With so many different ways to approach this, here's how we advise writing first class honours on a CV

You've reached the pinnacle of your academic life, securing a degree in your favourite subject. And to top it all, it's a first class honours degree, the highest accolade you could have achieved. Well done you. Now it's time to search for a job. But how to write first class honours on a CV? There are so many different ways of spelling it out, that it can be confusing.

If you follow our tips below, you'll gain a more in-depth understanding of how to present your brilliant academic achievement on your job search documents.

What is a first class honours degree?

Let's set the record straight from the start by asking: what is a first class honours degree? All degrees in the UK are awarded depending on how high a percentage you gain, following on from end-of-degree examinations.  

For a first class honours degree, you need to have obtained at least 70% as your overall mark, no matter how many modules you took. Below a first class honours is the second class honours bracket, which is divided into upper second class, more commonly known as a 2:1 (pronounced two one), and a lower second class honours degree, or 2:2 (pronounced two two).

If you received a 2:1, you'll have achieved between 60% and 69%, and between 50% to 59% for a 2:2. A third class honours degree, one where you've achieved between 40% and 49%, is known as a third, and is still a valid qualification. However, it's rarely mentioned on a CV as it's the lowest honours degree classification you can get.

Your graduate CV

Chances are you've little or no experience in the world of work, so any achievements or accolades you do have are going to count for everything. This is why you need to know how to write first class honours on a CV to make your CV stand out.

At the top of the page, set out your contact details, which should include your name, location, mobile number, email address, and a link to your LinkedIn profile page, if you have one. Do not add anything such as gender, date of birth, or a photo, as they're not required and can lead to different types of discrimination or unconscious bias.

Under the contact details, you should compile the profile section, summarising your key skills and strengths in three or four sentences that really show off your capabilities to a prospective employer .

The education section

The education section should be placed right underneath your personal profile. The purpose of this is to show your recent academic qualifications straight away, so that the person reading can immediately spot that you're a graduate and that you've secured a first class degree.

You're a special case. Most other CVs have the education section after the career summary. Back in the day, education was always put first, even if you hadn't attended an educational establishment for 30 years! Now it's seen as feasible for recent graduates and school leavers to attach more importance to this than those job seekers with actual experience in the job market.

So, let's get down to how to write first class honours on a CV…

There are so many different ways of spelling out your achievement, but the main aim is to make it as clear and obvious as possible so that the reader can spot it straightaway.

Below are the best examples of how to write first class honours on a CV:

  • BA (Hons) in English Literature, First Class, Loughborough University (2022)

or

  • BSc (Hons) in Maths, 1st Class, University of Manchester (2022)

Both are valid ways of presenting your degree, as they are well set out and easy to read. 

Stating the percentage of your first class degree

While securing a first class degree is brilliant in itself, if you've really excelled and achieved way above the 70% required, then you'd be well within your rights to show this off. Remember, your CV is the place where you can really boast about your achievements.

While it's not usually a requirement for a job application, and most prospective employers don't ask for it, they could be more likely to choose a candidate with a higher percentage, as long as they tick all the right boxes in other areas.

Presenting your percentage can look something like this:

  • BA (Hons) in Applied Languages, First Class (88%), University of Portsmouth (2022)

or

  • BSc (Hons) in Physics, 1st Class (91%), Southampton University (2022)

However, you might not know the overall percentage you got if you went to a university where this information was not divulged. Don't panic. You can either contact your university to see if they hold this information or just omit this information. 

How long do you need to include a first class honours on your CV?

Once you get your first, second or third job, your first class honours degree becomes less and less important. You'll be learning and cementing new key skills the further you climb up the career ladder, so your education section will slip further down the CV until it's under your career summary - and often at the end of the second page, once you get really deep into your career.

While you may still want to include details of your degree on your CV for the rest of your working life, such as the type of degree, subject matter, and name of the university, writing first class honours on your CV won't be so necessary. This is because you'll have proven yourself in your work life and, if you completed your degree more than five years before, you can remove the grade.

The key takeaway

Taking the time and effort to showcase your achievements on your CV is so worth it. You're at the top of your game holding a first class degree, so make sure everyone knows about it!

Getting a CV job-ready can be confusing and time consuming, especially if you're still not sure how to show off your grade. Let the professionals at TopCV take the strain. Check out our CV review service, where your current CV will be checked over… for free!   

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