuming.

Simple Past Tense
He/She/It resumed.
I resumed.
You/We/They resumed.

Past Continuous Tense
He/She/It was resuming.
I was resuming.
You/We/They were resuming.

Past Perfect Tense
He/She/It had resumed.
I had resumed.
You/We/They had resumed.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense
He/She/It had been resuming.
I had been resuming.
You/We/They had been resuming.

Simple Future Tense
He/She/It will/shall resume.
I will/shall resume.
You/We/They will/shall resume.

Future Continuous Tense
He/She/It will/shall be resuming.
I will/shall be resuming.
You/We/They will/shall be resuming.

Future Perfect Tense
He/She/It will/shall have resumed.
I will/shall have resumed.
You/We/They will/shall have resumed.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense
He/She/It will/shall have been resuming.
I will/shall have been resuming.
You/We/They will/shall have been resuming.

Frequently asked questions:
1) What is the ing form of resume?
2) What is simple present tense of resumed?
3) Conjugate resume.



Confused yet? Here's a grammar refresher:
  • Past tense verbs express actions that already happened, and they usually end in -ed (except the funky ones like ran or made)
    Example: Organized and analyzed data obtained during testing.
  • Present tense verbs refer to current or ongoing actions—either something you're doing right now, or that you do repeatedly
    Example: Develop curriculum for K-12 environmental program.

But how do I know what tense to use in my resume?

It's simple: If you're employed and writing about the responsibilities and accomplishments in your present job, use the present tense. If you're writing about a past job, use past tense.

See? Easy-peasy.

But wait! Here's a curve ball: What if your current job involves a responsibility that you no longer have? Like hiring seven new staff members? You accomplished that goal, but technically you can't describe it in the present tense because you're no longer performing that duty.

In this case, make sure all of your current responsibilities are followed by your past accomplishments for that position. Here's what that might look like:
  • Create and maintain quarterly department reports
  • Manage product engineering and development process
  • Hired and trained 7 staff members
  • Developed new task management system that increased productivity 25%

When in doubt...

The simplest option is to put everything in past tense (yes, even your current responsibilities). After all, if you're an active job seeker, you're ready to put that current job in the past and make your next career move, so you might as well start with your resume.

But whatever you do, the key is to be consistent throughout the entire resume. Random mixing and matching of verb tenses is a resume don't.

Ready To Jump Start Your Job Search?

Comments

  1. Figisaqatoxexa

    I agree with his wife"s statement that"s why his death bugs me; he loved his family/, making plans, present tense talk

  2. Rezixiva

    He"s not president, we are talking about PRESENT TENSE what year are you in 2016?

  3. Kodopotamiv

    We are talking present tense. Hillary is past tensed. Let deal with hear and now.

  4. Mijawalen

    Changing a novella from past to present tense while flipping it from 3rd to 1st person and swapping gender of two main characters.

  5. Jiwelojoj

    Help is at hand for conjugating SER ( to be ) in the present tense in . Click on link.

  6. Wosutibamojoku

    You speaking in the present tense. Something you wanna tell me bff?

  7. Lawoseyiwawelu

    Past Imperfect Present Tense by Helena Rees via

  8. Wututujabu

    You also talked in the present tense. If you"re thinking 2018, that"s fine. Just want to be clear.

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