I am finishing my MBA at a well-known East Coast University.  I am currently employed but I would like to attend the school sponsored career day sessions that will be attended by a couple of dozen corporate recruiters.  This brings me to my question:  Where should academic credentials be placed in the resume? My graduate college placement office requires that we use their resume format —academic credentials at the top of the document — or we will not be allowed to register for career day interviews. I have more than nine years of work experience, two years as a member of an executive team. Our Chief Human Resource Officer said academic credentials should be placed at the bottom of the resume. That makes more sense to me because most of my classmates do not have the same amount or level of experience that I have. I want to highlight my experience to differentiate myself from everyone else who will be attending the fair.  Who is right on this issue?  What say ye?      Event/conference planner, New York

The rule of thumb is fairly straight forward:  If you are a new graduate without much work experience, then placing your academic credentials and certifications at the top of the resume is considered to be appropriate. Absent experience, recruiters are hiring your education and your personality, not your record of achievement, hence the top-of-the-resume placement.

Executives with practical work experience, which appears to be the case in your situation, should not give the academic credentials top billing.  Executive recruiters are more interested in your professional summary and relevant experience.  That is not to say that your MBA is not important, because it is. It just does not rise to the level of importance of that which we are more interested in experience that is pertinent and your history of accomplishment.  We want to know if you can meet our needs, fix our problem or address whatever other reason we may be recruiting you.

The top of any resume is very valuable real estate.  Recruiters without the help/hinderance of an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) must quickly, visually review resumes. Having a Professional Summary at the top of the resume helps the recruiter quickly determine whether you should be advanced in the search or sent a “regrets” email.    

Now, as far as your graduate school career office is concerned, while they may be wrong about this particular resume issue, it would be foolish to argue the point.  Follow their rules and attend the job fair.  You might well find your next better position.   Once out of the door, with your degree in hand, then change your resume to be more recruiter/real-world friendly. 

If you have a question, you can contact John at AsktheRecruitert@JohnGSelf.Com.