Does Your Resume Education Section Make the Grade?

By Robert Half October 11, 2018 at 11:30am

When writing a resume, many job seekers focus primarily on their professional summary and work experience. The education section too often becomes an afterthought. And that’s a problem. Every section — and word — of your resume matters.

The ABCs of writing and formatting your academic credentials

  • Make it clear and concise. Include the institution you attended, the degree you earned, and the month and year you graduated. If you have a college degree, omit any information about your high school education.
  • Don’t be average. Only include your grade-point average if it’s truly impressive and you’re a recent graduate.
  • Achieve resume greatness. Any scholastic achievements and awards listed must truly be noteworthy.
  • Be a class act. Don’t list relevant courses unless you lack work experience.
  • Keep it movin’. The prominence of the education section of your resume relates to where you are in your career. If you’re a recent graduate, for example, it makes sense to place education-related information near the top of the document. But as your work history develops, details about your academic career should move toward the bottom as you emphasize your skills and experience.
  • Proofread carefully. Nothing derails your chances quicker than a resume typo. In fact, you’d be surprised at how many applicants misspell their alma mater!

Two resume education section samples

For a job seeker who has been in the workforce, their resume education section might be as simple as this:

XYZ University, Cincinnati, OH
Bachelor of Arts in English, May 2012

For a soon-to-be-graduate seeking an entry-level role, however, the resume education section could look something like this:

ABC College, Philadelphia, PA
Candidate for Bachelor of Arts in Economics, May 2018
GPA: 3.8
Dean’s List: 2016-2018
Relevant coursework: Advanced Financial Accounting and Reporting, Income Tax For Corporations, Cost Accounting and Business Management

What not to do

Not every job seeker’s education section makes the grade. In fact, goofs on this part of the resume are quite common. If you’re looking for a laugh, check out these mistakes from real-life resumes — dubbed “Resumania™” by our founder — that our company has collected over the years:

“EDUCATION: GPA was 94 percent.”

“EDUCATION: I was a four-sport high school athlete, although graduation was 20 years ago.”

“EDUCATION: Enough to get the job.”

“EDUCATION: I won an award for an essay in first grade and got my picture taken with the principal. That was a big win. My parents took me for ice cream.”

“EDUCATION: Perused degrees in human resources.”

“EDUCATION: Some college.”

“EDUCATION: Graduate in 3010.”

“EDUCATION: In junior high, I wrote and directed a play based on Greek mythology.”

“EDUCATION: Attended useless diploma mill.”

Your resume education section can be straightforward, but it’s an area where (as you’ve seen above) many job seekers make unforced errors. Writing tight, avoiding irrelevant information and editing carefully will help make sure your resume measures up.

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