Are you grappling with the question, "Do you need to include months on a resume?" If so, you're not alone. Crafting an effective resume can be a daunting task, and job seekers often stumble upon various pitfalls along the way. Among these potential errors, the inclusion of employment months stands out as a common concern.
When it comes to listing dates of employment, overlooking or mishandling the months can lead to confusion or even skepticism from potential employers. Furthermore, improper formatting of these dates can create challenges – especially in how the applicant tracking system (ATS) calculates your experience. Thus, it becomes crucial to determine whether including employment months on your resume is necessary and, if so, to understand the correct approach for presenting these dates.
In this article, we will delve into the topic of including months on a resume, providing you with valuable insights and practical examples. So let's explore the nuances together and ensure your resume shines with precision and clarity.
The general rule on listing employment months
ABC Corporation 01/2009 - 05/2021
ABC Corporation 2009 - 2021
To list the months
Let's address the burning question right from the start: should you include months on your professional resume? Some experts advocate for always including months, even if it creates gaps in your work history.
Why? Well, it's quite simple.
If you only list the years of employment, most employers might assume that you're attempting to conceal something. And in many cases, their suspicions are warranted. In the past, job seekers opted to omit employment months to avoid questions about gaps in their work history. At the time, it may have served as a clever strategy to navigate potential scrutiny.
However, as with many things, strategies evolve over time. More and more people have caught on to this approach, rendering it less effective. So, it's crucial to weigh the risks and benefits of including or excluding employment months on your resume. In the following sections, we'll explore different scenarios, provide practical guidance, and help you make an informed decision about this vital aspect of your resume.
Or, not list the months
There are valid arguments for not including employment months on your resume. This means if you’re asking whether you can leave out months on your resume, the answer is “YES!”
Some professionals argue that focusing solely on years of employment helps to streamline the document and draw attention to your overall experience and accomplishments.
By omitting the specific months, you can avoid drawing unnecessary attention to short-term positions or brief employment stints that might not be relevant to your current career goals. This approach allows you to present a more concise and impactful resume, highlighting the quality and depth of your professional experience rather than getting caught up in the minutiae of dates.
Speaking of short employment stints
It's essential to remember that your resume is not a dumping ground for every job you've ever had. Rather, it serves as a targeted career marketing document tailored to a specific job or industry. It's crucial to prioritize relevant employment history that showcases your skills, accomplishments, and experiences most aligned with your current career goals.
Including every single job, regardless of relevance, can clutter your resume and dilute its impact. Instead, focus on selecting positions that highlight transferable skills, industry-specific knowledge, and notable achievements. By curating your work history in this manner, you present a cohesive narrative to potential employers and demonstrate your suitability for the desired role.
Employment history gaps – all gaps are not equal
When it comes to listing employment months on your resume, any gaps in your work history will be noticeable. However, it's important to understand how employers perceive these gaps and how to address them appropriately.
First, let's set the record straight. Not all employment gaps are created equal. For example, a three-month gap is usually looked up as the amount of time it takes to find a new job and probably won't be perceived as a significant concern by employers. On the other hand, gaps that extend to nine months or more tend to raise eyebrows. With this in mind, it's crucial to approach the issue of employment gaps with transparency and strategic storytelling.
The key is to be direct and honest in your presentation. If you experienced a brief three-month gap and faced challenges in landing interviews during that time, it's acceptable to mention it. On the other hand, if you took a year off to care for a sick relative or pursue additional skills training, be sure to communicate these reasons to prospective employers.
Remember, employers are often more interested in the value you can bring to the table as an employee. If the rest of your resume showcases your skills, accomplishments, and qualifications effectively, your explanation for the work history gap is likely to be sufficient in alleviating any major concerns.
Addressing employment gaps - turn challenges into opportunities
Facing an employment gap on your resume can be a daunting prospect, but with the right approach, you can transform it into an opportunity to showcase your strengths and resilience.
Here are some strategies to help you address employment gaps effectively:
Be honest and upfront: When discussing your employment gap, be transparent about the reasons without oversharing personal details. Briefly explain any significant life events, such as caregiving responsibilities, personal development endeavors, or career exploration.
Highlight transferable skills: Emphasize any relevant skills or experiences acquired during the gap period. Did you engage in freelance work, volunteer activities, or take online courses? Showcasing these experiences demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning and professional growth.
Fill the gap with relevant experiences: If possible, consider including relevant projects, internships, freelance work, or part-time roles that you undertook during the gap period. This demonstrates your proactive approach and helps bridge the timeline.
Address the gap in your cover letter: Use your cover letter to briefly address the employment gap and frame it positively. Focus on how the time off allowed you to gain new perspectives, enhance your skills, or clarify your career goals.
Networking and professional development: Stay active in your industry during the gap period by attending networking events, joining professional associations, or participating in relevant workshops. This shows your dedication and commitment to staying connected and updated.
Honesty goes a long way in any job search effort. That's why you should always list employment months on your resume!
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 an 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 | May 2009 - May 2018
Insert a description of the company here
Senior Director, Marketing | June 2014 – June 2018
Describe job role and achievements here
Assistant Director, Marketing | April 2013 – June 2014
Describe job role and achievements here
Marketing Associate | January 2009 – April 2013
Describe job role and achievements here
Presenting a clear employment history
As we come to the end of this article, it's crucial to emphasize the value of using months on your resume to present a clear and comprehensive employment history to prospective employers. While some may argue for omitting employment months or downplaying their importance, our exploration has revealed the significance of including this level of detail.
By listing employment months, you provide transparency and eliminate potential skepticism from employers who may suspect hidden gaps or inconsistencies. Properly formatting dates showcases your attention to detail and professionalism, instilling confidence in your candidacy.
Moreover, including months on your resume enables the applicant tracking system (ATS) to accurately calculate your experience, ensuring your qualifications align with job requirements. This optimization increases your chances of passing the initial screening process and landing interviews.
In the end, a well-crafted resume that includes employment months ensures clarity, builds trust, and effectively communicates your qualifications to potential employers. By following the guidelines and insights shared in this article, you can confidently navigate the complexities of resume writing and present yourself as a standout candidate in the competitive job market.
Best of luck as you create a compelling resume that propels your career forward!
Ready to create a standout resume that presents a clear employment history? Let our professional resume-writing services help you land your dream job.
Marsha Hebert, Professional Resume Writer
Marsha is a resume writer with a strong background in marketing and writing. After completing a Business Marketing degree, she discovered that she could combine her passion for writing with a natural talent for marketing. For more than 10 years, Marsha has helped companies and individuals market themselves. Read more advice from Marsha on ZipJob's blog.