Listing Educational Qualifications on Your Resume

Whether you’ve graduated from a prestigious school, switched colleges 12 times during a 4-year degree program or left your thesis incomplete due to some reason, you need to be aware of some basic dos and don’ts for listing such information on your resume.

The goal is to get what you want – the dream job you want here in Australia and while you can be creative on some occasions, it is important to have a strategic angle to maximise your chances of being noticed by Australian Recruiters. Read our tips on listing educational qualifications on your Resume below.

Where Should You Put Education on your Resume?

So first things first, where should you physically locate the education information on your resume? The answer to this question is usually linked to the amount of experience you have.

In most cases, resumes open with the job experience section as it’s more relevant and important to recruiters seeking candidates. With that said, there is nothing wrong with breaking this rule if your education is much more impressive than your experience or if you’re a student or recent graduate and have little experience.

As a general guideline. If you have more than a year of work experience, your education should come after your employment history. Otherwise, stick it up top!

What to Include in Your Resume Education Section

When it comes to your resume education section, don’t go overboard but ensure you pull out the key information which may be of interest to recruiters and hiring managers.

  • Your most recent degree (or education in progress)
  • The name of your school
  • Location of your school
  • Dates attended and graduation date (or expected graduation date)
  • Your field of study and degree major
  • Any academic honours, relevant coursework or making dean’s list
  • Relevant extracurricular activities, study abroad programs, and accolades
Education section resume format
Your education likely didn’t come easy to you so use it as an opportunity to position yourself ahead of other candidates.

Do NOT Lie – If Unflattering Then Tweak to Make it Positive 

While recognising that it’s not unnatural to try and disguise something you are not happy about when it comes to the education in your resume. Do not lie! If you feel that you may be hurt due to an incomplete degree, consider presenting the information differently (see below for more on presenting incomplete degrees).

Graduation Dates are Important Only If You Graduated Recently

Unless you are a fresh graduate or someone with 1-4 years of work experience, it is advisable not to mention dates on which you completed various degrees, diplomas etc. An interviewer is just interested in learning about the educational qualifications that you have. In fact, mentioning dates on your resume can even work against you if it’s been decades since you left grad school.

Just the Education Please

You need not mention various institutions you switched to before you finally graduate. The person reviewing your resume is interested only in the end result and is not looking for all that information.

Qualifications that Matter the Most Should Come First On Your Resume

As a standard rule, you should first list the advanced degrees on your resume followed by other certifications, diplomas and course programs. This reverse chronological order of listing educational qualifications on the resume works fine, except when you’re applying for a job that’s unrelated to the most advanced degree you have acquired. For example, if you have a Master’s degree in Psychology and are applying for a programmer’s position, you should list your diploma in the related field on the top.

How To List an unfinished Degree on your Resume

Even if you didn’t complete your degree. The months (or sometimes years) you may have spent undertaking your degree is often still worth mentioning. It also helps confirm to recruiters that you had the necessary high school qualifications to help you qualify for the intake for the degree in the first place.

For many Australian recruiters, this can be quite key. Many may not be familiar with the local school exam systems so this can be particularly useful.

Let the Recruiter Know if the Degree has not been formally completed

If a thesis required for the fulfilment of the award of degree stands incomplete, you should go ahead and list it on your resume. The reviewer is not going to judge you the ‘wrong’ way if you, instead of using a deceptive approach, mention the fact that you’re a candidate for a degree program (Masters in Marketing, for example) and your thesis at the moment is in the final stages of completion (mention a date).

Also, look to capture how many points you earned towards your degree. List your school’s name, followed by your start and end dates, so it’s clear you’re no longer enrolled. Then write how many credits you earned towards your chosen degree. Put your high school education below it.

Unfinished Degree on Resume Examples

With credits highlighted

Oxford University, Oxford, England
20010-2012 – Completed 32 credits towards BA in Financial Management

Or simply flagging as in progress:

BA in English Literature in Progress
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY

The word ‘Honors’ Appeals More than Your GPA

Mentioning the fact that you were in an Honors program at a grad school or university can be more advantageous than listing your GPA, especially if it’s not that good!

It is usually advisable to list your education in the last portion of your resume. However, if you hold some excellent degrees or graduated from a prestigious grad school – you can make an exception and list it on the top of your resume.

Summary

Given that we all have different experiences and backgrounds there are no hard and fast rules about how to add education to your resume:

With that said, your education likely didn’t come easy to you and you spent many years to attain it so use the education section on your resume as an opportunity to position yourself ahead of the rest of the candidates seeking the same employment opportunities as you!

Do you have any other suggestions or questions about how to put your educational background on a resume?

Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!