Your resume is the first impression you make in the job application process, and your academic background is one of the key components hiring staff consider when scanning your resume. Filling it out correctly matters.

Whether you’re applying in the Japanese style, or a Western one, consider carefully how best to emphasise your achievements at school, college, or university.

Japanese standardised job applications: the rirekisho

Japanese resumes are a standardised document, so it’s often simply a matter of filling out the application with your educational qualifications. You can find these documents available at convenience stores for a small fee, called a rirekisho (履歴書). You will find the relevant section on the first page as part of the second section under the heading 学歴・職歴. This is dedicated to both your academic background and work history.

When filling out this section of the form, you should section your education from your work history using the headings 学歴 (education) and 職歴 (work history) in the middle of a new line in order to begin your list.

Writing in chronological order, list your qualifications from oldest to newest. It’s generally acceptable to list your final two degrees, including high school if you finished with a bachelor’s degree, however if you have a doctorate, you should list all your degrees preceding it. You should include the year you started and the year you finished on a separate line, as well as any majors you’ve completed.

End this subsection of your resume with a blank line before beginning to list your work history.

Western job applications: the resume

Where Japanese documents are standardised, Western job applications are more flexible, and place less emphasis on education. It’s often mentioned after professional experience, and is sometimes included with other additional courses and certifications.

Generally, degrees are listed in reverse chronological order; that is, with your most recent degree listed first. Often high school is not included, unless it is particularly well regarded or if you have a particular reason for including it, such as if you won awards or did particularly well on your final exams.

Begin this section of your resume with the subheading ‘Education.’ From here, list your most recent degree with your major, the full name of your award, the month and year you began and graduated. If you are still studying, it’s acceptable to list the month and year you began, and then end with ‘present,’ (for example, 2019 - present). Finally, include the name of the university you attended.

Because Western resumes are generally more flexible than the Japanese rirekisho, you can also include other details that might bolster your application: awards or scholarships you’ve won, your GPA if strong, minors you completed, extracurricular activities you participated in, or professional development experiences you’ve taken part it. Add these under their own subheading in order to better organise your document.

Remember, regardless of the format in which you are required to submit your application, getting these details correct is important; they are easy to verify, and mistakes can be an easy way to miss out on an interview, so be sure to proofread once complete.

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