Job Search Toolkit: Résumés - Your Story on Paper (Part 4)

The "Education" section of the résumé oftentimes is overlooked as a necessary placeholder to list colleges and degrees.  Done correctly, the Education section can elevate your résumé to the must-interview list, regardless of where you attended school.

During your time in school as well as up to five years post-graduation, your education section plays an important role in telling your story beyond listing where you went to school and what degree(s) you earned.  Here's why: employers look for people's behaviors, as past behavior is a great predictor of future success.  Undergraduate and graduate education is a great opportunity to demonstrate the behaviors that potential employers seek, and it's easy to make the connections.  For example...

  • A high GPA probably means that you're a hard worker who prepared for classes and exams.
  • Scholarships mean that you excelled in a particular area, and that you had the drive and determination to succeed in a competitive arena (sports, academics, etc).
  • Awards are similar to scholarships; you excelled at something and competed to win against a number of other qualified candidates.
  • Leadership and elected positions mean you inspired confidence in others to take responsibility for a student organization or event.  
  • Volunteer positions mean you care about other people and are inspired to give back to your community.

Applying this to the education section of your résumé takes it from the content in Example A to the content in Example B.

Example A

EDUCATION

Miami University, Oxford, OH;                                                                                           2004 - 2008

  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Supply Chain Management
  • GPA: 3.8 / 4.0
  • Vice President, Recruitment - Delta Pi Sigma Business Fraternity
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters Volunteer

Example B

EDUCATION

Miami University, Oxford, OH;                                                                                           2004 - 2008

  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Supply Chain Management
  • GPA: 3.8 / 4.0; Graduated Magna Cum Laude; Top 5% of class and a Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honorary Scholar
  • Vice President, Recruitment - Delta Pi Sigma Business Fraternity: Selected by peers among five candidates to lead competitive recruitment program for fraternity membership.   
  • Distinguished Department Scholar: Chosen by Marketing department professors among all marketing senior majors (315 total) as the Department Scholar
  • Academic Excellence Scholarship: Awarded an annual scholarship of $15,000 (75% of tuition costs) based on high school and college academic achievement.  Self-funded remaining tuition.
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters Volunteer
  • Study Abroad Experience: Miami University Luxembourg (Summer 2007)

Example B gives a much clearer view of the candidate and how their previous behavior will translate to future behaviors.  The candidate in Example B comes across as hard working, determined, socially-confident, and financially-savvy.  Almost everyone has these types of attributes and value to highlight, but rarely do I see a candidate highlight how well they did in comparison to others, especially in the "Education" section.  In some cases you could further expand the content later in the "Experience" section, giving a well-rounded view of your accomplishments during your undergraduate and/or graduate years will give employers a well-rounded picture of who you are.  This is especially important if you have less than five years of work experience, as the Education section is more prominent.

Posted on October 4, 2015 and filed under Job Search Toolkit, Resume.