Present vs. Past Tense Verbs

    When you are writing your resume, you may wonder which verb tense to use. If I am currently working at a position, should I use the present or past tense? Should all of my verbs be in the same tense? 

    These are all valid questions that we are here to answer!

    At Quinncia, we flag present tense verbs because we focus on achievement-orientated bullet points, not task-orientated. What's the difference? 

  • Task-orientated bullets focus on your job duties. These bullets essentially just list what you did day-to-day and do not highlight your skills or the results you achieved. 
  • Achievement-orientated bullets focus on what you have accomplished at your job so far, the skills you have learned, and the impact you've made on the business

    We like to focus on achievements, so it is important to highlight the skills you already have and accomplishments you've already made by using the past tense.   

    Try following these steps when writing your bullet points:

    1. Ask yourself, What were my daily responsibilities?
    2. Think about which essential skills you used at work, volunteering, etc. 
      • Click here to learn what essential skills are! 
    3. Think about which technical skills you used at work, volunteering, etc.
      • Click here to learn what technical skills are! 
    4. Determine if you had any responsibilities that could be quantified (i.e., customer satisfaction or sales). 
      • If you cannot quantify your experience, don't worry! You can still write a bullet point without a quantification. 
      • Do not makeup numbers or list numbers that don't exist.
      • ATS will not reject your resume if you do not quantify a bullet point. 
      • Quinn does not flag you for leaving out a quantification, she only suggests it as an improvement.
    5. Identify 3-5 of the responsibilities you want to write about that connect to the industry or position you are applying for. 
      • You can even combine some experiences if they connect. 
    6. Follow this framework to write your bullet points: Performed X to do Y resulting in Z.
    Here are some examples of achievement-based bullet points!
  • Collaborated and communicated with restaurant staff by placing customer orders and feedback through the POS (point of sales) system. 
  • Served 25% of restaurant tables each evening of work, while clarifying menu options, persuading customers to consider the restaurant special, and listening to customers’ orders. 

  • Listened and dealt with customer complaints and problems in a positive manner and accommodated them with solutions that left them satisfied. 
  • Researched and wrote a 10-page paper worth 15% of the grade and presented the information discovered using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. 
  • Explored and examined textbook chapters, articles, and monographs to map out and compile information from this period. 
  • Organized research expectations by reviewing assignment guidelines and scoring on Canvas, a management system, to achieve a high score. 
  • Received feedback from the instructor to evolve the thesis and discovered information to develop a stronger paper and presentation. 

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