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Resume Education Section - Essential Information

Updated on February 7, 2010

Your Resume Education Section

Resume Education Section - For The New Grad, Education Is Likely The Strongest Selling Point
Resume Education Section - For The New Grad, Education Is Likely The Strongest Selling Point

Your resume education section... got too much information, or not enough? And where exactly does it belong on the resume? Here's help from a former recruiter.
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Questions I get frequently: Where does the education section belong on a resume? How much information should the section include? Is a quad-core processor running at 2.4 GHz preferable to a dual core at 3 GHz?

Well, two out of the three I can address. The third one makes my head hurt.

Where To Place The Education Section On Your Resume


The placement of your education section is dependent upon the extent and relevance of your experience. New and recent college graduate are usually advised to place the education section near the top of the resume, just beneath the objective (if you elect to include one) and the summary or profile section. This is in keeping with the fact that education is most often the new grad's strongest selling point.

Of course, that's not always the case. If you've been employed for a year or more in a job with particular relevance to your career objective, even if that job took place during your college years, your education section should now take a backseat to the experience section.

If you've been out of college more than three years, your experience section will usually beat out education for prime placement on the resume. The exception would be in those cases where your job(s) for the past three+ years have had little or no relevance to your career goals. And cases where your college major is of particular relevance to that goal.

The curriculum vitae has rules of it's own. In particular, CVs will always lead off with the education section, regardless of experience.

Recent high school graduates will want to mention their HS graduation, but again, experience trumps education. If you've had a job or jobs that relate to your current career objectives, your "experience" or "work history" section will come before education.

How Much Information Belongs In The Education Section?

Some rules of thumb:

  • Recent college grads should go heavy on the details. College name (of course) and graduation year. Degree and major. Include your GPA if it's 3.0 or above (include your major GPA is it's an improvement over the general). Minor area of study? Yes, if relevant to your career objective. Course work? Honors? Yes and yes, especially if your resume is otherwise a desert of information and you need to fill up space.
  • Always omit high school information if you have a college degree.
  • If you have taken some college, but hold no degree, it gets dicey. Recent course work that is particularly relevant to your goals might be worth mentioning. Ditto if you got real close to a degree (i.e. 3 years of a 4-year program) and your work history remains relatively weak. On the other hand, a few courses with no relevance to your job goals, and no degree to boot, probably should be ignored on the resume. You don't want to draw attention to the fact that you lack a degree.
  • Recently completed vocational-technical training? Include that information; school and certification or diploma. If the program was for one year or less, include your high school info.
  • Graduates a few years distant from school should begin paring down the details. This is especially the case as a growing bank of experience begins to outweigh the contribution of educational particulars. Begin leaving off course work, minors, GPA, etc.
  • Include licenses, credentials and certificates if relevant to your career objective. If space allows, use a subheading under "education" to organize these elements. If space is at a premium, make them part of a bulleted list.
  • Write up continuing education, including seminars and such, if relevant to your objective.

The bottom line: educational details – from college majors and degrees, to professional licenses and continuing education – can help drive home your qualifications for employment. The more recent and the more relevant, the better. But actual hands-on experience in your chosen profession generally trumps education, so adjust these resume sections accordingly.
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Most job seekers will write their own resumes, with input from a variety of sources. "That works, but consider using a resume builder to bring it all together," says former recruiter David Alan Carter. "With a good online builder, you can create the multiple resumes you need for a targeted resume campaign, keep them all organized, and track submissions." Carter compares the Web's most popular Resume Builders at the website BestResumeServices.org, reviewing features, spelling out pricing, and giving each a star ranking.

Two books that I feel are particularly helpful to job seekers...

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0: 1,001 Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job
Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0: 1,001 Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job

"Lays out a straightforward and detailed 'plan of attack' for every step of a job search...an indispensable tool for job seekers to land the interview."

-- Gautam Godhwani, CEO, SimplyHired.com

 

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