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What comes first on a CV?

Qualifications versus Experience?

In the competitive job market that exists today, most job seekers are aware of the crucial importance of writing a CV that attracts and retains recruiter and employer interest. For this reason it is most important that a CV plays to jobseeker's strength, and that the text is prioritised accordingly.

Judging from the following frequently asked questions, many job seekers are unsure how best to prioritise and present their information.:..

• Where should I include qualifications in my CV?

• How should I layout the qualifications on my CV? Chronologically?

• What information should be included?

• Should I change the position of my qualifications in the CV depending on the work I want?"



"Where should I include qualifications in my CV"

In the case of recently qualified jobseekers, and if their educational background is a strong selling point, a great deal of value will be gained by placing the Qualifications and Training section towards the higher end of a CV.

For example, if you have recently completed a highly recommended City & Guilds vocational course and attained a qualification in midwifery, nursing, beauty, engineering, then it makes sense to draw attention to these very marketable, much in demand skills in the top half of the CV - directly below the Profile.

Conversely, if your work experience is stronger, especially if you have achievements to include, then it makes sense to place this information at the beginning of the CV.

"How should I layout the qualifications on my CV? Chronologically?"

Generally speaking, chronological order tends to be the most favoured format for CVs. Recruiters and employers tend to want to first learn about the current aspect of an applicant's career and work experience.

In the interest of consistency, therefore, it is recommend to keep to a chronological order that places recent qualifications first.

If you have a certificated qualification such as a degree or City & Guilds, it would be a good idea to embolden these in order to ensure they stand out from non-certificated training courses.

What information should be included?

Of particular interest are the dates when you studied, the place of study, name of course, details of examinations that you have passed, and the grades achieved. Also worthy of inclusion would be the course modules studied, thesis or projects undertaken, especially if they are directly relevant to the job you are seeking.
If you are a mature student with a recent degree, then it is less necessary to list the GCSEs you completed many years ago.

Should I change the position of my qualifications in the CV depending on the work I want?

When writing a CV it is really advisable to keep your target audience to the forefront of your mind, and position your qualifications accordingly. For example, if a recently qualified Mechanical & Electrical Engineer and have been awarded a City & Guilds, place this information towards the top of your CV. Conversely, if you have a City & Guilds in Beauty Therapy but are applying for a totally different type of role, the place for that qualification would be lower down on the second page.

In summary, aim to produce an informative CV that is directly relevant to your target job; identify and prioritise your qualifications in line with what the reader is looking for in terms of skills, knowledge and experience.


About the Author:

An Associate of the CIPD, Helga Ann Edge MBA is a sought-after CV and Resume writer, and included in LinkedIn's 'Top 1% Most Viewed LinkedIn Profiles for 2012. Since 1990, she has helped many thousands of clients find not just a job but a rewarding career through her websites -

Follow Helga on Twitter ..


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