Education and Achievements: What to Include on Your Current Resume
For as long as resumes have been required of job applicants, one of the most queried and debated topics amongst job seekers is not only what information to include, but how much. Ask ten different sources, and you’ll get ten different answers, but it’s fairly standard practice to provide some information regarding your education and achievements—insight into some of what would suggest you would be a good candidate for the position. You may be tempted to include every bit of info you can think of, but as you’ll see, being selective about what you include will greatly benefit your job prospects. That said, here are some things pertaining to your education and achievements we think you should (and sometimes shouldn’t) include on your resume.
First, your education isn’t just about the fancy school you went to or the ultra-high GPA you maintained while you were there. Those can certainly impress on a resume, but they aren’t the most important part. Just having persevered in pursuit of bettering yourself (getting an education) is what many employers are looking for—they want to see stick-to-itiveness. After all, having a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree doesn’t magically prepare you for a job you’ve never done at a company you’ve never worked for. That is to say, even if you were a terrible student at a no-name school, you should still include your education info on your resume.
Here are the essentials:
- The name of the school you attended
- The degree you earned
Note: If high school is the highest level of education you’ve completed, you should include it on your resume, but there’s is no need to put information regarding high school if you’ve completed college.
Non-essentials we still suggest:
- Any professional or educational certifications you’ve received.
- Any academic awards or honors you’ve received.
- Professional development: this includes any continuing education classes/courses you’ve taken (including conferences and seminars in which you were involved) and any professional organizations to which you belong.
Every bit of information you choose to include beyond those suggestions should be done strategically and with careful consideration.
Optional info to consider:
- GPA—unless you were any extraordinary student, if the employer doesn’t have a minimum GPA requirement for the position, it’s probably best to omit from your resume. If you’ve been in the workforce and out of school for years, you should exclude your GPA.
- The years you attended school/graduated—unless you need to explain away a gap in your employment history or a lack of a work history altogether, there’s no need to include the years you attended school/graduated—especially if you’re an older job seeker.
- Your major/minor—If your major/minor would in some way give you an edge over another candidate for the job, consider including. Also, if you went to college but didn’t finish, or if you’re currently attending school, listing your major/minor in lieu of a degree could be beneficial. You may want to avoid listing your major/minor if it’s completely unrelated to the field in which you are seeking employment—i.e. your anthropology major probably isn’t going to impress anyone in the world of finance.
Beyond the awards and honors included under the education section, achievements should be noted throughout your resume and not exclusively in a subsection (though a dedicated section for awards and achievements is also fine to include). In fact, the bulk of your achievements should actually be found in your work history. View the info provided in this section as a series of achievements rather than a list of day-to-day responsibilities.
Here are some things you should consider including:
- Any personal achievements with quantifiable supporting data—stating you increased total sales by 30 percent within the first month of employment is much better than a vague statement saying you increased total sales.
- Any team achievements with quantifiable supporting data—the achievements you accomplished on your own are not the only ones that matter. For example: “worked with a team of four to create management software which increased company-wide work efficiency by 50 percent year-over-year.”
- Any related awards—employee of the month, salesman of the year etc…
Essentially, the real key is to include numerical facts and figures within the stated achievements. Like many, you probably don’t have access to much of the statistical information pertaining to your past job performance and execution of your responsibilities. There are some that will say, “just reach out to your old manager, and they’ll be happy to provide this information to you,” but that’s overly optimistic. That said, you shouldn’t make up this data. If you don’t have a quantifiable result for your efforts, the achievement can be related to the scale of a project or the timeframe in which it was completed.
For most of us, writing a resume is a stressful experience and often done at a stressful time (when you need a new job). Use these suggestions to take the guesswork out of what to include regarding education and achievements to make the process just a little easier.