Should I include education on my CV?

The choice to include none, some or all of your education on a CV depends largely on the role and the amount of experience you hold. Getting this part right could make a huge difference to your chances of getting an interview, so it’s essential you are well informed before you make a choice.

To help you decide we’ve created a guide below which will cover three different scenarios. When it comes to the education section of your CV, here’s what to include if:

You are a recent school leaver

If you’ve recently left school, college or university you are now officially a job seeker. All your hard work and preparation has brought you to this point in your life. The scary and exciting prospect of writing a CV and attending interviews has finally arrived. So how important is your education at this stage?

The simple and obvious answer is – very! With little to no work experience you will need to create a very smart CV that focuses upon your educational achievements and the soft skills you’ve developed so far. These soft skills should be demonstrated on your CV so the employer can see you are ready for work.

“An employer is not only looking at what you have done but what you can do. You have to convince them that you are capable of taking on the job.” – Scape

A big mistake most school leavers make is assuming they don’t have a lot to show on their CV. This just isn’t true, and if you were considering listing your subjects and grades without anything else, you’d be devaluing your achievements.

You might think that an employer is not interested in what you did to achieve those grades, but you’d be very wrong. When advertising for an entry level position the employer is well aware of the types of candidates who will apply. Naturally they will receive a high volume of CVs from school leavers looking for their very first position. As such, the employer will not be expecting a huge list of previous job titles (if any at all), and will be looking to see what has been achieved and learned so far from an academic perspective.

To write an effective CV as a school leaver you will need to pay close attention to the soft skills the role would require. If communication is very important, you could highlight a particular school project or assignment which required good communication skills – a class presentation for example. When written communication is important you may decide to attach an example of your work. IT skills can also be demonstrated by providing links on your CV.

“Participating in any societies or associations is highly regarded on student CVs because it demonstrates willingness, passion and interest. ” – Online CV

Make a list of all the soft skills you deem are important for the role and then look to prove you have these skills via your education section. The employer needs to see that you are ready for a working environment even though you have very little work experience.

If you’re worried about the level of your grades and how the employer will react when reading your CV – then don’t! If you feel the time is right to leave education behind and begin a career, you should focus upon your achievements and what you have to offer.

You don’t always have to include all of the subjects if you don’t feel they will add value. If you are applying for a customer service role and you received a ‘D’ in History – does that really need to be on your CV?

For a guide to writing a school leaver’s CV template (complete with downloadable free template) click here.

You have a small amount of experience

If you left education a few years ago and already have a small but good amount of work experience, you are in a great position to continue to advance in your career. The emphasis on your education may now be less at this stage, but it will depend on the role and career you are looking to forge.

Unlike the recent school leaver section above, you may not need to search through each subject to demonstrate your soft skills and achievements. You may already have enough experience that clearly shows you are capable. However, take note of what the employer is expecting to see on a CV based on the job advert. If work experience is clearly important or even mandatory, we would advise writing a CV that focuses heavily on any relevant experience you have.

Your CV always needs to be tailored to the role so the employer can quickly see you are a worthy candidate. To better achieve this you could consider using both your education and your current work history to provide everything they require.

You have an extensive career portfolio

With over a decade of work history on your CV it will likely mean that your education takes a backseat, and in some cases may not be needed at all. Certain roles may require a qualification or two which means they should be listed on your CV. The name of the institute, the qualification and the grade achieved may be enough.

For a role that doesn’t specifically request a qualification you could consider leaving your education off altogether. However, we would always recommend including any degrees from university and high grades from school or college. No matter how irrelevant those subjects may appear, the employer will be keen to see your outstanding achievements. An ‘A’ in maths demonstrates your learning ability to a high level. This would be important when learning new skills during training in the initial stages.

With such an extensive amount of work experience you will mainly be focusing in this area. However, be careful not to list every single task for all of your jobs as some of them could be irrelevant to the employer.

Always expand upon the most relevant and recent roles so the employer can see how you will directly benefit them if hired. The hiring manager is not interested in reading your entire work history, and instead wants you to cherry pick all the best parts. If you feel there are aspects of your education which would also demonstrate a transferable skill, then expand upon this too. However, it’s likely that you will have everything you need under your employment section.

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