Present or Past Tense on Resumes

One of the questions we get asked most frequently is whether or not to use present tense on resumes, specifically for current jobs or other ongoing activities. The answer is… well it’s a matter of opinion, but here are some cases for and against each, as well as our final conclusion.

Present Tense

This is the most “obvious” answer. If you’re currently working somewhere, your description of the role should be present tense, as presumably your duties and responsibilities are ongoing. You haven’t “Conducted administrative work”, you are “Conducting administrative work” or “Conducts administrative work”. There is also the idea that it can be confusing to readers who see “Current” or “Present” for the job title but then are reading text that’s past tense.

Past Tense

Generally speaking, most of the other parts of your resume will be written in past tense. Therefore, isn’t it a bit odd to have two different tenses on the same document? Well, that’s really the primary argument for past tense – it creates a consistent flow and style across the document and does make reading the document a bit easier. If you have six roles in past tense and then just one in present, it can be a bit jarring to go to that present tense. Therefore, just make the entire document past tense! After all, it’s a very common practice, and most people will not be confused at all by seeing that your current role is written in past tense.

Another argument for keeping current roles in past tense is the issue of projects, achievements, or anything else that was done in your current role, but is not ongoing. For example, maybe in your current position you obtained a huge new client back in 2021. Because that deal is over and done with, you’d want to use past tense for it. However, that would really look odd if the rest of the section is written in present tense.


Really, it’s not a huge deal either way whether you choose to go with present or past tense on the resume for your current role. However, we generally recommend utilizing past tense throughout. The argument for a standard tense and style across the document is a strong one, and the element of making sure that past accomplishments don’t clash with more ongoing duties is helpful as well. And the arguments against past tense simply don’t hold much water – it is highly unlikely that any recruiter or hiring manager will be puzzled by seeing past tense for a current role. Even for clients we don’t work with, the most common style is to have past tense throughout the document, and most of the resumes that we build include past tense everywhere as well. It’s your choice, but there are more positives and fewer negatives to having past tense throughout the resume.


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