What Should Come First in Your Professional Resume – Experience or Education?

What Should Come First in Your Professional Resume - Experience or Education?

I remember preparing my resume for the first time alongside preparing for my first “big kid” job. I tried to think back to all the things we learned back in high school about resumes, about which should come first, experience or education, in the organization of the resume. I remember learning that there was a particular method to the madness of the resume’s organization, but my funny memory decided not to lend me a helping hand that day. So, running out of time, I decided to keep my professional resume as is.

Long story short, I didn’t get the job.

And my anxious self circled back to the thought that it was due to the disorganization in my resume.

Therefore, today, I am going to walk you through the best way to organization your professional resume when it comes to your experience and education sections. This will be able to help you present your resume in the greatest way possible to further help you blow the socks off your interviewers!

Experience and Education Sections in your Professional Resume

Experience and education are two of the most important sections on your professional resume.

Together, they show all the powerful things you have learned along with all the incredible things you are able to do with all you have learned.

Education

The education section of your resume describes, in detail, well… your education.

In this section, you will list all of your educational achievements including degrees you have received, education you have completed, and education you are currently working on. These should be listed in reverse order, meaning the most recent education you have received or are currently working on should be listed first before the others. For example, if you have received your master’s degree, then it should be listed first before you list your bachelor’s degree.

When you include your education, you should be sure to be as detailed as possible. You will want to include as much information relating to your education that you feel will best help you get the career you are looking for. You should list your GPA (if above 3.0) coupled with any honor’s recognition and/or special recognition you might have received. Plus, be certain to include dates when you began your education and when you concluded, including your commencement date. These small details show your potential employer your achievements and the time in which you achieved them.

What Should Come First in Your Professional Resume - Experience or Education? - Education

If you have begun periods of study but did not finish your degree, then feel free to still list this information in your professional resume along with the number of credits you have received and with the courses you were taking. This can be especially beneficial when the courses you have taken relate to the job you are applying for.

Lastly, when preparing your resume, you will want to obviously be sure to steer away from falsifying and embellishing your education. Sure, this can be tempting, but keeping honest with only benefit you in the long run. I know I probably didn’t need to state this, but I just wanted to throw it in!

Oh… and don’t keep your education too general. You’ve worked hard to brag about your accomplishments and your achievements… this is your time to do so! Let your light shine!

Experience

The experience section of your resume includes all of your work experience that pertains to the position you are interviewing for along with any and all volunteer or other experience that will help you to stand up and out above the crowd.

Just like your education, the components of your experience section should be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent experience being listed first and the oldest experience being listed at the end of the section.

Also similar to your education section, you will want to be certain to include as many important and critical details as possible. You have earned the right to brag about your job and volunteer success, so this is the perfect time for you to do so!

What Should Come First in Your Professional Resume - Experience or Education? - Experience

When listing the information and details about each job and experience component, take some time to think about the work and skills you were able to provide to the job. What are you most proud of? What were your employers and coworkers most grateful for? Which of these all relates to the job you are interviewing for? Once you have this established, then list these details from the most important to those that are still important, but maybe not as much so as the others.

You will want to spend quality time creating your experience section, personalizing each job and volunteer experience to fit the work you are applying for. When an interviewer reads your professional resume, they will see the hard work you put in to your resume and they will notice your time and effort. A polished professional resume shines brightly and can be seen from miles away.

A quick tip: The Internet is your friend! Do some research to see what are the important keywords the employer has used in the job description of your potential job that you are applying for. Then, include these keywords in your resume by adding them into the details of your work experience. This will help your professional resume to stick out even further! Plus, if the company you are applying to uses computer technology to fish out the preliminary round of applicants, this will help you resume to make it through this first step in the process.

Which One Should Come First?

Now that we have a greater understanding of the education and experience sections of your professional resume, here is the burning question: Which section should be listed first?

The answer: It depends.

(So much for a solid answer, right?!)

Fresh out of school?

If you are a high school student and have little or no work experience, then you will benefit most from placing your education before your work experience. By placing your education first, you will show your potential employer that you have been fully consumed with your studies to prepare for the next chapter in your journey.

If you are a recent college graduate (graduated college within three years), then you will want to include your education first as well. Even if you are presently working and have a strong, solid amount of work experience, still include your education first. Your college education is a monumental step in your journey. This is what is most likely to land you your first, second, or third “big kid” job, so you will want this to be noticed right away. Right after graduation, your college education and achievement becomes your greatest marketing skill.

Already a Professional?

There does come a time where you will want to list your work experience before your education.

Once you have five to ten years of solid work experience under your belt and your career has begun to show consistent progression, then you can list your work experience before your education. You will certainly still want to include all of your major education, even education you are currently working on if you are going back to school as this will further add substance to your work experience.

What Should Come First in Your Professional Resume - Experience or Education? - Already a Professional

When your career begins to take form in its hold after a general timeline of five to ten years of experience, your work history subsequently begins to be what potential employers first notice. This is because they already know that you are more than educated and qualified for a related position since you have been hired for a related position previously. Now, potential employers want to know how you performed in your jobs and how you were able to apply your education to your work.

Special Circumstances

There are some special circumstances where the organization of your resume might depend on your unique situation and the unique job you are interested in. For example, if you have received a PhD and have several publications under your belt and substantial work experience, then you still might benefit from including your education first since your education is so vital to your work and to where you are in your career.

If you feel you are in a special scenario such as this one, you might find it best to contact a job recruiter for further assistance. A recruiter and career specialist will be able to work together with you to build your professional resume in its best way as according to your history and the position(s) you are applying for.

Conclusion

Now that we have a deeper understanding of how to craft your resume’s organization when it comes to your education and experience, here are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

  • Your education should be listed from newest to oldest (reverse chronological order) and should include as many important details as possible
  • Your experience should be listed from newest to older too (reverse chronological order) and should include important keywords of your work that relate to the job description of the position you are applying for
  • If you are in high school or have graduated college within the past three years, list your education before your experience
  • If you have been working professionally for five to ten years and are building your career, then list your work experience before your education
  • If you feel you are in a special situation, feel free to contact a job recruiter for additional assistance and guidance
  • Make sure to include all relevant information in your resume.

Learn from my mistakes and you will have the best professional resume to present to your potential employer! You will do great. Good luck!

Photo Credits: Canva.com

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