When it comes to writing your resume, your education is often cited as essential. However, the strategy to use when including your education will differ depending on the personal characteristics of your job application. You should keep in mind one thing: impact. If your education section is not making an impact, it’s doing you no favours. See below how to make an impact no matter what part of your career you’re in with an educations section.
What should my education section look like?
The objective and impact of your education section will differ depending on your circumstance. The detail required within your education section as a high-school student will be very different to when you’re a working professional with 10+ years of experience.
I’ve broken things down into four simple questions: what, where, how, and why. What should be included, where your education section should go, how do you describe things, and why this will work to your advantage.
Education Section As a High-School Student
The name of your school, the year you started at your school, and a brief description of classes and/or extra-curricular activities you’re involved in. It’s no harm to include your GPA, too.
This depends on how much working experience you have. In general, your education section should be at the top of your resume, just under your resume header.
When describing classes you’ve taken, tailor them to the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a role in retail and have taken classes in Business and Math, these would be particularly relevant. Languages classes would be relevant here, too. You can mention your individual grades in these classes. When it comes to extracurricular activities you’re involved in, describe what you did, rather than what it was. For example, planted 300 trees as part of the environmental club. Simply listing that you’re a member of many clubs doesn’t mean very much.
Placing your education section near the top (beginning) of your resume is important as its one of the only formal records of work you have done. This allows hiring managers to see your ability to perform real-world tasks and to pick up new skills.
Example Education Section for A High School Student Resume
Education Section as a College Student and Recent Graduate
Your university, the title of your degree, your GPA, any relevant courses you have taken or are taking, and the period of your studies.
If you have a couple years of work experience, you can place your education after that. Unless you’re applying to a position in the field you got a degree in. Otherwise, you can include your education prominently near the top of your resume. If you graduated more than 3 years ago, this is not the best choice, however. Consider separating extra-curricular activities into a volunteering section as college extracurriculars tend to include more of a dedication and skill-set than high-school equivalents.
Much like in a first job resume, tailor any classes you’ve taken to the position you’re applying to. Giving insight into any software packages or skills you’ve developed over the course of your degree as a current student is also helpful here. As a recent graduate, you should include your final grade and any information on your thesis or dissertation.
Your education is your base. Showing the recruiter where you have developed your academic skills allows them to judge your theoretical framework and get a peek into the areas you know best. Recruiters won’t expect you to know the ins-and-outs of practical experience in a certain field, they simply want to know you’re starting with an understanding, and not from scratch.
Example Education Section as a College Student and Recent Graduate
Education Section as An Experienced Professional
The university you studied at, the title of your degree, and your GPA (if it is high).
As an experienced professional, your education takes less prominence. You can include it towards the end of your resume – but definitely after your previous experience.
In general, you won’t need to include classes you’ve taken in your education section. Unless you’ve only recently obtained your degree in a new area.
If you’ve built your base and have been working in your field for a number of years. The recruiter doesn’t need to check your education to see if you have an ability in the area – your previous experience does this for you. Your education section completes the story of your career and gives insight into who you are more than it does prove your potential impact.
Example Education Section as An Experienced Professional
General Tips for Your Education Section
- If listing a number of degrees, do so in reverse-chronological order
- Always be specific – if you’re applying to a job in marketing and have a degree in sales and marketing, your marketing degree should be given preference
- Don’t lie about your grades or completion of a degree, this is easily checked
- You can include your education even if you haven’t completed the degree, either state the number of credits you’ve completed or simply when you expect to graduate
Perfecting the education section on your resume
Recruiters look to your education to reference your ability to pick-up new skills, meet deadlines, and apply yourself to new challenges. The importance of your education specifically changes as you progress throughout your career. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to take your education off to cut down on resume length. Applying general tips such as being specific in the information you give helps increase the impact your education section has too.
Tip: Struggling with how to convey your informal education to employers? Check out our post!