What’s First in a Resume: Education or Work Experience?

3 min read
Education or work experience? Learning the proper resume format
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Being one of the writers who conduct resume critique, I usually encounter various resume issues that bug job seekers. More often, they are having some trouble identifying what particular skills must be highlighted or how can they make their resumes more eye-catching, is the one-page resume still effective, and do they really have to remove the cliche “reference available upon request” in their resumes. Nonetheless, one of the common questions that are being asked these days is “what comes first, education or work experience?”

This question one of the usual mind-boggling issues that an applicant asks during evaluations. Actually, it depends on the purpose or nature of the resume. There are various instances and events that must be considered first when fixing your resume.

Which Comes First: Education or Work Experience?

You can place your education first if:

1. You are a new graduate.

Simply put, you might not have enough work experience up your sleeves so you really need to place your education first. Okay, you might say that you have worked your way through college by having part-time works. If those work experiences are significant to the position you are applying for (let’s say, marketing specialist and you have worked as a marketing apprentice), then by all means, place your work experience first. Nonetheless, if your work has nothing to do with your target position (for instance, computer programming and your college job was waiting table), it is more preferred to have your education stated first.

2. If your work experience is not capable of outweighing your education.

Since, the recession has left some companies and as well as employees maimed, jobs that are usually available aren’t that “attractive.” So if you’re the type of student who’s always included in the dean’s list but after college got a sloppy job, then always place your education first.

By having your education first in this case, you will have more opportunity to highlight your true qualifications and prevent your job from overshadowing your abilities.

3. When you have acquired additional qualifications for your career change.

It is a common rule that if an individual is opting to shift his gears and drive into a different path, he must first equip himself with the skills and qualifications needed.

Applying that thinking into the job hunting scheme, you can say that before making a job transition or career change, it is important that the job seeker equips himself with the appropriate knowledge and skills needed for the job. Therefore, it is necessary that a job seeker places his or her education first especially after the completion of a new or additional degree. This will help him or her to boost his qualifications. Moreover, it will serve as a convincing factor that can encourage hiring managers to consider him.

4. If the applicant is targeting to apply in the academic field.

The academic field is a ground where knowledge is considered “power.” Needless to say, professionals in the area are more concerned on the educational background of an applicant.

With that, it is important that you place your education first before your work experience. Make sure that your resume embodies the “knowledge” and expertise that you have acquired. Licenses and publications will also give you a more positive image.

What comes first in your resume depends on the situation and nature of work. Therefore, as an applicant, you need to pay close attention on the job announcement before drafting and sending your resume. Remember that your initial take in getting your foot into the hiring manager’s door all depends on the structure and content of your resume.

Moreover, no matter what section comes first, whether it is your education or work experience, always remember to “consider” your reader. Since he has the final “say,” it is much better to put into consideration what he or she needs. After all, every job vacancy or ad is created because the advertising company has an existing “need” that must be filled or satisfied. Why not do hiring managers a favor by drafting resumes that fit that needs then?

Luis Johnson is a well respected professor of Psychology and has written various manuals on hiring, recruitment, and training.