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cbloom8's avatar

What tense should I speak in when writing about myself on a resume?

Asked by cbloom8 (1703 points ) August 31st, 2009

I’m putting together a resume, and I’m wondering, when you explain in detail about certain aspects of the resume (jobs, awards, etc.), what tense do you speak in? Do you say, “I won this award for doing ‘x’”, or do you phrase it in a different tense, like “Award received for going ‘x’.” Should it be done in first person or third? (Let me know if you’re confused, this is a confusing topic.)

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11 Answers

blastfamy's avatar

If it were me, I would keep it more formal, by going with a passive past tense (Award recieved for x; worked with x,y,z)

Also, you may consider listing skills, experience, etc…

gailcalled's avatar

LIst Awards as a bulleted topic.

Nobel Prize in Literature Spring 2009
Pulizer Prize in Journalism October 2007
Fulbright Sept…..
Second Fulbright
Beatification pending.

rebbel's avatar

A bit late maybe, but congratulations @gailcalled!

gailcalled's avatar

Milo here: I won those. Gail washes, starches and irons my tuxedo shirt and puts my diamond cuff links in.

rebbel's avatar

Ah, as it should be.
Bravo. ;-)

Jeruba's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled. Use lists where possible and let the heading take care of the statement. This technique has the advantage of making your resume more scannable, too, something prospective employers (and their first-line resume readers) welcome.

If you have only one award to list, you could call the list “Awards and Recognition” and include commendations for outstanding service, etc.

PerryDolia's avatar

A resume is written like a newspaper article: third person, past tense. Yes, part of the resume can be a list (such as Awards), but most of the resume should be action and results oriented.

Avoid personality characteristics, such as:
Good leader
Insightful
People oriented
because they are not action oriented.

Explain what you have done as if written by an adoring biographer:

Led a team of 100 people to develop the first mag laser capable of 250,000 watts.
Managed the largest support team in North America and reduced the wait time for customer calls by 50%.

Darwin's avatar

I agree on past tense, bulleted lists where possible, and keeping things short and sweet. Having had to read multiple resumes in my previous incarnation as a working stiff, it is much easier if there are fewer words and if things are grouped under appropriate headings such as Schooling, Experience, Publications, Awards, and so on.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not a fan of lists. I like stories, the way @PerryDolia put it. I need to know what you did and how you think and what your efforts resulted in. Not just the result, but how you got the result. And it better be believable, too.

I don’t care if you write in first person or third person, but frankly, I don’t like third person passive tone of voice. I prefer it if a candidate owns his or her work history. Again, it’s part of telling the story. It may be risky, but it will make your resume stand out. I’m real tired of all these boring, standard resumes. I’m looking for character and inventiveness and good problem solving skills. Show me. Don’t tell me.

Jeruba's avatar

Remember: the purpose of the resume is not to get you the job. It’s to get you the interview.

You can tell your stories at the interview if they seem apt. If you make it hard for the resume reader to identify you very quickly as a candidate of interest, you won’t be having the chance. When the number of applicants is high, they’ll use whatever they can find to eliminate as many candidates as possible as fast as possible. Do everything you can to avoid getting sifted into the “no” pile on the very first pass.

give_seek's avatar

Present tense for your current job. Use past tense for everything else.

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