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So you’ve been taking some online courses. You’ve learned a ton, and you’ve even been using your new skills at work or to develop a side project.
But now you’re contemplating a career move and wondering how (and even whether) to include your continuing education on your resume. You’re right to approach this task thoughtfully. Online courses are still relatively new, recruiters can be skeptical and in certain cases, listing your online education can actually make your resume worse.
Whether you aced your marketing MOOC, killed it in full stack web development Bootcamp, or taught yourself graphic design, here are some of their tips on how to tell that story in your application:
Think of a proper place
Across the board, the hiring managers and recruiters I spoke with agreed that 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.
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. 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.
Relevance is important
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. In that case, it would be relevant to include any sales training or management courses you participated in.
Include only those courses that are relevant to the work you expect to do. We suggest 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.
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. 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.
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 about online courses or a university degree—it’s how you’ve put that education to work that really counts.
It’s crucial for candidates to demonstrate that they’re keeping their skills fresh. So, don’t just list a class you took, including a special project, or pro-bono work with your favorite charity to provide context around the results you’ve brought using that new skill.
The candidate’s degrees are in unrelated fields, but he has listed several data science courses on his resume. He has also successfully completed several projects and competitions on a popular data science site.
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.
Listing online classes on your resume is a definite do. Just make sure you do it thoughtfully so you’re sending the right message about your continuing education. After all, you worked hard to complete all these courses in your free time, you owe it to yourself to make sure they count.
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