when should I move education to the bottom of my resume?

A reader writes:

I graduated from college 2-1/2 years ago and have held 2 positions since then, one of which I worked at throughout college. Those 2 jobs and 2 internships are included on my resume.

I’m looking for new positions and am wondering, at what point do I move my education to the bottom of my resume? I still consider myself a recent grad and I’m very hesitant to move it down. My college is one of the top recruited in the country, with a very large alumni base that loves to hire other alums, and I feel it is a big selling point. I don’t think my experience is especially impressive, but it does relate closely to the work I’m looking for. Is it time to move it to the bottom or is it still a big selling point on my resume?

In the vast majority of fields, employers care more about your work experience than they do about the details of your education. Yes, they might require a degree, even a degree in a specific field — but it’s your work experience that’s going to determine how qualified you are compared to other candidates.

Because of that, I’d nearly always lead with your work experience, not your education, unless one of the following is true:

1. Your work experience is really unimpressive (which would mean no internships, no work in your field, and no other substantive work). In this case, your education might be the strongest thing you have going for you, and it would make sense to lead with it.

2. You’re in one of the relatively few fields where education is considered as significant a qualification as work experience. (Although in those fields, work experience is still usually a differentiator between candidates, and education is more of a prerequisite for your application to even be in the mix.)

3. You’re trying to change fields and you have recent education in your field, but all of your work experience is in a different field and anyone looking at your resume is going to be confused about why you’re applying until they see your education section. In that case, you might find it helpful framing to put the education first so that a reader has some instant context about why you’re applying for this job, context that they won’t get from your work experience.

But for the vast majority of people, work experience is what you want to lead with and emphasize.

Turning back to your case specifically, the fact that you went to a top recruited school with friendly alumni doesn’t really trump the above. Employers are still going to see your school, after all — but it’s not the meat of your qualifications, and so I wouldn’t lead with it.

Now, all that said, is it going to destroy your chances if you lead with your education anyway? No, of course not. But if you’re interested in making your resume as strong as you can, talk about work experience first.

{ 105 comments… read them below }

      1. CambridgeAnon*

        Yeah, there’s nothing more off-putting than dropping the H-bomb on someone. I know people who are 40-ish who still drop the H-bomb. Nobody cares where you went to school! (unless you’re in academia)

        1. meh*

          Actually, in academia people care more about your research/publications and your advisors than about the school.

          That is: someone with a Ph.D. from Harvard may have an advantage because they did their dissertation under a strong and well-known advisor, not because they emerged from Harvard.

          In general, though, the publication trail matters far more than the school. CVs lead with education out of convention, and because they’re usually over three pages, no one cares that much about the order.

            1. fposte*

              Right, but once you’re in academics, people don’t care about it in the same way. For one thing, people don’t really care about where you did your undergrad when you’re hunting with your PhD unless it’s notable for *bad* reasons–as long as it’s serviceable, nobody cares beyond that. And once you get into the PhD level, prestige is extremely field-dependent–there’s no school that carries top level prestige across every degree program at the PhD level–and as Meh suggests, who you work with and what you’ve published are going to carry even more weight than the university name itself.

        2. Lora*

          Heh. Old joke which still applies:

          A new bridge was being built on Rte 2A, connecting the Harvard and MIT campuses. The planning committee announced that they would have a contest to decide whether the bridge would be named after Harvard or MIT, and that the decision would be made in a month.

          For a month, the Harvard folks drafted, edited, re-drafted and wordsmithed the most glorious prose they could dream up, about the magnificence of Harvard and how Harvard University was a ray of enlightenment in this dark world.

          For 29 days, the MIT team did nothing. On the last day of the month, the MIT guys went out to the nearly-complete bridge and measured each part of it with extreme care. They tested the metal, the concrete samples, measured the length of the supports to the millimeter. Then they went back to the lab to do some calculations.

          On the last day, the Harvard folks presented their essay with much fanfare. When they were done, the MIT team stood up and, smirking, said, “Name the bridge after Harvard.”

    1. Anonymous*

      Hopefully the jobs your Havard education got you will be more impressive than just attending the school!

    2. KC*

      There are few things worse than Ivy League graduates who think that they need to rely heavily on that (or that they’re members of MENSA, or whatever) in order to find a job.

      I once interviewed a candidate who listed that prominently on his resume (I was on an interviewing committee). Based on his experience alone, I never would have asked him to come in myself, and his attitude really rubbed me the wrong way.

      I’ve met plenty of Ivy League folks who completely lack common sense and are frustrating to work with as a result; and I’ve met plenty of people with no degrees but SERIOUS technical chops in addition to a lot of common sense (I work with software engineers primarily, and what you know and are capable of is often more valuable than a degree).


      1. Anonymous*

        What does “listed that prominently” mean? Was it in extra-large type compared to everything else?

        1. KC*

          I didn’t phrase myself well. This guy wasn’t an Ivy Leaguer, he was a MENSA guy. His “Skills / Accomplishments” were at the top of his resume, including his MENSA membership.

          The CEO at my last gig was particularly enamored of Ivy League schools (he wasn’t a college graduate himself). He often mistook Ivy League education for meaning “way smarter than the guy who went to any other university*,” which simply isn’t true.

          *Full disclosure: I graduated from a state university

          1. H-Bomber*

            Yeah, that ain’t right. Not any other university. People who went to MIT, University of Chicago, and Stanford can be just as smart. Oh, and Oxford and Cambridge.

      2. Anonymous*

        “Based on his experience alone, I never would have asked him to come in myself, ”

        So listing his education on top worked? (in that it got him the interview)

        1. CoffeeLover*

          I have to agree. Objectively speaking does being an Ivy League graduate mean you’re more capable, certainly not. Would I go to Harvard and endure the debt because it will give me some kind of edge? No. Harvard doesn’t mean you’ll get a good job. BUT, there are plenty of hiring managers that are awestruck by the name, so I wouldn’t discount the its affect completely.

    3. mbet*

      It’s at the bottom of mine. And I graduated with honors. The fact that it’s at the bottom of the resume hasn’t stopped the topic from coming up at some point along the way of every hiring process in which I’ve participated. Putting education at the bottom of your resume doesn’t mean that hiring managers and HR types don’t read it.

      Okay, so I did put education at the top for a short time…when I was in graduate school in order to career-switch, and 1) was applying to jobs through the grad school’s career programs and 2) was applying to jobs who wouldn’t consider me without knowing the context that I was working toward a particular degree. My grad school’s kick-ass career center (not being sarcastic, they were awesome) directed all of us to do so. But that had nothing to do with where I went to undergrad. Were I in the job market now (I’m very happy with my job, so I’m not), education would be back at the bottom of my resume.

      1. Anonymous*

        Bottom of mine too. And I graduated with honors too. From Harvard. There, I did it. I dropped the H-Bomb.

        Though everyone knows that going to Harvard doesn’t mean you’re smart, and probably means you’re less capable at actually working than others who worked hard at less “prestigious” schools. Right? Maybe even stupid and rich. I’ve read that here, at least.

        Also got a degree from Yale. Yes, I dropped the H-Bomb and the Y-Bomb in the same message. LOL. Maybe I should put education at the start of my resume so everyone could see that and think “Don’t even call him in. Don’t read any further. He’s got to be an askhole. And very privileged and full of himself. GOT to be.”

        1. continued*

          Pity me though. Recently went back to school to a “less prestigious” school as part of a career shift. A professional degree, or what my classmate at the H-school would call “not much more than a trade school certificate.”

          I’m kind of old, and want to put the new degree further up the resume to help me look fresh. “New degree recently? OK, he may be older, but he’s still with it” is the impression I want.

          But if I do that, and not include the H-bomb it looks like I’m hiding something. And if I do include the H-bomb (and even the Y-bomb) then people think (know?) I’m an akshole.

          Or a slacker (“Why didn’t he go to Princeton or MIT for his third degree? Is he lazy now that he’s old?”)

          So I’m screwed.

          And THAT my friends is why a degree from Harvard is useless – if you ever get a degree from a “regular” school you can’t even show it off properly.

          Maybe I should just write “Some school near Boston” on my resume.

  1. Kevin*

    I think of it as having similarities to a musician auditioning for a symphony. There are certain pieces they ask for that will only lose you the audition. No matter how well they are played the pieces are really only their to be graded as pass fail. There are other pieces they ask for that will win you the job.

    In many case a degree only keeps you from not getting the job. It’s usually the work experience that gets the job.

  2. Anon*

    Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way but my interpretation was not the physical placement of the listing of your education but how much you “promote” it on your resume. I’ve got a BS and MS. It takes 4 lines. It’s the first thing up on my resume then work experience. Are you taking half a page to talk about your education? That was my thought.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think the OP literally means moving it to the bottom of your resume, below work experience (both because that’s what the wording of the question sounds like and because people ask me that all the time so it seems to be a common question)!

      1. Judy*

        I only had my education at the top for the first job out of college, because my work experience was only a 5 co-op semesters and pre-college and college odd jobs.

        I only have one line per degree:
        BS Teapot Engineering, 1999, Teapot University, Hershey, PA
        MS Teapot Engineering, emphasis in spout analysis, 2008, Institute of Chocolate, Teapot, ID

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I don’t think you need more than that–I keep seeing people posting here about two and even three lines per degree, and I don’t see the reason for that.

          1. thenoiseinspace*

            Ugh, I wish I could do that. In my case, both of my degrees (and both of the universities) have long titles. One of them even needs to be explained – I wrote in about it months ago and everyone settled on the shortest possible explanation that made it make sense, but even then, it was still pretty long.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, pure necessity will enlarge things sometimes (heck, most of the California state system will probably put you on a second line right there). But there’s no conceptual reason to have a second line–it’s just a character-count issue.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I love that your fictional school for your MS is in Idaho! It is so rarely mentioned… And most people just assume it’s Iowa.

    2. The IT Manager*

      It never ever occurred to me to put my education at the bottom; although, I did end up cramming each degree (a BS and MS) onto one line each. All templates seem to show education near the top.

      Not that that particular resume ever got me a job.

      1. Marie*

        I’ve always heard it goes at the top if you don’t have a lot of experience in the field and at the bottom if you do. Either way, the positions I hire for require a specific degree so no matter where an applicant puts it, I will find it and see it so, for me, I don’t care where they have it.

  3. pghadventurer*

    What about for current grad students? I have both my in-progress degree and undergrad at the bottom, but someone told me to move it up because it looks like I don’t think my graduate degree is important. I’m currently working in my field and have about 3 years of experience.

      1. Catherine*

        I agree with Sarah. If you’re a current grad student, put it at the top. Recruiters who are looking for candidates from your school will expect the details of your program to be fairly early on in the resume, and they won’t necessarily expect you to have experience outside of the academic context yet (depending on your field, of course).
        Putting it at the bottom, however, doesn’t affect the value you place on your degree, just how quickly you want the reader to notice it.

    1. Anonymous*

      Academic jobs tend to emphasize where you went to school, especially in graduate programs. In my (science) field, we receive stipends and are expected to devote our time exclusively to our program in return. Some policy students with whom I work have relevant jobs and internships, which I assume is what you’re discussing.

      According to a friend who moved to the private sector after a MS, private-sector experience should be emphasized if you’re looking for an industry job.

    2. Loose Seal*

      I’m a current grad school student in a non-academic career. Mine’s at the bottom. My fear was that if I put it at the top, employers would think I was too interested in my schoolwork and not as interested in working.

      Seems to work as I just got hired by someone who said he was “blown away” my my resume and cover letter. (Thanks, AAM!)

  4. Sam*

    To add another reason: if you currently live in a certain city, but are looking to move back home to where you went to a school.

    For example, I grew up in and went to college in NH, moved down South for a job, then years later, I applied for a job back in my home state. For that particular job, I moved my education back up, so they would know I was originally from the area, and was looking to return home. I didn’t want to be dismissed immediately as an out-of-state candidate. I ended up getting (and accepting) the job. The hiring director said that she did take more of a glance at my resume because although my address was down south, I did have connections to the state, which lead to getting a good opportunity.

    1. Meg*

      I don’t think that’s another exception. AAM has tons of advice on applying to out-of-state jobs, and your reasons for wanting to relocate would ideally be stated in the cover letter. It makes the most sense to go there anyway.

      1. fposte*

        Right. Nobody’s saying take it off the resume entirely, and you shouldn’t be writing a resume so overstuffed that they don’t read it to the end. It wasn’t putting it at the top that mattered in Sam’s case, it was having the info at all.

      2. Anonymous*

        I disagree. As someone who lived out of state for five years then relocated back to my hometown, I felt it was helpful to put my education up at the top to further emphasize that I was coming back home…not randomly applying to an out of state job. Even though you can address this in a cover letter, different people pay attention to different things. Some employers glance over your cover letter or may find your reasoning disingenuous if you’ve lived out of state for long enough. Plus, you should never underestimate the power of college allegiance in your hometown. For both me and my husband, emphasizing our alumni connection proved pivotal to our relocation back home.

          1. Anonymous*

            I still disagree. Something at the bottom of your resume is easier to overlook than if its front and center.

                1. Sam*

                  Exactly. I’m sure some reviewers just glance at the most recent work experience, and don’t really focus too much on the very end.

              1. Anonymous*

                Its not a sign that the resume is too long. Its natural that your eye and attention are drawn to those things at the top of a page rather than the bottom. If you want to catch someone’s attention then put the information front and center, not at the bottom where it could be overlooked by a hiring manager who is tired of reviewing resumes. There’s a certain psychology to putting information first that has nothing to do with resume length.

  5. Erin*

    I always thought that education should move to the bottom once you are no longer an entry level candidate or at an entry level job level. ie: mid-20’s?

    1. Michelle*

      I have a feeling that’s what a lot of people do, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way. I graduated this past May and didn’t start getting interviews until I moved my education to the bottom. Could be a fluke, but my experience seems to be what got me a job — can’t hurt to put it first!

    2. KarenT*

      Both as a hiring manager and an applicant, I can say I’ve never given this much thought.
      When I’m screening resumes, I do look to see what a person’s educational background is (relevant in my field) and their work history, but the order doesn’t mean anything to me. As long as all the information is there, I’m good.
      Now, if someone lead with their hobbies section….

    3. Felicia*

      I’m an entry level candidate and graduated in May 2012, and it never actually occurred to me to put my education at the top! I’ve always put it at the bottom and didn’t realize that other people didn’t. I think because my degree is because jobs i want need a degree, but it doesn’t really matter what it’s in and where you got it.

  6. Audiophile*

    This is a great question, so glad someone asked this. Personally, I moved my education down not long after leaving my first post college job. I wasn’t actively applying for jobs in my degree field, so it felt less like a requirement. Even now, several years removed from school and finally applying for jobs in my field (communications/marketing/PR) I have not run into any issues.

  7. anon*

    Overall, I think it’s about sending the message that you realize the company is looking for skills that work for THEM (the work experience), as opposed to just hiring you because you’re so great (your amazing school).

  8. Lindsay*

    I never knew this! What if a particular degree is required to apply for a position in the first place?

    I have an MLIS, which is required for librarian jobs, and I am currently a library staff person applying for librarian jobs. (I also happen to work in academia).

    Can any of you library-types give me some advice?

    1. Jessica*

      I am a librarian at a research institution – all candidates apply for jobs here with the education at the top of the CV. Good luck.

    2. Zed*

      List your education first, especially if you only have paraprofessional experience. The MLIS is the bare minimum for professional librarian jobs; if you don’t list it prominently, you risk a hiring manager (or, worse, university HR) putting you in the wrong pile.

      Most academic librarians I know keep their education at the top of their CV, especially if their undergrad or second grad degree relates to the job they want.

    3. Cheryl*

      I work in academia – degree required for my position – and I put it at the bottom. So many places have electronic application systems anyway – your resume won’t even get viewed if you don’t have the requisite degree. So, the degree is assumed for all candidates who make it past the initial cut – it does not differentiate you from others at all – put it at the bottom and lead with your relevant experience.

      1. Anon*

        +1. I am a hiring manager in a public library. If your application makes it through the initial HR screen, I assume you have the degree; use your resume to tell me something beyond that.

    4. Tasha*

      My semi-informed advice is that if you’ve held a job that requires the degree, that job should be emphasized. If not, the degree should go up top.

    5. kkcf*

      I know this is an old topic, but if you’re applying for an academic position you can use a CV which would put your education at the top, be longer than a resume and include publications, presentations, etc. If it’s a public position a reguar resume is probably prefered, but look at the posting. If it says “please submit your resume or CV” you can submit either. If you’ve got a strong CV I’d submit that. I always submit my CV if it says resume or CV.

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    I was talking to my stepdaughter the other night, who is a sophomore in high school and starting to think about colleges. I told her that after you get into the working world, no one really cares where you went to college. She was dumbfounded and said, “Really?!?!” I said that yes, in my experience, that was true. There are some cases where the school you attended might give you an edge: like if you’re an attorney with Harvard Law School on your resume, or if the recruiter or hiring manager went to your alma mater. But in most cases, companies want people with experience, plus, in an interview they’re going to be evaluating your answers to questions, your personality, your interactions, and so on to determine if you’ll be a good fit. Just being able to say, “I went to [Super Exclusive University] is no guarantee of getting the job.

    She was so surprised to hear this — it made me remember how everyone was so obsessed in high school with getting into this college or that university.

    1. KJR*

      Have this talk frequently with my two high schoolers. There is no point in getting yourself heavily in debt at a high-priced school when employers don’t really care where the degree is from!

      1. TL*

        As a graduate of a high-priced school – there are some things you can get out of them you can’t get out of bigger, cheaper schools. (And the debt, at least for me, is worth it and getting paid off quickly.)
        The name is not as important but the experience often is. And there’s a huge difference between state schools and private liberal arts schools (and everything in between.)

      2. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Employers may not care (much) about where you got your degree, but there are other ways that certain schools can have a positive influence on your career: exposing you to fields that you wouldn’t have gravitated toward otherwise, connecting you with mentors, requiring internships, providing excellent career services or access to a strong alumni network. That is to say that the fact of having gone to Harvard might not get you as far as you might imagine, but the resources Harvard has to offer you might be richer than XYZ University.

    2. Senor Poncho*

      Really depends on a person’s goals though. Local state U isn’t getting very many of its grads high end i-banking or consulting work, nor is the local third tier law school going to send more than a handful of its grads to big law firms.

      For better or worse, there are some situations where it makes sense to pay for the prestige factor.

      Now, with all that said, I’m not advocating that someone pay full price for a USC English BA or anything like that. Your point is probably accurate at least 9 of 10 times.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Oh there are absolutely some great advantages of going to prestigious schools that you wouldn’t get other places, but I think sometimes people think that a degree from those schools (and nothing else) will automatically open all kinds of doors, and I just don’t agree.

        I got my BS from a state school, taking night classes while I worked full time. I really don’t think it’s had any negative impact on my career. I’ve never had trouble finding a job, and my compensation is pretty competitive. And given how expensive college has become, it really is a cost-benefit analysis that each person has to do to decide if the cost of the prestigious school is going to pay off down the road.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          My understanding is that attending a school like an Ivy League, or your MITs or Cal Techs or the like really does open all kinds of doors, but mostly before graduation. It’s like 4 years of networking with some of the richest and/or most talented people in the country.

          1. Lora*

            True. Right now I’m applying for consulting jobs, which normally recruit kids fresh out of the Ivies. (Yeah, that analysis report from BCG? Was written by a 21-year-old with no previous work experience, not even bagging groceries. Still want to pay $750,000 for it?) I have 13 years of experience spread over a couple of different fields (all STEM, but for different industries), managerial experience, and I have my own small tinkering tech business on the side. I’ve been told that despite being an industry contact for three government agencies and various venture capital investors, they would feel nervous actually putting me in front of a client. They feel that non-Ivy grads simply don’t have the same polish and flair.

            It’s probably true. I mean, most of my business clothes are Theory, Elie Tahari and Diane von Furstenburg, not Armani Collezione and I buy shoes from Zappos because they look comfy, not because they’re Ferragamos. My only “good” jewelry is a strand of estate pearls; most of my jewelry is the sort of thing you pick up at an art museum shop–quirky, not refined. I never get manicures (I’m an engineer, they’d last about 20 minutes) and my family couldn’t afford braces. And when class distinctions pop up, or someone makes a classist comment about Poor People, I visibly bristle.

            So yeah, I don’t present well. But that would not have changed if I went to Harvard vs. the small private school I attended.

        2. Anonymous*

          From what I understand (I’m not American but looked into US schools a couple of years ago), with the right financial circumstances, “prestigious” (and well-endowed) schools can offer enough financial aid to offset the sticker price. Certainly something worth looking into, as it might not necessarily be more expensive than XYZ U for a particular family.

      2. Marie*

        I’ve also heard advice about attending a state school for the first few years and then transfer to the more expensive school the last year. You degree will have their name on it and you didn’t have to pay for all four years. I went to a state school for all three of my degrees and have done just fine and am perfectly happy in my job.

  10. Cat*

    I think the legal field is an exception – I can’t remember the last attorney resume I saw that didn’t put education first. However, even there, it wouldn’t bother me if it was at the bottom; it just doesn’t seem to be the convention.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I have also noticed certain other conventions from JDs way more commonly: using an email signature that says you’re a JDS from x school, sending resumes from your school email, etc. These things are surprisingly uniform among candidates from many different schools. I think because JDs are a dime a dozen now, schools might be putting more resources into job hunting advice and whatnot (whether or not the advice is good, of course, remains to be seen).

    2. Marie*

      I just had to go pull up my husband’s resume to see how he has it- his education is closer to the bottom, just above awards and publications. He has extensive experience, though, in both civil and criminal law and in both the public and private sectors so I would think that should be first as a lot of attorneys only have experience in one area of law and ALL of them graduated from law school. It sets him apart immediately.

  11. Cali7*

    Similar to the library question- what do you think about moving education down but putting your degree (but not the university, etc.) in your skills/qualifications section? For instance lots of social work type jobs want or would prefer an MSW, so when I’m job searching (not now actually but when i am) I’ve begun sticking that right up there and combining it with LSW (because you can be a licensed at the bachelor’s level and I don’t want them to get confused). Curious-

    1. Anonymous*

      How common is it to use your degree after your name on such a resume? Would it be appropriate to use “Cali7, MSW” at the top instead of “Cali7”? Same with other (excuse the expression) terminal degrees, eg MLS, PhD? I’ve seen them with JD, & with PhD in certain circumstances outside of academia.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Actually, I’d keep it to the education sentence, but mention it in the cover letter prominently. And/or in that one or two sentences in the body of the email that you use to introduce yourself and say what’s attached.

  12. De Minimis*

    At what point do you get to where you can comfortably lead with your experience? I’m only on my second real job in my field, and still have more or less entry level experience [my current job is the only one where I’ve worked for more than a year.]

    My guess would be maybe when after I have two years of experience at this job, at that point it may be seen as a bigger asset than my degree.

    1. Mints*

      Yeah, I suddenly had the reverse question–I have work first and education after, but I’m only two years out of school. Should school stil go first?

      1. CAA*

        My two cents is that both of you should put work before education on your resumes.

        If I see a resume that has the education first, I immediately think this is a new grad who’s never held a full-time job and I form an impression that I’m going to pay this person a certain salary and provide a certain level of “how to be a professional” coaching, and all the other things that go with hiring someone who’s never worked 40 hours a week for more than 3 months in a row. I will read your whole resume and I’ll go past the education to see that you have some experience, and I’ll adjust my expectations for your salary and coaching needs; but it’s really better to send the correct first impression.

        If you need a time limit for when to move the education to the bottom, I’d say after you’ve got six months experience at relevant jobs/internships that occurred after your graduation date.

  13. AdjunctForNow*

    What if you have work history and then went back to school full-time? I am finishing up my PhD, but have significant work history in my field. If I apply to industry jobs, I plan to put the work first, but that means I have a four-year gap since my last full-time employment. Or do I put in “graduate research assistant” as a real job and then list the actual education stuff later?

    1. CAA*

      I’d put the graduate research assistant job first, with the dates that you held it. The first bullet under the job title can say something about holding this job part-time while working on your PhD. Then put the rest of your work experience, education at the bottom (list the PhD first under Education).

  14. Anoymous*

    Somewhat related but, still worth pointing out: always, ALWAYS put where you went to college somewhere on your resume (at the bottom).

    I once had an informational interview with a highly recommended recruiter. Before meeting this recruiter for the first time, in order to gain space on my resume, I took off my undergrad information and just left the well-known university where I had recently received a professional certificate in my industry. Upon meeting the recruiter, despite my professional certificate from the well-known university and my solid, previous work experience, the recruiter assumed in I didn’t go to college and started talking about how it might be difficult to place me due to my lack of a college degree. Certainly, when I corrected him a minute later, he was definitely embarrassed by his assumption but, it taught me 2 good lessons: 1) Never leave the undergrad degree off a resume 2) Bad recruiters assume instead of directly asking

    1. anonymous*

      hmmm. I very deliberately leave off my undergrad degree- it’s from a small, extremely conservative religious school, and on the off-chance that some one has actually heard of the place, I don’t want to be associated with it. But I do have a masters degree (MPH) from a state university that I’m proud of, so I say that’s all anyone needs to know about me.

      1. Anonymous*

        You had a degree. The person above you had no degree at all listed, just a certificate. That’s pretty different.

  15. Jake*

    This is a great point that I missed. I recently was job searching with 2.5 years of experience, and I left my education at the top of my resume because that is where it had always been.

    It didn’t hurt me too much, considering I got a couple offers, but I can see why it needs to move to the bottom, which I will do next time I update my resume.

  16. notshocked*

    Education goes first IMHO. I was told once folks want to know up front if you have prereqs. Also, I’d place Ivy Leagues up front just because they’re an accomplishment. It’s a few lines usually, I think it looks weird anywhere else.

    1. H-Bomber*

      An accomplishment? Depends. They work hard at Princeton, or at least they did when I was in college.

      But some of them? Getting in was an accomplishment for sure. Graduating? Less so.

  17. Joey*

    Move it to the bottom when you want the hiring manager to focus on your professional accomplishments. That should be when you apply for jobs above entry level.

    Same with Ivy’s- they only impress when there’s little to no experience. In fact, they can be a detriment if your work history doesn’t live up to the potential most people apply.

  18. Anonymous*

    If memory serves, every company online application I’ve ever had the displeasure and misfortune of filling out requested education before employment.

  19. Kathryn in Finance*

    What do you think about where Education/Certifications should be for tech jobs? My husband is applying for jobs, and he has his education and certifications listed first. We debated about where they should go (I was pushing for at the bottom) but he said that in all the resumes he’s seen Education/Certifications had been at the very top. I know there are a lot of tech types here, what’s your opinion?

    1. Anonymous*

      I don’t really have an opinion on the top/bottom issue, but do make sure the certifications are actually held in high regard in the area he’s applying in. Vendor certifications are a dime a dozen, and not all of them are worth the resume space.

      1. Kathryn in Finance*

        The certification he has is directly applicable to his job and is tied to a skill, not to a product/software. Thanks for the input!

        1. CAA*

          Put them at the bottom, degrees first in reverse chronological order followed by certifications in reverse chronological order. I’m currently hiring an Oracle DB Developer, several Java Developers at various levels and a Front-end Web Developer, so I think I’m qualified to have an opinion on tech resumes. :-)

          That said, most tech resumes are truly awful and putting the education in the “wrong” place is so minor that it will not rule you out. Of the two resumes on my desk right now, one is 5 pages long with education at the bottom of page 1 and the other is 2 pages with education at the end. Both of these people entered the workforce in 2000, and the person with the shorter resume has held more jobs. I’m interviewing both of them, even though one resume is a good one that follows the rules and the other is not. If you have technical skills that match the position, and I can see that from your cover letter and resume, then that’s what really matters, not where the education is on the page.

  20. Tara T.*

    I did not go to Harvard, but I understand those people who want to keep it at the top of their resume, because I went to night school to get my B.A. and finished it two years ago, and like having it at the top of my resume. But at some point, I will probably move it and have the work history on the top. I saw something strange on someone’s resume once, where she put her internships on the top, and then her work history below, so the dates were out of order – it was awful!

  21. OP*

    Thanks for the feedback! While I spend much more time on other parts of my resume, this is one area I’ve never really thought about.

    It’s interesting to see how different people are. Some people have never had theirs at the top of their resume and others always do. I was told through college to keep it at the top, which I agree with, but was a little confused what to do after my first real job?

    After hearing responses, it definitely makes more sense to move it to the bottom unless the degree is hugely relevant to the job or more relevant to the job than your work experience is.

    I was also told I should take my internships off the resume? They each only have 2 bullets and I feel it adds to the customer service skills which my professional jobs are not as focused around.

    How do you feel about internships coming off a resume once you’ve started professional work?

  22. Tara T.*

    In response to OP’s 11/15/13 at 9:37 a.m. post, I did not mean that someone should not put internships on the resume at all. The person I was talking about had hers at the top, I guess to include them in her Education section, and then her Experience was below, but she did not have the sections labeled, and the dates were out of order. She should have included her internships with other work experience, and all in order by date.

    1. OP*

      I actually completely missed that comment when I posted! I agree, that is very strange to include internships in education because it’s…just not. Unless it was a TA position that was considered an internship for some reason?

      I’ve had some friends (aged 25-29) tell me to take internships off because people don’t really care after college. Now, I will say i RARELY listen to my friends job advice unless 1.they are a recruiter/in HR or 2. it relates to me being interested in the company they work for. My friend has had 2 professional jobs, one only lasting 6 months, and took her internships off. I’m inclined to leave them on because I tend to get at least one question from interviewers about it.

      I don’t see it as hurting me by having it on there so I’m inclined to leave them on. I’ll probably toss them after my next position so I will have a solid 3 professional jobs and hopefully a few more years of experience.

  23. ICP*

    I’m helping a friend update his resume – he has good, solid work experience, but no advanced degree. He currently has his high school listed at the bottom of his resume, and he ended up getting a GED instead of a regular high school diploma. He finished high school in the late 90s. What would be the most effective way for him to list his education? Does he need to list the years that he attended high school and the fact that he got a GED?

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