The education section of your resume may not be the flashiest, the longest, or even the most important part of your profile, but the way you present this short section can have a surprisingly powerful effect over the success of your application. As you draft these lines, you'll need to make a few decisions based on your personal goals, and you'll need to watch out for some critical mistakes that can seriously undermine your message.
Bottom Versus Top
If you don't have a long history of work experience and your professional track record seems a little thin, place your education section at the top of the page. Show off your academic accomplishments proudly, especially if these accomplishments represent a disproportionately large slice of your adult life. Whatever you do, don't bury your educational credentials below the center line of your document.
If your work history is long and impressive, do the opposite. After you've conquered the entry-level position, earned a few promotions, handled some challenging projects, and started your long climb up the ladder, your education section should take a back seat to your more noteworthy—and recent—accomplishments. Positioning your education section in the wrong place can shift reader attention in the wrong direction.
Including Your GPA
Again, if you're a recent graduate and your record consists of mostly academic accomplishments and very few professional ones, make the most of your classroom victories. This means proudly showing off your GPA (as long as it's higher than 3.0). But after a few years go by, you'll need to delete this number. Including your GPA in your resume after you've been working for a few years can send the wrong message. Since the academic landscape and the working world come with different definitions of "success", make it clear that you've fully transitioned away from the first and into the second.
It should go without saying, but never be tempted to misstate, exaggerate, or lie about any of your academic credentials. This includes your grades, cum laude status, graduation status, course of study, or the name of your institution. Unlike some aspects of your work history, your education details are very easy for employers to confirm with a simple phone call. Don't put yourself in an awkward position.
Your education section should include associates, bachelors, masters, and post-graduate degrees from any institution of higher learning that you've attended. You can also include your high school diploma if you didn't continue your education beyond that point. But many candidates don't realize that they can—and should—include other forms of training in this section as well. If you're certified in your field, you've passed a state licensing exam, or you've taken and passed courses in anything from Toastmasters to Six Sigma, go ahead and include this in your education section. These details may otherwise go unnoticed, which can mean missed opportunities to show off.
For more on how to make the most of your experience and credentials both inside and outside of the classroom, rely on the resume and job search tools at MyPerfectResume.