This section is straightforward, but it’s important to start with some don’ts before we get on to the dos. Where people often get this section wrong is to put too much detail in.
Sadly, in the ageist society we live in it is not advisable to put in your date of birth if you are over 40. If you want to add any more details about yourself, why not add them to the additional information section. Using this section also allows you to get quickly to a real hook – either your education or your work experience.
There are a few options in this section. If you think it would help you get the job, you could also mention whether you have a clean driving license, for instance. Remember though, you don’t want to take up too much space with this section, and you want to make a crisp start with your CV and get onto the stuff that will get you that all-important interview.
The debate is where to put your education. Maybe the simplest answer is to decide how important the person reading the CV will think it is. If you have been Managing Director of a multi-national company, maybe your seven GCE ‘O’ level passes aren’t that crucial? Traditional CV advisers have always stressed that education should come up front in a CV. However, the more experienced you are the more likely you are to relegate your education to almost the last item on your CV. Of course, if you are just leaving school or college then your education is very important and it should be at the beginning of your CV. The judgement on this is really yours. The main problems people have with putting together their education sections are:
– how much detail to put in about the education
– how to set this section out.
In this section don’t be shy to put all your qualifications at school. You don’t need to give the grades for GCSEs if you went on to do ‘A’ levels. Don’t give details of exams you failed. The key here is to put down all the qualifications you have, because it’s likely to impress. You may then want to add a separate section where you list your training. All too often people tend to downgrade the value of training, but to many employers the training you have received is every bit or even more important than your formal education. After all, the employers who trained you thought it was important enough to spend money on, so why shouldn’t other employers?
So put down here every training course you have attended and any certificates you have. Today’s modern organization values training, so use this opportunity to tell them about what courses you have done. Do try to leave out irrelevant certificates and awards like the fact you earned a fire-lighting badge in the scouts or passed your cycling proficiency test.
This section often looks messy because people are left with a large block of text with both their place of education and their qualifications. A way of counteracting this is to break the section up into easily definable chunks. So, you might have a section headed Places of education, which lists the schools or colleges you went to, and where they are. Don’t mention your primary school here. You can then have a separate section headed Qualifications. Again, contrary to normal advice, we think a good idea is to start with the most recent qualifications you have. So if you have a degree, start with it and then work backwards.