Careers advice

Get it right: how to list education on your CV

Your CVs education section is important to employers, here's how to nail it.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to list education on your CV.
  • How to format the education section of your CV.
  • What not to do in the education section of your CV.
  • Why employers are interested in the education section of your CV.

There’s a lot to think about when creating a CV, and many people think it’s all about past work experience.

Sure, this stuff is important, but so is your CV’s education section.

This is something many people overlook, either because they think it’s unnecessary, or because they’re unsure what it should look like. Today, we’ll make nailing this section easy, and show why your CV just ain’t the same without it.

As well as walking you through exactly what you need to include, and why, we have some free CV templates that you can download and use in your own applications. This way, all of the formatting is done for you, and you just need to fill in your details in the spaces we’ve indicated.

How to list education on a CV

1. What to include

If you check out our free, downloadable CV templates, in the education section, you’ll see we’ve given:

  • The school name
  • The location
  • The qualification (e.g. Bachelor of Arts)
  • The dates of attendance

If you achieved any extra honours or awards, you should also include them in your education section.

Do you include high school on your CV?

This is a common question and, in NZ, the answer is: it depends.

If you’re still in education (either school or uni), you should include your NCEA results on your CV. This is also true if you didn’t feel uni was for you, and dived straight into the world of work.

For those that did go to uni, your employer will be more interested in your degree results – so feel free to remove your NCEA results. However, if this is a first job application and you think your CV is looking a little light, no employer will penalise you for leaving it in.

What if you’re still studying?

Simply put your expected finish date where the actual finish would normally be – this is enough to let recruiters know your study is ongoing. Obviously, you can’t include grades here, but if you have your predicted grades, you include these forever, as long as you make it clear that they are predicted.

2. How to format the education section of your CV

Education is usually listed underneath work experience on New Zealand CVs.

Note: if this is your first CV, and you have little or no professional experience, you might want to swap this around and put your education first. This is also true if you’re still in education, just to make it even clearer that this is your most recent activity.

When inputting the above information, start with your most recent educational achievement, then continue backward chronologically.

Each qualification should have its own line, for example:

  • University of Otago, Dunedin - BA in Geography, 2012-2015

To speed things up: if you have a Trade Me Jobs Profile, you can just click the ‘Create CV from profile’ button in the top right, and your profile will auto download a correctly formatted CV based on the info you’ve already provided.

What not to do in the education section of your CV

There’s just one thing you absolutely must not do here:

Lie about qualifications you don’t have

When a dream job is on the line, it can be tempting to big yourself up to improve your chances. Education is a common one for candidates to lie about, which means employers will check this if something doesn’t seem right.

Why do you need to include education on your CV?

It’s true, the education section of your CV can be more or less important, depending on the sector you’re applying to. For example, some professions such as lawyers, medical professionals and accountants have to achieved certain qualifications in order to practice, and the process of obtaining these certifications usually begins at university.

However, even if you’re applying for a role in a section which is less overtly focused on academic credentials, it’s still important you present your education in the right way. This is particularly true if you’re writing a CV for your first job, when you probably don’t have a lot of other things that hiring managers can base their decisions on.

1. Some roles require formal qualifications

You’d hope your GP, lawyer or the person who built the bridge you walk over everyday didn’t get their job just because they knew the right people. For these types of roles, it's essential employers and recruiters see you tick all the boxes.

2. Because you leave school or uni with more than just a certificate

In particular, group projects are a great way to show you’re good at working with other people, if you don’t have professional experience on your CV just yet.

3. It shows your interests

Employers like interesting people, and what you chose to focus your studies on (either at school or uni) can be a great talking point in interviews, and help employers gain a fuller picture of you.