CV Breakdown: Writing up Your Education and Training
The importance of the education and training section is going to vary a little depending on what stage of your career you're at. Obviously for school leavers and fresh university graduates ready to take on the world, this section is going to be absolutely critical given many won't have any form of work experience.
For others, say a 25 year veteran of the workforce for example, education is going to be a lot less important to an employer than their work history and the skills they've developed over their career.
Training however can come into play at any point in your career and will likely be an important section to your CV throughout your life, this is especially true for those who have had career gaps.
What to include
School leavers and new graduates
Generally education is going to be front and centre on your CV, coming right after your contact details and personal statement. Go in reverse chronological order, so most recent first - University > College/Sixth form > Secondary school.
For those with University degrees add the course name, your degree grade and list the relevant modules to the job you're applying for (don't list all of your modules if they're not relevant!).
Document the responsibilities and skills you learned from your course and match them back to the job description, for example, teamwork learned from group work and presentation skills.
For A levels, list each one, the grades and the skills learned from your course.
For GCSEs only name the ones an employer has specifically asked for, usually grade A*-C English and Maths.
If you did training, extra-curricular activities at school and uni, you can list these alongside that section in your education. You may not need a separate section for training unless you have a lot of relevant experience outside of education.
Basically write down any transferable skills you can and anything relevant to the role you're going for.
Those with previous work experience
If you have previous work experience, always make this a priority ahead of your education on your CV as this is what the employer will be interested in.
The longer you have been in work the less detailed you need to be on your education. If you only have a few years of work experience and you're a little light on skills, add more detail to your education section. If you're very experienced and have worked in many roles and acquired many skills, feel free to simply list your education and grade attained at degree level.
If you did training or gained new qualifications at a prior role, you can document these with that role in the work experience section, or you can add a separate training and qualifications section. By noting them separately in their own section you make it a little clearer to an employer and differentiate them from other skills you learned on a particular job.
Those with career gaps
Employers understand that people have career gaps for a variety of reasons and this is OK. This is where training and education can really come in handy.
If you have a career gap but have been doing training and extra education in between jobs you can put this first on your CV. This is sometimes known as a skills based CV and starts off with your most relevant skills, which now likely come from your recent training.
This could be someone who has gone back to university later in life, has been working towards a certain qualification in their own time or has been completing training as part of volunteer work. The same principle applies, present your most relevant skills first.
What not to include
Non-relevant qualifications and waffle. Don't overload your education with every grade for every bit of school and uni work you've ever done.
Don't list all of your GCESs too. If an employer has asked for specific ones you can add the grades, but for the others go ahead and just summarise with "Nine GCSEs all grades A-C"
You can add hobbies and interests as part of your education, but again, make sure they're relevant. Putting all hobbies down will just take up valuable space.
If you've been in work for some time, say longer than ten years, you don't need to list your GCSEs or A levels. The further you get into your career the less relevant they become and they take up space that can be used for your work experience section.
Extra Tips on making this section great
Regardless of where you are in your career though, there are some good general rules to follow when writing up your education and training and you'll find these same themes across all aspects of your CV:
- Make sure the skills you associate with each part of your education and training are relevant to the specific job you're applying for.
- Keep things short, easily readable and to the point.
- Add any extra accolades and achievements you achieved while in education. Were you top of your class in anything? Or did you complete a large project that has particular relevance to the role you're applying for? Always be thinking of things that can differentiate you from other candidates.