Every section of your resume is important, and each section provides valuable information that can make a break a hiring decision, depending on the unique needs and preferences of each reviewer. Your education section, for example, may be overlooked by some employers—the ones who don’t care about your degree credentials as long as you can handle the requirements of the job. But other employers will review this section first, and they’ll study it thoroughly before they take a single glance at your work history or special skills.
So make sure your education section is ready for the spotlight. And make sure your certifications and credentials attract all the attention they deserve. Keep these tips in mind.
DO start with your most recent degree.
Whether it’s a Bachelors, Masters, PhD, MA, JD, MFA, or MBA, your most recent degree should be the first entry in your education section. Lead with this one, follow with the one you earned just prior, and so on. I you have an advanced degree, don’t make your employers search through several lines of text to discover this fact. Place it at the top.
DO keep your capitalizations consistent and correct.
This can be a bit tedious, but make sure your capitalizations and abbreviations are accurate. Did you attend The University of Virginia or the University of Virginia? (Hint: it’s the first one). Bachelors and Masters should be capitalized. Your area of study should be capitalized if it’s a formal title (as in, the Johnson B. Tanner Respiratory Therapy Program).
DON’T include your high school diploma if you continued your education after this point.
If you attended a college, university, or trade program, there’s no need to list your high school diploma. If you completed your education after high school, feel free to include your diploma and your GPA (if you’re proud of it).
DON’T include your GPA if you graduated more than two years ago.
Even if you earned a 4.0, including your GPA can suggest that you’re clinging to this old accomplishment because you lack professional experience. Include this number if it makes you proud and you don’t yet have much of a working track record. Otherwise, delete it.
DO list each of your licenses and certifications after your formal degree credentials.
List each certification followed by the date on which you completed this training. If you aren’t sure about the relevance of a specific certification, err on the side of caution and list it anyway. Let your reviewers decide how much it matters to them.
DO include all programs and courses in which you’re enrolled.
Even if you haven’t yet finished a training program, a degree, or a certification course, list it anyway. Follow the entry with an “expected completion” date.
DO keep one eye on your use of keywords.
Read the job post carefully. If these employers specifically request a degree in “Finance, accounting, or a related field”, and you studied “financial advisory services”, make sure you work the word “finance” into your education section somehow. Try including the word in a brief description of your coursework. If this keyword shows up in your resume at least once, you’ll increase your odds of making it out of a database and into the hands of a human reviewer.
Visit LiveCareer for specific tips and tools that can help you grab your reviewer’s attention and make the most of your hard earned-credentials.