BLUF - consider using 4 digit years on your resume rather than the 2 digits that M-T recommends!


I've followed the M-T resume guidance and listed my roles with dates as "Month YY" and, for the first time, got feedback from a potential employer that the years are missing on my resume.  They weren't missing, but since my career started after Y2K, all my entries are like "March 15 - April 20".  This person interpreted that as I put in 5 weeks there rather than 15 years.


They were the only one to stay anything in 15 years.  No telling how many other folks interpreted it similarly and didn't say anything.  But even one misunderstanding is too many while I'm unemployed.  I'll be adding the "20" prefix.


In context, the two year dates make sense.  The achievements and responsibilities indicate years of effort rather than weeks.  I'm applying for positions in the ~15 year range, not 15 weeks.  But... communication is what the [reader] does.

jckundert's picture

I see your reasoning about adding the "20" before "15".  I would suggest simply adding a ' before the 2-digit year.  Example: March '15 - April '20.  The apostrophe is commonly substituted for a year's first two digits.

jrb3's picture

... in 1999, during the IT semi-panicked run-up to Y2K.  The reviewer was being topically snide, of course, which encouraged me to always use four digits rather than two whenever I could.

My resumes show that date range as "2015-03 to 2020-04".  No possibility for ambiguity or mistranslation, which is very important for deep-in-the-weeds IT work like I do and have done.

LEmerson's picture

I always use four digits for years. In my opinion it's a mistake to leave any chance of misunderstanding, such as the situation you described. Don't leave the reader with any unnecessary tasks such as the need to evaluate the subject matter or make comparisons in order to understand what you're writing. I could write,03, 20, 22, 07, 21, or any other number between 01 and 31 and you wouldn't have any chance of knowing whether I was talking about a day in the month or a year without additional information pulled from somewhere else.

Any time you write about a subject where items have the possibility of being confused, whether details or numbers, you should be very clear and careful to make sure your reader knows what you're referring to exactly. For example, say you're discussing officating at a hockey game. "The line judge made the call. Then the official imposed the penalty." You can't know for sure if the line judge and the official are the same person.

It's fine to use different wording to describe the same thing to improve readability, except when there is a particular risk of confusion, which does exist with trying to convey years with two digits.

Also, most dates in any form you fill out in the US uses the format, mm/dd/yyyy. People almost always read as scanning images rather than reading letters or numbers in sequence. If you use a format a person is not accustomed to, you're setting up a speed bump. Using mm/dd/yyyy eliminates all the problems.

jrb3's picture

I've been around enough non-US folks and in enough non-US-only contexts that I must treat mm/dd/yyyy as inherently ambiguous without further context.  Are 03/04/2022 and 03/05/2022 one day apart (US) or one month apart (European)?

yyyy-mm-dd solves that.  It also sorts cleanly (great when processing data) and provokes good discussions with proteges about problem-solving and problem-prevention.