We all have taken online courses at some point during our course of Continuous Personal Development. The problem then is how to represent or add these certificates to your resume.
Online courses are still relatively new, recruiters can be skeptical and in certain cases, listing your online education can actually make your resume worse.
So, whether you aced your marketing MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), killed it in coding bootcamp, or taught yourself graphic design, here are some of their tips on how to tell that story in your application:
1. Put Them In Their Proper Place
MOOCs and other online courses can help make the case that you can do the job. However, they also think these classes shouldn’t be the star of the show. As Anne Lewis, the Director of Sales and Recruitment for Betts Recruiting, a firm specializing in recruitment for technology companies, said, “In general, MOOCs can help to make candidate profiles stronger, especially junior candidates who don’t have as much experience.”
If you’ve taken courses that have taught you something that will help you on the job, by all means, include them on your resume, she says. Just keep the list of courses short, and confine them to a single, small area, such as a “Professional Training” section under your work history.
2. Keep It Relevant
Kudos for being a lifelong learner, but in all honesty, no one cares that you studied Ancient Greek Art when you’re up for a job in the sales department. You wouldn’t list every course from your college transcript, so why do it with your online learning?
Instead, include only those courses that are relevant to the work you expect to do. Lewis suggests editing the list of courses on your resume depending on the job for which you’re applying. “It’s all about positioning these certifications as relevant to a particular role and outlining how [they] add value,” she says.
3. Skip The Intro Classes
Multiple recruiters mentioned that listing introductory-level online courses can make a candidate look bad when the expectation is that he or she will be an expert.
Muse coach Erica Breuer says she advises her clients to include details about their professional development—including online courses—only when they’ve completed a major certification or other notable credential.” You want anything on your resume to bolster your credibility: Don’t waste lines on a low-level course that’s not adding to what you’d bring to the table.
4. Show How You Put Your Skills Into Practice
Recruiters were also in agreement that providing evidence of how you put your skills into practice can help strengthen the case that your continuing education meant something. While your education is important—whether we’re talking online courses or a university degree—it’s how you’ve put that education to work that really counts.
So, don’t just list a class you took, include a special project to provide context around the results you’ve brought using that new skill.”
5. Prepared To Be Quizzed
OK, this one is kind of a bonus, because it’s about your interview. If you list online courses, expect an open-ended question like, “Your resume lists a digital marketing class. What can you tell me about that experience?” Or you may have to field more specific questions, especially if you are claiming technical expertise.
So, while you’re thinking about your answers to common interview questions, also make a list of some you might be asked about your studies and come up with answers for each of them.
Please share your thoughts and concerns with us in the comment section below.