Education Goes Last on a Professional or Executive Resume
I will be the first one to tell you that when a prospective client sends me a professional or executive resume to review, the first thing I look at is whether the individual has attended college. This review gives me the chance to evaluate a) how much education they have strictly by the numbers, and b) how their education matches with their work experience. The reason I do this in this way is that recruiters read professional or executive resumes the same way.
However, most hiring managers do not read professional or executive resumes this way. In fact, they read professional or executive resumes the same way they read anything else from top to bottom. They start with the headline, they look at a candidate’s experience, and start to form an opinion about whether the person has the right experience and expertise to handle the proposed job’s tasks well. Eventually, they will look at the person’s education and technical credentials, as these may be critical to the job candidate’s ability to perform the job.
So where does education go? First–or last?
First, If You Are a Recent College Graduate
If you recently graduated from college, and the only work experience you have in your life were typical high school and college jobs, please do put your education first on your professional professional or executive resume. It’s safe to say that most new graduates do not have professional experience to speak of. What they do have going for them, however, is there college educations. Thus, they should highlight their coursework, their good grades, their academic honors, and anything else that highlights the level of work they achieved were experienced in college. Additionally, recent college graduates should include volunteer experience and extracurricular activities they participated in during their college years. Remember, work is work, even if it is not paid work. It is still valuable and can still enhance a recent graduate’s professional professional or executive resume.
First, If You Are a Recent Graduate School Graduate
I have two graduate degrees (an MBA and a Master of Arts), which I earned at two different points in my career for two different purposes. When I completed those degrees, I highlighted them first. New graduates with graduate-level degrees need to promote their enhanced education first four positions that relate to the type of degree they have earned. This is especially true if the new degree represents a transition to a new career or industry. Like new college graduate, new graduates with Masters-level or doctoral-level degrees need to promote their academic successes first on their professional professional or executive resumes.
Last, If Your Degree Is Older than One Year
This brings me to my response to the third point in Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me.” Professionals and executives with a fair amount of work experience should not lead their professional or executive professional or executive resumes with education or training. Rather, they should start the meat of their professional or executive professional or executive resumes with the most recent or the most relevant position they have held in relation to the job they are seeking. Their accomplishments and tryouts are what will sell them to hiring managers and recruiters alike, not their education. A college degree or graduate degree might be a filter for candidates’ professional or executive professional or executive resumes, of course both because the position might require such a degree, or because there simply are too many applicants for a recruiter or hiring manager to Wade through. So candidates should include this information but they should include it on the bottom of the last page of the professional or executive professional or executive resume.
Learn why your executive resume isn’t making the cut: Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me”