Must I include my education on my CV?

The question of whether or not you should include your education on your CV depends on a lot of factors. A school leaver won’t have any notable work experience, if any at all, so including education is a must. But someone with only basic qualifications who has been in work for many years may be able to bypass the section altogether.

The decision to exclude your education from your CV is a big one, and you have to get it right if you want to stand a chance of landing an interview. To help you decide, here are some considerations.

“It’s convention to include your education on your CV, otherwise it could be misinterpreted as you hiding the fact that you have no education at all.”- Daniel, Thinkful

A school leaver should…

…include their education on their CV. This is an absolute must, and with little to no work experience, focusing upon the grades achieved is going to be the main talking points of the CV. If the school leaver has some work experience, maybe from a work placement whilst at school or voluntary work from the weekend, this should also be included in a work experience section.

A big worry for the recent school leaver is that they don’t have a lot of material to complete a full two page CV, but this just isn’t true. For many years they’ve been studying, completing projects, writing essays, taking part in group activities, conducting presentations, and much more. A school leaver should be proud of what they’ve accomplished so far, and use those achievements to write a great CV. Talking about the projects they’ve completed and the soft skills they’ve learned is an essential part of their CV.

An employer will be well aware of the types of CVs which they will receive when advertising an entry level position, so they will understand the lack of work experience and instead will look to see how well the CV has been written, how the candidate has presented their CV, and the grades they’ve achieved.

A school leaver should not only focus heavily on their education but should also highlight the soft skills they’ve picked up. A soft skill can be anything from good communication skills to organisation; from project management to punctuality and attendance. Examples are key here – don’t just tell, show.

You’ve recently left college or university, so you should…

…include your education on your CV. Again, similar to a secondary school leaver you should focus upon your grades and achievements to date. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t working in a paid role, and academic work plays a very important part to an employer looking to hire for an entry level position.

Your grades from secondary school as well as your college/university degree should be included on your CV, stating the name of the institution, the grade you achieved and the date you attended. But you should not just leave it at that, otherwise you are going to have a very bare CV.

Look back at what you worked upon and achieved during your time in education, and even consider attaching some of your best work. If you have anything online that can easily be accessed, consider including a link to your school projects. You could also consider emailing or stapling some work to your application to showcase your skills.

What skills and grades does the job advert request? You should always tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for, and when it comes to highlighting your education and soft skills you should take note of what they are requesting. Again, with little to no work experience you should look back at your projects and select the ones that closely match and demonstrate the skills that are being requested. Again, the key point here is to show, not just tell. For example, is the employer looking for someone with great communication skills? On your CV you should go into more detail about a presentation you had to give, or a team project you were in charge of.

An employer may state that a certain GCSE grade in Maths and English is required – usually a grade C or above. A college degree may be vital for a nursery care worker for instance – possibly a GNVQ or BTEC. Assuming you’ve achieved the expected qualifications you should highlight this on your CV and go into more detail – again, making sure you follow the job advert and tailor it to their requests.

You’ve been working for a couple of years, so you should…

…include both your education and employment history on your CV. So you’ve now gotten a few years of actual work experience in the bag – fantastic! You’re now well on your way to being able to write a much more comprehensive CV which will include both your education and your work history.

The emphasis can now shift more towards the work experience you’ve gained so far, listing all the tasks and responsibilities. But that shouldn’t be all you include on your CV…

A great way to present your work experience is to not just list the daily tasks, but to also provide actual stats and figures to show how well you performed. Generated revenue, sales figures, idea generation, problem solving, and customer service excellence – are all fantastic ways to demonstrate your outstanding performance in a working environment.

“Don’t fill the page with a list of qualifications. For example, if you have a degree you will not always need to enter all your GCSEs. (Unless the job requires you to have certain GCSE subjects such as Maths, English or Science).” – Careers Wales

You’ve been working for decades, you should include…

Someone that has been working for many years may not need to include their education at all on their CV. However, this will entirely come down to the role and whether or not a qualification is mandatory.

Some jobs are only available to individuals with specific qualifications, whilst some jobs don’t require a qualification but are favourable – leaving certain roles that don’t require qualifications at all.

If a qualification is required, then you most likely don’t really need to read on any further. Include it on your CV and highlight anything relevant to the role and ensure the hiring manager is well aware that you tick all the boxes.

If the job advert doesn’t state that a qualification is required but you do have one or more, then it’s always a good idea to still include them. You may decide not to go into too much detail – putting more effort into presenting your lengthy work experience.

A role that doesn’t require a qualification at all doesn’t mean to say that you still don’t include any college or university degrees. It just means that the main focus is upon the employment history, and demonstrating to the employer that you have the right experience which can be instantly carried on over to the new role.

“For some people work experience is more valuable than academic achievements – and this could be for many reasons. If your grades were not very good in school and since you’ve left you’ve been working for a number of years, then when it comes to your CV you probably want to focus heavily on your work experience and either not include any GCSEs, summarise your achievements (e.g. ‘9 GCSES) or only include your best grades.” – Martin Carline, CV Template Master

Your school grades were average, you should include…

When it comes to deciding upon whether or not to include GCSE and A-level grades, this could come down to how well you did. If you achieved average or poor grades at this level, it may be detrimental to your CV if you include them.

With such a huge amount of work experience, this should be your main focus. When applying for a job that requires no specific qualification, there is no need to present the employer with average grades and distract them from what you can now do.

Your school grades from decades ago have no bearing on what you are now capable of. Even if you achieved high grades at GCSE and A-level, you may not need to include them unless you really want to show off.

TIP : Never include dates on education and certifications that are older than 15 years. – Rachel Gillett and Allana Akhtar, Business Insider

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