I am searching for a more stable job but I have not left my current position yet. In my resume, I have listed duties in my former jobs in past tense, but that seems awkward for things I am currently doing. However, I'm concerned that it looks non-standard if I switch tenses partway through.

Should my resume list responsibilities for my current job in the current tense (building, creating) or in the past tense (built, created) like all the other entries?

What if I'm currently working on a large project that I haven't finished? Does that change the correct answer?

Examples (all information is made-up)

Secretary Last month to Present

  • Transcribing emails
  • Tracking client information

Wal-Mart Employee Long time ago to Sooner

  • Carried heavy boxes
  • Engaged with customers


Secretary Last month to Present

  • Transcribed emails
  • Tracked client information

Wal-Mart Employee Long time ago to Sooner

  • Carried heavy boxes
  • Engaged with customers
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    I am aware of this question: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/6690/… but it doesn't seem to answer my question exactly. I thought it would be valuable to separate this question out to provide an easy resource for other askers. – Jerenda Sep 8 '14 at 18:13
  • 2
    Why do you feel a need to use past tense at all? You are indicating on your CV what you did at each job at "that" time or what the job required. – user8365 Sep 8 '14 at 18:21
  • 1
    @JeffO So I could just use present tense all the way through? – Jerenda Sep 8 '14 at 18:22
  • Since these are bullet points and not a narrative, you don't need to use past-tense like you would in a cover-letter. – user8365 Sep 15 '14 at 17:45
  • "Carrying heavy boxes" is funny. It has no purpose. You should rather write what you were carrying. For example: "Carrying heavy wine boxes". – Nicolas Barbulesco Jun 24 '15 at 7:20

Really it matters less whether you use past or present tense than if you are consistent in your use of the same tense. As an advertisement for your services, a resume is just a document that highlights things about you, such as your attention to detail. The old advice about "always use past tense" is more about looking consistent and "style guide correct" than anything else.

If only to show your new employer that you are already in the mindset of working for them, I would suggest being consistent in the past tense- but only to the extent that it seems natural. I doubt anyone reading the resume will even notice what you do there.


The answer is "yes". If you're citing things you have accomplished, that would be past tense. If you're citing things you are currently working on, that would be present tense, or past-continuing-into-present (I forget the proper term -- past imperfect?) such as "have spent the past year developing...."


As you can see in my comment on your question, I would naturally write every activity at present:

  • Carrying wine boxes
  • Engaging with customers

So all your jobs are described consistently. These phrases describe activities. They do not mean you are doing the tasks right now.

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