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There are many pitfalls for job-seekers who are creating their own resumes. One of the most common of those potential errors involves the question of whether employment months should be listed on the resume. Other potential problems can arise from the formatting of those dates. So, should you be listing employment months on your resume? And if so, what’s the right way to list those dates?

 

The General Rule on Listing Employment Months

 

ABC Corporation         1/2009 – 5/2018

VS.

ABC Corporation          2009 – 2018

 

Let’s get the big question out of the way right off the bat. There are some who say that you should always consider listing employment months on your resume – even if it produces gaps in your work history. The reason for that is simple. You see, if you just list the years of employment, most employers will assume that you’re trying to hide something. And in most instances, they would be right!

Now, it is true that many job-seekers have in the past avoided listing employment months when they had work history gaps. And for a time, that approach probably helped many of them avoid questions about time away from the workforce.

However, old strategies often become obsolete with time, as more and more people see them being used. That’s certainly the case in this instance. Today’s hiring managers will typically see any attempt to avoid listing employment months as an attempt to hide some gap in your employment history.

And let’s be honest here: they’re usually right in that assessment. After all, the only real reason to leave out the months is that you’re trying to hide a gap.

 

On the Other Hand…

Still, there are times when you might feel that you really do need to only put years on a resume. If that employment gap is sizable and difficult to explain away, then it may be tempting to leave dates off your resume. In fact, many experts recommend this approach, to ensure that your resume is as seamless and gap-free as possible. In the end, it can be a difficult decision to make, as you have to balance the need for honesty with your need to properly shape your narrative.

There is another argument along these lines, of course, and it’s simple to understand. It basically relies on the fact that there is rarely a requirement to list every job you’ve ever had. For most resumes, you should only include truly relevant experience – and that may offer some flexibility in how you list those dates.

 

Addressing Employment History Gaps

Make no mistake: if you’re listing employment months on your resume, any gaps will be noticeable. So, how can you be honest in your presentation without sounding warning bells in an employer’s mind?

(We wrote a good post here on how to deal with employment gaps on a resume)

The best bet is to focus on being as direct as possible. If you had a three-month gap between jobs, and you were struggling to land an interview, say so. If you took six months off to focus on taking care of a sick relative, be sure to tell the prospective employer about that time away. And if you had a lengthy period of unemployment while you pursued additional skills training, note that as well.

The important thing is to be honest because those gaps are often not as dire as you might imagine. The key is to focus your attention on the value you can provide as an employee. If the rest of your resume is rock-solid in that regard, your explanation for that work history gap will probably be sufficient to allay any serious concerns.

 

listing employment months

 

Listing Employment Months on a Resume the Right Way

If you’ve decided that  you should be listing employment months on your resume, it’s time to address another major concern: format. It’s not enough to just list those months and years; you need to know how to list dates on your resume. Here are some simple tips to help you with that formatting, as well as example to show you what it should look like.

  • Align your employment dates to the right, and use bold text for your resume month and year format.
  • If you had various positions at a given company, list the dates for each. Offset them slightly from the right and use normal text formatting.
  • When adding months on a resume, spell out the month name. As a rule, you should not be abbreviating months on a resume.
  • If you choose to only put years on your resume, be consistent.
  • Do not try to hide gaps. List months and years for every job and position.
  • Double-check your dates to make sure that there are no inadvertent errors.

 

Example: Listing Employment Months on a Resume:

ABC Corporation                               1/2009 – 5/2018

Insert a description of the company here

Senior Director, Marketing          6/2014 – 5/2018

Describe job role and achievements here

Assistant Director, Marketing    4/2013 – 6/2014

Describe job role and achievements here

Marketing Associate                      1/2009 – 4/2013

Describe job role and achievements here

 

 

At the end of the day, honesty is always the best policy. That’s true everywhere in life, but especially true when creating a resume. Listing employment months on a resume is typically the right thing to do and can help you avoid potential headaches in your job search efforts. So, you should probably try to include those months and just be prepared to explain any gaps that they may reveal. And if you decide to leave dates off your resume, be sure that you’re prepared to explain the omission if your would-be employer starts asking questions.

For more great employment history tips and examples, check out our post, Writing Your Resume Work Experience Section.

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