Whilst the employment section can be presented in a pretty standard way in your CV, the same cannot be said for the education section. This is the section of the CV that varies most according to individual circumstances. There are a number of factors that dictate how much detail you should include in your education section, and indeed where it appears in the overall sequence.
The graduate CV
As a graduate, if you fail to sufficiently emphasise your degree in your CV, you are missing a big opportunity to sell yourself. Your degree is a key selling point, especially in cases where you have little or no work experience in the field that you are targeting. Therefore, emphasise the degree as much as possible.
You may have mentioned the fact that you are a graduate in your opening paragraph (the profile or objective that serves as an introduction to your CV). It then makes sense to give priority to your degree by ensuring that your education section is presented BEFORE your employment. In a graduate CV, it would be expected to appear on the first page.
You can give your degree more prominence by adding as much information as possible. For example, there will be a list of subjects or modules that you can insert to provide some information about the course contents. Hint: don’t list them down the page – it will take too much space. Rather, split the modules into 1st, 2nd and Final Year, and present each one as a bulleted sentence. Don’t forget to add bullets to include your dissertation, or any special projects or assignments that were part of your studies. Keep the bullets to a single sentence. Also, add the grade or predicted grade in brackets after the degree title.
Lastly, when listing A Levels/GCSEs employers may find it helpful if you include the grades.
The non-graduate CV
Conversely, if you have already accumulated a fair amount of experience in your chosen field, your employment history is going to be the main point of interest to potential employers. In this case, your education section will be best placed AFTER your employment in the CV. This is particularly relevant if you have had a long career and your education was quite a while ago. In these circumstances, it is likely that the employer may not place so much emphasis on your education. A brief list of your qualifications, institutions attended and dates, from degree level onwards, should be sufficient. There is no need to include A Levels/GCSEs.
Other things to include in the education section
Any other qualifications you have, including short courses or certifications, are always worth listing. This can include both vocational training, and on the job training, as well as incidental training such as First Aid courses, language courses, etc. Remember to include dates (month and year), if possible.
Next time, we will look at overall presentation and effective ways of formatting your CV.
Peter Panayotou is the Founder and Senior Consultant at The Write Stuff