Elaborating Your Education on a Resume

One of the greatest challenges that recent college graduates face when entering the professional job market is how to overcome their apparent lack of relevant job experience. It can seem to be a Catch-22: you a job in order to get relevant professional experience, but most employers won’t hire you without the experience. Fortunately, overcoming this obstacle is not as difficult as it might seem if you follow four simple tips for emphasizing your relevant education experience on your resume.

State you grade-point average. Right or wrong, many employers equate GPA with competence in their field for recent college graduates. If the GPA for your core classes is significantly above the median for your major, list it. The same holds true for your overall GPA. Or, list our overall GPA for the last two years of college if it is significantly higher than your overall final GPA. A higher than average GPA, for most employers, is a sure sign for future success for job candidates.

List relevant courses. List the courses that you took that will be of interest to possible employers. For example, include advanced or special courses in your major or chosen field. List courses that show a specialization or skill or that will make you more marketable within the organization, for example, business or communications courses. But don’t include courses that everyone in your major as required to take. List only those that make you stand out, that say, “Hey, I’m unique, because…” And make sure that you list courses by their official titles. Most employers won’t know what Microbiology 450 is. Call it by its official title: “Microbiology 450. Medical Microbiology.”

Include any relevant or special accomplishments. Did you take an advanced or other senior-level research course, work on a special project for one of your professors, or participate in an internship? Include the title and objective of the project, any advanced or specialized equipment that you used, and any specialized techniques that you applied. And if you know them, include the results of the project as well. Being able to discuss a project and present the results marks you as a professional, someone who can manage a project.

Emphasize honors and awards. Have you received any scholarships, internships, or other academic or non-academic awards? List them and describe their purpose. Such special honors indicate exceptional ability to the employer and give the impression of success. If a number of the honors and awards you received are non-academic, consider listing them in a separate section of your resume called “Honors” or “Awards” instead of in the Education section. Use your best judgment when deciding where this information will make the most impact.