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Written by Edward Cooke (alias)Edward Cooke (alias)

How to list education on your CV

10 min read
How to list education on your CV
Artwork by:Katya Vakulenko
Regardless of the path you took post-education, your qualifications still have something to teach hiring managers about you. Give yourself every opportunity of securing your ideal role by following these tips. We’ll help you to communicate your education in a jiffy.

Your CV should be full of information that comes together to tell a story of why you are the right person for the job. But you can only do that successfully if your CV is framed in the right way for the hiring manager. Your CV’s education section is an important puzzle piece of that professional story. 

There is an art to listing your education on your CV. If you’re in the market for your first job, doubts about how to master it may be at the forefront of your mind. In fact, statistics show that young people are less confident that they have the right skills and qualifications. So, let’s break down the steps you need to take to tackle this section of your CV and ensure you enter the job market — or continue your professional journey — brimming with self-esteem.

Statistical insight

Facing your future

Only one in three young people think employers are supportive of hiring them, according to the Youth Voice Census 2023 report. That’s a third of young people who could potentially be missing out on job opportunities they could flourish in because their perceptions of the job market are getting in their way. 

 This blog post will cover:

  • Why your CV’s education section matters
  • How long the education section on your CV should be
  • How to format your CV’s education section
  • Where you should include the education section on your CV
  • Mistakes to avoid when writing your CV education section.

Why does the education section of your CV matter?

Whether you’re equipped with work experience or not, what you studied and your grades can still tell employers a lot about how well you’ll fit their organisation. While not every qualification you have was necessarily studied out of choice, the effort you put into it is a reflection of your motivation and determination. 

Completing any qualification shows evidence of transferable soft skills that could help you excel in a range of work sectors. In fact, these soft skills are exactly what potential employers are going to be on the lookout for. 

Listing your education can also go a long way if your academic journey is particularly extensive and, above all, relevant to the job posting. Employers consider various factors when choosing a candidate. Any impressive grades or specific training you have undertaken could go a long way towards giving you a competitive edge. Not listing them would be a wasted opportunity to stand out. 

Statistical insight

The non-graduate job market is currently booming, and higher education is no longer necessarily the gatekeeper of opportunities according to the Financial Times. They reported a 90% increase in job listings that do not require a degree between 2021 and 2022.

How long should your CV’s education section be?

When it comes to how far back your CV should go, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. You’ll have to decide how tightly to format your CV’s education section, depending on how much formal training or how many formal qualifications you’ve undertaken. 

Our rule of thumb is that if you have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, it’s no longer necessary to list your secondary school education, such as your GCSEs or A levels. 

If you decide not to pursue higher education, then fill your CV education section with your qualifications from secondary school and any additional training you have completed. You can be more selective if you go on to do additional training in the future. But if your highest qualifications are GCSEs, A levels, or BTECs, then the most important thing is to get them down on the page. The hiring manager will be most interested to see that you can apply yourself!

How to format your CV education section

Subheadings in your CV’s education section are an ideal way to format your education and make it easy for the hiring manager to skim. Create one subheading for each qualification, or group of qualifications in the case of examinations like GCSEs or A Levels. 

These subheadings will create a clear list of your previous qualifications within your education section. Remember to include the following information:  

  • Name of qualification
  • Name of the institution you studied at
  • Dates attended
  • Location on the institution

When it comes to listing the dates of your qualifications, adding the month and year you started and finished in is sufficient. For qualifications that you have yet to complete, you can list the latter date as “present”. 

Example

Bachelor of Arts  in English Literature, University of Surrey, Surrey
October 2022 - Present

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When listing your secondary school and college certifications such as GSCEs, A Levels, or equivalent, remember that space is important and finite on your CV. You want to keep everything as concise as possible. Consider listing qualifications such as these in the following format:

Example

9 GCSEs grade 9–6, St Joseph’s High School, Bristol
September 2015 - June 2022

  • Mathematics (8)
  • English Language (9)
  • Triple Science (8)
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Expert tip

You can make use of bullet points underneath the corresponding qualification subheading in your CV’s education section. This is a great way to mention extra details that make you a particularly impressive or relevant candidate. 

Here are some points you can consider adding in the bullet points:

  • Specific modules you studied.
  • Impressive grades you achieved.
  • Accolades or prizes you were awarded.
  • Extracurricular activities you participated in.

Where you should list your education on your CV 

Deciding where to include your CV section depends on which CV format you have chosen. The classic approach is the reverse chronological format. This choice places your employment history at the top of your CV and then your education section will follow. 

The reverse chronological format draws the reader’s focus to your previous experience, so it may not be appropriate if you are a current student or recent graduate. If you’re concerned that your work experience is lacking, then a different CV format could work in your favour. 

One alternate CV format is the functional CV — also known as a skills-based CV —  which focuses on your skills and even your education. Be sure to look for value in everything you’ve studied and include it in your list. 

Mistakes to avoid when writing your CV education section

False or misleading information 

In this day and age, it’s not too hard to discover whether somebody has lied or exaggerated their skills and qualifications. If you’re discovered to be listing false information, you run the risk of not only missing out on a job opportunity, but also earning a reputation as being untrustworthy. Word can spread fast among companies.

Typos or errors 

This is the only shot you have at impressing a hiring manager to land an interview, so don’t miss it because of something a quick proofread could have prevented. The level of effort you put into your CV writing will be evident. 

A candidate who hasn’t bothered to check their education section for typos or mistakes will come across as lazy or simply someone who lacks an eye for detail. After all, attention to detail is an in-demand soft skill for many roles.

Confusing format

Your aim is to have a CV that is well-organised and easy to navigate. Most hiring managers will be expecting a reverse chronological CV. But there are alternatives, such as the functional CV format. Ultimately you must present a CV that follows a recognised structure. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel!

Missing or outdated information 

Your CV needs to be updated regularly. The education section is no exception! You may choose to include some qualifications on certain versions of your CV and not on others. It all depends on the job you’re applying to. 

Don’t forget to consider certifications or training that could be relevant, too. If you’ve forgotten to list a qualification that would tick a necessary box for the hiring manager, then you probably won’t get the opportunity to explain yourself in an interview. 

Too much detail

If you’ve arrived at the point in which you’re struggling to fit all of your education on the page — congratulations! The chances are that you stand a great chance at getting that role you have your sights set on. However, it also means it’s time to be selective and list only the most recent and relevant qualifications. 

Don’t let your pride in your education take up too much space on your CV. There should be a balance between all of your CV sections. 

Illegible text

If you’re thinking of making your font smaller to make room for more qualifications in your education section, think again. Keeping your CV reader-friendly in content and design should be your priority at all times. Hiring managers only have so much time to look through the CVs of potential applicants, and they won’t appreciate a CV that makes their job harder.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your overall goal is to list your education with your target job in mind. If you have a lot of qualifications, choose the most relevant.
  2. How you use the space on your CV is incredibly important. Format your education section so that you make the most of it.
  3. Every section of your CV has a part to play. Don’t miss out on opportunities by undervaluing the role of your education!
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