The education section of a professional resume may not get the most attention. It may not take center stage during the review process quite like the experience or summary sections. But most employers are keenly interested in where you went to school, what you studied, and how well you fared. They want to make sure you possess the academic rigor and practical knowledge that can help you succeed on the job. Even if you've been out of school for some time, the education section is still an important part of a professional resume.
If you meet the employer's basic milestones, you'll need to make this clear. And if your academic qualifications help you stand out, you'll want to push them into the spotlight. Here are four moves that can help.
Consider the best placement
If you're an entry level candidate or recent graduate, you can't offer a long list of previous jobs and relevant experiences. (That's okay. Nobody expects this from a candidate at your level.) But because you don't hold much experience, your academic credentials carry more weight. So make sure they appear at the top of the page, just under your summary and above your work history. Remember to include your graduation date.
If you've been out of school and working in your field for decades, place your education at the bottom of the page. Also, assuming you graduated over ten years ago, don't include your graduation date.
Show off your accomplishments
Rules for a professional resume vary for each employer, so don't feel obligated to include information that you know might hurt your chances. For example, if your cumulative GPA was below 3.0, don't share this detail. On the other hand, display it proudly if it's above this.. Give the same treatment to your cum laude status, academic honors, and special awards. Even if you didn't attain any of that, you can still flaunt other important information. Include clubs and activities you enjoyed. It doesn't hurt, but, in some instances, it can help.
If you graduated years ago, most industries won't be interested in your GPA. If it takes up space, delete it. Your work experience should be the focus anyway.
What about projects and portfolios?
Some of your proudest scholarly achievements might not fit neatly into two or three lines of text. You might have trouble trying to fit an art or architecture portfolio, a science project that earned you a scholarship, or a graduate level course that you took as an undergrad into the small space available. If you really want to share an accomplishment that requires some description, condense your description into a single line. If you can't do that, insert a link to your blog, portfolio, or personal website and use that personal space to share as much information as you choose.
Watch out for overstatements
As you post your educational stats, stick to the facts. Don't round up your GPA, and be careful with graduation and completion dates. If you're earning a degree, include the course title and the month, day, and year of your expected completion. Don't claim victories or honors that you haven't earned; these facts are very easy for your reviewers to verify.
For more on how to draft and format a winning education section, explore the tools and tips available at MyPerfectResume.