Adding an education section on your resume seems pretty easy, right? After all, it would appear cut and dry – list the school, your degree, maybe the year, and you’re done. However, it’s not always that simple. For instance, what if you didn’t finish your degree? Should you still include it? Does education go at the top or bottom of your resume? Do you need to include details like year, GPA, or any distinctions? Now creating your education section has become trickier.

Not everyone’s education section will look the same. It depends on your personal experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind whether you’re crafting your first resume or updating later on in your career:

  • Education should go at the top of your resume if you are a recent graduate and at the bottom if you have professional experience in your field. If you just graduated with an advanced degree and are trying to land a new position, education can go at the top too.
  • List your highest degree first. For instance, a Master’s degree would be listed above a Bachelor’s degree. If you have at least a Bachelor’s, you can remove your high school information.
  • If you graduated within the past three years, list the year with your degree. If not, you can leave it off.
  • Unless you are a new graduate with little experience, you don’t need to include your GPA, distinctions, clubs, coursework, or other details.
  • If you don’t have much experience yet, include internships, capstone projects, theses, or other notable achievements or experiences that highlight your qualifications.
  • Even if you didn’t graduate, list the fact that you took college classes. You could position it as “Coursework in Business Administration, ABC University.” You’re not lying and saying you earned a degree, but are noting that you did complete college-level coursework in the field.
  • Include any licenses or certifications you’ve earned, especially if you work in a trade field or an area where these designations are important.

What about those continuing education or professional development courses you’ve taken? Those should be included on your resume too, assuming they are relevant to the type of position you are seeking. If you have taken multiple courses, you may want to include this as a separate section.

Keep in mind what employers are looking for. While you may be proud that you earned a 3.8 GPA, it probably won’t matter much to an employer if you graduated 20 years ago. After all, by this point it is your career experience and accomplishments that they will be focused on. The same is true for individuals who graduated five years ago – employers are interested in seeing how you have applied what you have learned to the business world and what the results have been.

Education is very important because it shows your academic training and a solid foundation, but it’s not the only thing that matters. On-the-job training and experience count too. Read the job description carefully to see what employers want, and organize your resume in a way that makes sense for your career and educational history.