Resumes: Education and Experience

There’s a lot of information that goes on a resume: all your contact information, the names and contact info of your references, perhaps a list of your marketable skills. But two of the most important sections of your resume are your education and your experience. Employers want to know what you know, what you can do for them and what kinds of professional assignments you’ve been able to handle in the past.

Let’s examine the education section first, even though it usually comes after the experience section on a resume. (If you’re still in school, however, or graduated from school within the last three years, then the education section should come right below your heading.) You should list the college(s) and the high school(s) you attended in reverse chronological order. You can put the names of these schools in boldface. Below the name of a school you can include your grade point average if it was a 3.0 or above. (You might even want to specify that your GPA was, say, a 3.5 out of a 4.0 as some colleges and high schools have a GPA school that goes up to 5.0.) Be honest here; an employer can easily verify your GPA on your official college transcript. You also want to list any extracurricular activities, awards or honors that are especially noteworthy. Don’t go overboard here; simply list the two or three such items you’re most proud of. You don’t have to list such items for high school unless there’s something really special you think a company should be aware of.

The experience section should include a list internships, clinical experiences or volunteer positions you’ve held. Only list a volunteer position if you stayed with it for at least a few months, and if it offered you the chance to acquire useful professional skills, or if you performed work that could be deemed valuable to the community. For each entry in this section, list the name of the company you worked for in boldface font, then below it include the specific title you held, the start and end dates for your work there, and then a short phrase describing the duties you performed at that place. For example, you might write that you “wrote grants” or “raised funds.” Bear in mind that whenever you say you led or managed something, you will attract the attention of an employer right away. At the same time, be careful not to stretch the truth in case, again, someone follows up on your resume.

If you’ve recently graduated from college, don’t feel bad if you have only one or two entries in your experience section. If you want to pad your resume a little bit because you think there’s too much blank space, then feel free to include a short list of skills you could bring to a job, or interests and hobbies, especially if these include pursuits that are intellectual or that help out your community in some way.

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