Remember that for school leavers, you might not have conventional work experience – and you might therefore need to think about alternative experience to put in this section. Our page with our downloadable CV for 13, 14 and 15 year olds also includes guidance on alternative work experience which you may find useful. If you can’t find anything at all to put in this section, the best course of action is to remove it and replace it with a skills section. The same page has a good amount of guidance on hard skills and soft skills, with examples of how to provide evidence for your prospective employer.
Education – does it have to be on your CV?
If you passed through education with flying colours, then you’re probably not going to ask this question. It would be very easy for you to show off your grades and qualifications every time you apply for a job. But that doesn’t mean to say your focus should still be on your education.
A high achiever at school, college or university may or may not need to provide their grades. A lot depends on how far through their career they are, and whether or not it is important to the employer.
The ‘do I put my education down on my CV?’ question is a very difficult one to answer. Ultimately, it really does depend on many factors. So to help you decide, here are a few different scenarios that we will briefly cover.
Does your education need to be on your CV? Let’s find out…
If I have high grades
Someone who achieved high grades in education would certainly benefit for the most part with stating this on their CV. Even if the role is clearly very dependant on experience over education, the employer will be impressed.
Any outstanding achievements should be showcased and stand proud on your CV. However, if experience is valued more for the role, then don’t take up too much space. State your academic achievements in a simple listed format. For instance, the place of education, the chosen subject, the grade achieved, and the date you attended.
When applying for a role that will favour your academic achievements, you of course need to go into more detail. But try to focus upon the more relevant achievements if you decide to expand upon them. The employer is always going to be interested in outstanding achievements, but will always lean more towards relevant skills, qualifications and experience. That is what really matters to them!
So try to pick certain aspects of your education and list a few important points. For example, maybe you wrote a dissertation on a particular field of study which is relevant to the employer. This would be a fantastic place to start, where you could go into a little detail of what you wrote. You may even decide to attach a copy of your dissertation.
If I have good grades
Achieving good, but not exceptional grades could still work to your advantage. In some instances you may only need a GCSE ‘C’ grade in Maths and English to gain an apprenticeship, so that’s all you may decide to put on your CV. Your ‘E’ grade in History could be completely irrelevant to the plumbing course you’re trying to get on.
If I have poor grades
Writing a CV can be a difficult task when faced with putting down low grades. If you under-achieved at school, college or even university, you may be struggling to know how to approach this. The path ahead could be a worrying one, but remember that there are lots of options out there.
As a school leaver you have a few options to get your foot on the ladder. The first being an apprenticeship, which is a fantastic way to gain a qualification and possibly even a job at the end. Some schemes also offer the chance for important subjects to be taken again at GCSE level. Maths and English are the two which are favoured by most employers, and you may have the chance to study again.
The second option is to study a qualification and dig deeper to find your academic side. This could be at college or even an online course. But you must decide upon the career you’d like to pursue, so you can focus your efforts.
So many school leavers are unsure of what they want to do, and waste many months and years studying for a qualification they never use. Don’t be that person, and do your research before you commit to further education.
Another topic for discussion is pitting experience against education. Which one should you focus upon? For a more in-depth guide, please read our article – Experience vs. Education – which one matters for your CV?