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by Dimitar Karamarinov | September 09, 2020


Recruiters search for candidates who can add value to organizations. As an applicant, your job is to help recruiters see that you can add this value. You do this through our resume, showcasing the education, experience, and training that sets you apart from the competition. When you also have certificates and additional courses, these should become a vital part of your resume, giving recruiters (and employers) an even better idea of your skill set—as well as your proactive personality.

Select trustworthy courses only

Sometimes, recruiters are skeptical of online courses, so be careful when you list yours on your resume. If placed inappropriately or worded poorly, recruiters may deem your skills unreliable and leave your resume “on file.”

Also, while online courses build upon your professional growth and personality as a candidate, recruiters and employers sometimes see less value in remote classes. So be mindful of what you list and include only online courses from trustworthy institutions. Of course, passing a Cambridge exam weighs more heavily than receiving a certificate of completion from an unknown, obscure academy.

Strategically place courses on your resume

Online courses particularly strengthen the resumes of candidates with little experience in the field they're hoping to join. For experienced candidates, courses are links between formal education and work experience. No matter which candidate you are, never make the online course the center of your resume. Instead, keep your list of courses short, confine the classes to a small designated area on your resume, and strategically place them.

For example, you might create a specific section with a title such as "Professional Development" for the online courses in your resume. You could place this below your "Work Experience"—always the primary focus of your resume. The key with your courses is to make sure they provide value but don't take up too much attention.

Other strategic places to put them include in the "Education" section of your resume (perfect for junior candidates with no experience) and your cover letter (to create a personal connection with the recruiter and an opening to discuss your relevant skills).

Also, it's good practice to only include completed courses and their major takeaways. And always be concise. Never ramble on about your courses.

Only include relevant courses

When you're up for a sales job, few recruiters will likely care if you have an American History course certificate. The same goes for irrelevant hobbies and interests. While they might make you stand out to some recruiters, to most they're not too relevant. Recruiters and employers are interested in expertise and skills that add value to the position at hand. So, only include online courses relevant to the position, and outline their value to the position.

For example, a data analysis course is beneficial to marketing professionals, and could improve their chances of receiving a higher salary. In fact, research shows that having a hybrid skill can boost your salary by as much as 40 percent.

Omit intro classes

When you list courses on your resume, you want to present yourself as an expert for the job. Don't make an introductory level online course part of your achievement list. Intro classes under the education section can make a candidate appear less qualified. But there might be a time and place for them. You can include intro online classes on your resume if they're part of a whole curriculum program that you completed. Otherwise, talk about your intro classes as part of your professional journey during your interview.

For instance, a Certified Information Systems Auditor online certification is a perfect addition to your resume if you're an auditor. But Introduction to Financial Accounting might be too basic to include. 

Showcase your knowledge

If you really want your resume to stand out, go beyond simple certificate and course lists. Add weight to your resume and make it more valuable to recruiters by identifying all the relevant courses for the job, listing important information you've learned from each course and highlighting your professional achievements. 

When you show what you've learned, recruiters can easily see your commitment. It also shows your awareness of the current market and e-learning trends. Add any outside projects related to the mentioned courses to provide context. 

Prepare to speak about your courses in interviews

Now that you know how to list online courses on your resume, you need to prepare for the interview. Since online courses and training stand out, they usually grab the attention of the interviewers—a brilliant resume with online courses provokes conversation. So, prepare to receive questions such as:

  • Why did you enroll in this online course?
  • What information did you learn from these courses? 
  • Why did you feel the need to further your education?
  • How did your skills change?
  • How was your experience?

Also, you'll likely have to answer specific technical questions if your online course claim certain technical expertise. So make sure you're ready for a detailed Q&A session regarding all of your certifications and courses.

Dimitar Karamarinov is an award-winning digital professional with a background in multimedia and a wide range of digital mediums. He has more than a decade of experience in audio, graphic, and motion design, and other forms of business and communication. He has experience working for Entrepreneur Franchise, Inc., and other companies, as well as with various nonprofits.