I have two questions about using the present perfect and past simple. To ask my questions I will use the cover letter I wrote (an abridged version).

I have been working for two years at X. During this period, I have analyzed A. In addition, I have deepened my knowledge of B. Finally, I have developed and manteined C and have created D.

At the time of writing I am still working in this company.

To decide whether to use the present perfect or the past simple, the criterion I used is: is it an activity that I continue to carry out (or that I could resume in the future) or that has ended definitively?

I have analyzed... because it is an activity that I do often.

I have deepened... because the learning process continues over time.

I have developed... because C may still require changes or additions in the future.

  1. Are my choices right so far?

  2. If the creation of D was complete, should I use the past simple, i.e. just created? Or can I still adjust to the rest of the text and use the present perfect even if the creation is finished (as I wrote it, it is as if I am saying that creation is not complete)?

1 Answer 1


I think you are overthinking this. You ask:

Are my choices right so far?

But there really is no right or wrong choice as between "I analyzed" and "I have analyzed". Either form is grammatically valid, and fully natural. Neither would be misunderstood or thought odd by a fluent reader.

What is probably more important than the choice of past simple or a perfect construction is consistency and parallelism. Having used "I have analyzed" and "I have maintained", I would suggest you use "I have created" The change of tense seems surprising and causes a reader to ask why, and such a reader will not know the reasons for your choices, nor are they self-evident. The difference may seem odd and unsatisfying, and frankly, may cause the application to be rejected.

Any potential employer knows that analysis is a continuing activity, and creation is not. You do not need to give clues to this in the tense used. If you really want to be explicit with something like "I analyzed repeatedly over a period of two years… I created in less than three months" perhaps.

  • Thank you for your answer. So in conclusion you advise me to keep what I wrote at the beginning of my question (all in the present perfect)? And another thing: in the next paragraph I talk about the university and since it is a period that is certainly concluded, I use the past simple. Is it ok this way (current job: present perfect, university: past simple)?
    – LJG
    Sep 6, 2022 at 22:40
  • @LJG Yes that consistent form is my advice. A change of form in another paragraph seems reasonable. There are no fixed or hard rules o sny of this. You could use "I have studied X, I have learned Y, I have worked on Z" for your university experience also. It is a matter of style and judgement.
    – David Siegel
    Sep 6, 2022 at 22:46
  • To be precise, the next paragraph says (short version): My skills are rooted in a solid academic background. I hold both a bachelor's and a master's degree. Additionaly, I spent a semester abroad. I attribute my talent to this education. So some sentences in the present tense and one in the past simple tense. Should I spent become I have spent?
    – LJG
    Sep 7, 2022 at 5:54
  • @LJG Eith would be good grammar. The possible parallism isn't nearly as strong. It is pretty much a toss-up in my view. You might wsnt to consult a resume coach.
    – David Siegel
    Sep 7, 2022 at 14:56
  • As I studied these things, I have spent would imply an immediate connection with the present (which can make sense, if we consider it an integral part of my current education), right? On the other hand, with I spent we mean that that period is definitely over, which is right too. If for you, as a native speaker, both are right, wouldn't even the fact that everything else in the letter is written in the present tense or present perfect tense make a difference?
    – LJG
    Sep 7, 2022 at 19:43

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