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Should Your Resume Be In Past Tense

When Should I Use Present Tense On My Cv

When do you use past vs. present tense in your resume?

You should use action verbs in the simple present tense on your CV when youre writing bullet points for your current role that describe:

  • Anything you do on a day-to-day basis
  • General responsibilities that you hold in your current position
  • Projects that are still ongoing

In other words, each bullet point for your current role should start in an action verb in the present tense, such as:

  • Prepare financial reports
  • Deliver presentations to executive leadership
  • Devise and implement strategic initiatives
  • Negotiate lease agreements
  • Optimise business processes and procedures

As a result, readers will be able to skim and process the information more quickly and thats exactly what youre looking to accomplish.

When To Mix Past And Present Tense In A Resume

On some rare occasions, you don’t need to contemplate whether you should write your resume using the past or present tense. A mixture of both past and present tenses in one resume section makes perfect sense too.

Sometimes when you have been working for a company for a few years you probably have done and accomplished various things, or even got promoted. In this scenario, you can list your achievements in your resume with the past tense and your existing duties in the present tense in your resume.

Another possible scenario is where you successfully completed projects which you can elaborate in your resume using the past tense. But since your daily duties remain the same, you can illustrate them under the work duties section of your resume using the present tense.

For example:

Vertical Writer | Platos Publication Group2016 – present


  • Write 5-7 articles weekly, including but not limited to first-person reviews, SEO roundups, trend-based features in the healthcare industry.
  • Review and edit article drafts, as well as provide feedback for junior and freelance writers.
  • Observe, listen, and analyze trends to brainstorm fresh weekly content that aligns with the brand and company’s objectives.
  • Conduct research and interviews with industry experts, leaders, and influencers.
  • Assign article topics and organize publishing dates.

Key Achievements:

Use Present Tense For Current Jobs

If you want to include present tense verbs on your resume, use these exclusively for work that you still perform. You may list all your responsibilities for your current position in the present tense while listing the responsibilities for your previous positions in the past tense. If you are writing a resume with little to no job experience, you may include work on volunteer projects or extracurricular activities that you’re still involved in and mention them in the present tense.

If you have graduated from college, any activities you participated in during your stay would remain in the past tense. However, if you are mentioning your work with an organization that you are still a part of, it’s best to use the present tense.

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Past Awards And Accomplishments

If you opt to include a section on your resume for awards and accomplishments, use the past tense. For each item in your Awards and Accomplishments section, you want to include the following:

  • The name of a school you attended, business you worked for or organization of which you were a part

  • The city and state where the school, business or organization was located

  • The years you attended the school, worked for the business or were a part of the organization

  • Bullet points or a summary paragraph detailing what you accomplished at the school, business or organization, with each bullet point or summary starting with an action verb

Examples Of Previous Job Experience

  • Handled the entire project successfully
  • Managed multiple teams

Hiration Pro Tip: It is sometimes necessary for you to list a past achievement even while mentioning your current job responsibilities. In such a scenario, you can make a clear distinction between finished tasks and ongoing tasks and thereby keep both the past and present tenses separate.

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When To Use Both Past And Present Tense

Your resume is supposed to be a customized career marketing document that demonstrates you’re the best candidate for a specific position. You sell yourself to new companies by highlighting career accomplishments.

So, how do you handle talking about past and present items in the description of your current role if you shouldn’t mix past and present tense within the same section of your resume? Separate the bullet points under your current role into things you do everyday first and achievements last. Write daily responsibilities in present tense and your achievements in the past tense.This is what that would look like:

  • Document, report, and present project milestones, performance KPIs and status updates in weekly executive meetings attended by as many as 12 board members.

  • Implement and execute all standard operating procedures to ensure adherence to protocols, mitigate risk, and improve overall safety rating to 0 incidents per month.


  • Saved more than $300K by tracking spending, identifying waste, and authoring/implementing new project metrics that reduced spending.

  • Nominated by leaders for the I’m-The-Greatest-Employee award, 2021.

Avoid These 7 Deadly Resume Mistakes

Every job seeker knows the importance of writing a quality resume.

Quality resumes are error-free, illustrate your accomplishments, and are targeted to the employer. While most job seekers follow these guidelines, there are some mistakes that are easily overlooked when writing a resume.

If you feel like your resume is perfect but you still havenât received any job interviews, here are six deadly resume mistakes youâre probably making:

1. Wrong tense.

When talking about previous experience, use the past tense. When talking about your current position, use the present tense. Seems easy, right? While this seems like a simple grammar fix, itâs a mistake many job seekers make on their resumes.

As you proofread your resume, pay close attention to the tense of your writing. Read your resume aloud multiple times and think about the verb tense you use for each section. You might be surprised at the mistakes you find.

2. Poor word choice.

Another common mistake is poor word choice. As you proofread your resume, be aware of the words you use to describe your experience and watch out for homophones .

For example, be aware of words like âto, two, and twoâ, âaffected and effectedâ, and âtheir, there, and theyâre.â Checking for this common mistake can prevent your resume from going in the trash.

3. No links to social media profiles.

If youâre not on LinkedIn or donât have a digital portfolio, youâre missing out on a huge opportunity to impress employers.

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When Should I Use Past Tense On My Resume

You should use action verbs in the simple past tense when youre writing bullet points for:

  • Any of your previous positions
  • Any projects or tasks in your current role that you already completed

Examples of bullet points written in the past tense include:

  • Organized conference for 5,000 attendees
  • Taught lectures to undergraduate students
  • Evaluated employee performance

Is It Okay To Vary Verb Tenses On My Resume

Past, Present, or Future? What Verb Tense to Use in a Resume


Its okay to have bullet points in both the present and past tense for your current position.

Realistically, youll likely want to provide examples of impressive projects or reports you worked on in your role but already completed. These should be described in the past tense.

Any other activities that you are still responsible for will be explained in the present tense.

You should stick exclusively to past tense for your previous roles, however.

Dont overthink it!

Past Position = Past Tense.


We often see people make the mistake of adding a new position to their resume without updating the bullet points for the previous role.

Make sure to carefully read through your bullet points before you submit your resume to avoid this error!

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Use Future Tense When Applying For An Internship

The future tense is rarely used in resumes, but it could have possible benefits for college students. For instance, if you are applying for a summer internship and you want to emphasize that you will be doing something else during the fall that will help your application, you can include a brief description of it in the future tense.

Keep in mind, however, that mentioning work experiences that you will expect to have can hurt you when looking for a job. If you’re applying for a position in a company that looks for part-time employees or interns to later transition into full-time, saying that you have something lined up may not work in your favor. If you’re applying for educational internships, however, this may be a good option.

Related:10 Ways to Get the Most From Your Internship

Next On To The Past Or Present Tense In A Resume

First, you need to define what past or present tense in a resume means and how it is used.

For the non-English majors, most of the time, past tense is when you add the ed to a verb. Resumes are filled with action verbs but the past tense would be words like these:

  • Engineered
  • Eliminate
  • Write

Clients come to me perplexed because someone told them they are doing it wrong even when I wrote the resume for them. Heres my rule: In a past position, the action verb is always in the past tense. You are not in the job anymore, it is in your past.

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Present Tense Job Description

Seasonal assistant manager at Tasty Freeze, May to September, 20XX to present.

1. Greet and serve customers

2. Train 14 new employees each summer on a variety of tasks, including cash register operations, service and cleaning and stocking.

3. Order weekly supplies and track inventory, with a budget of over $10,000 a month.

4. Assist the general manager in scheduling, managing time off requests, payroll and employee onboarding.

5. Complete opening and closing duties as one of two keyholders.

Finding work is work. Having a resume that shines and that you can feel proud of is crucial. Now that you know when to put your resume in the past or present tense, you’re ready to tackle the next steps: finding the right job and nailing that interview.

Supporting confident professional women like you is what Fairygodboss is all about. We’re here to help with everything from building a great resume, to making those big next-level career moves, and beyond.

Passive Vs Active Voice

Do I Write My Resume In Past Tense  Current Jobs

You may have heard the advice to always use active voice, but what does that mean? Active voice is when you talk about things you did, e.g. “increased sales” or “trained new staff.” Passive voice is when you talk about something that was done to you, e.g. “was asked to organize an event,” or “tasked with training new staff.” Active voice is always better it’s more straightforward, easier to read, and keeps the focus squarely on what you actually accomplished rather than just what you were asked to do.

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When To Use Present Tense On Your Resume

The career summary or profile summary of your resume should always be in the present tense. The skills you list in this prominent section of your resume are skills you do all the time. You can write your current position in present tense, too. This is the it-can-get-tricky part because you can also talk about your current position in the past tense — more on this in just a bit. Here are a couple of examples:

    • Direct full-cycle hiring processes, including telephone interviews, to ramp up department operations.

Train 6 associates and 2 clerks to ascertain the needs of clients and improve customer satisfaction.

When To Use Past Tense

Always use past tense when describing a previous position, activity or volunteer commitment. Past tense can also be used throughout a resume based on personal style preference. One exception is that past tense should not be used when describing current or future goals. Past tense is often used when listing job history. For example, you could describe your previous job experiences by writing that you directed phone calls and set appointments for top executives.

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What Tense Should Be Used In A Resume Writing

There are three fundamental tenses in English: present tense, past tense, and future tense.

When writing your resume, the present tense is used to describe your current role or ongoing projects. Meanwhile, entries like achievements, prior job duties, and completed projects in your resume are written using the past tense. The only section in a resume where you possibly use future tense is to state your career objective and what you hope to achieve in a specific company or role.

Since the majority of your resume space is to convey your past experience, the basic resume writing and tenses rule is using the past tense. Generally, resumes should only be written in past tense because it is essentially a record of what we did professionally and where we studied. However, when talking about your current position in a resume, describing it with present tense is the correct way to go.

To achieve perfect grammar and a good sense of logic in your resume, the key is to be accurate and consistent in the use of tenses. Accurate means no mistyping and choosing the correct tense for each section. On the other hand, being consistent means maintaining the same tense whether it’s past or present tense for all the sentences within a resume section.

On certain occasions that will be discussed further in this article, mixing up tenses to use in a resume for different verbs is acceptable.

Using Present Tense In Your Resume

Resume 5 – verb tenses

Just as you use past tense to write about events that have already happened, you use present tense to write about actions that are currently taking place.

This applies to the responsibilities youre actively performing in your current job and any volunteer work or activities youre still participating in.

You can see this in these examples:

  • Oversee projects for eight teams within the department.

  • Edit an average of 15 novella drafts per week.

  • Create and manage social media advertising campaigns on four platforms for three different products.

  • Volunteer with Thursday Night Lights once a week to feed the homeless.

  • Teach at a local tutoring center twice a month.

While its common and acceptable to use present tense on your resume, you should typically only use it in the section detailing your current position and in the section describing your activities outside of work.

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Always Use The Active Voice

Remember to write your resume in active voice. Using passive voice waters down the overall quality of your resume significantly. Worse still, it tends to shadow your accomplishments. Take a look at the following example:

  • Passive voice: Sales were boosted by 85% in 6 months.
  • Active voice: Boosted sales by 85% in 6 months.

Note, apart from the passive tone, there are some other things you should never include in your resume. Here, we remind you not to use any personal pronouns like I in your resume to avoid bringing down its quality.

To conclude, let us recap the essential points. When explaining your previous responsibilities and achievements, always consider writing in past tense. For your current occupation, the present should be used for things you still undertake and the past for any accomplishments. Lastly, always ensure that you use keywords as they appear in a vacancy description in your resume to beat the ATS.

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How To Choose A Resume Tense

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

  • Use past tense for past jobs.

  • Use present tense for current jobs.

  • Avoid combining present and past tense under one heading.

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

  • Choose The Right Tense To Beat The Applicant Tracking System

    Do I Write My Resume In Past Tense  4. In interviews, use the past ...

    The majority of recruiters today use the ATS to find relevant keywords in candidates documents. As people have since learned, the tense used in an application can affect the ATSs search and results. For example, if you use the past tense in your resume and say examined when the vacancy announcement said examine, you can be sure that the system will miss your result.

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    When To Use Present Tense On A Resume

    Youll use present tense on your resume anytime youre describing something thats currently happening. Present-tense verbs primarily belong in your resume summary and descriptions of your current job duties and ongoing accomplishments because those are about who you are and what youre doing right now. If your resume headline has a verb or if there are any activities, volunteer work, or projects youre currently working on outside of a full-time job, those should use the present tense as well. Basically, if the date range ends with Present, thats a good indicator you should be using the present tense, Smith says.

    Heres an example resume summary that uses present tense:

    Personable and motivated SaaS account manager who takes pride in finding the right solutions and products for every client through individual attention and relationship building. Team player who is always willing to help others and has a strong track record of reducing churn.


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