Continuing your education online is a great way to keep your skills sharp, stay on top of industry trends, and impress future employers, but how to list them on your resume can be tricky. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your online courses when you're on the job hunt.
There are many compelling reasons to take an online course. Whether you’re supplementing your traditional education, sharpening your existing skills, or diving into a new career, the knowledge gained in online courses can be beneficial to your personal and professional life. The questions is—how can you leverage the courses you’ve completed in your job hunt?
Listing online courses on your resume is a definite “do” in a competitive tech landscape, but it’s important to position them properly (literally). Here are some tips for ensuring that your extra education is taken into account.
Keep it Relevant
Anytime you’re applying for a new position, you should be tailoring your resume or CV to the requirements. This means listing your online courses as well as your experience, because your Duolingo Italian Language course may not be relevant to the SysAdmin job for which you are applying.
The courses listed should not only be relevant to your field, but also the specific job application. Many companies are now using automated screening as a first line of defense against unqualified applicants, so be sure to update the language in the course description to match any keywords used in the job description.
That being said, if you are passionate about your Italian heritage and want to highlight that on your resume, create a section for your interests. Employers are often hiring for personality alongside skill.
Leave Intro Classes to the Beginners
If you’re applying for a mid-level position at a tech company, it may not be in your best interest to list the Intro to CSS course that you took 6 years ago. All of the education and additional information on your resume should reflect your level of experience, and should always bolster your credibility. Listing entry level courses could hurt your reputation and appearance of expertise, so opt instead for the courses related to certifications or advanced concepts.
Prove the Value
Just as there shouldn’t be any items in your portfolio that are presented without explanation, if you’re going to list courses on your resume they should be put into a real-world context. Explain—or better yet, show—how you’ve put the skills learned in an online course to work in real life.
Did you update your personal website? Do some pro-bono work for a local nonprofit to get experience? Help a colleague complete a special project? Include some high-level details about what you’ve learned and how you’ve put it to good use.
Put it in the Right Place
As far as adding online courses into the body of your resume, you have a few options. One way to draw special attention to the courses you have completed is to add a section titled “Professional Development”. This is an effective and unique method, especially if the courses you’ve taken highlight your desire to stay on top of industry trends. This section should come after Experience and Education, and could look something like this:
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Experts Exchange (Leading online technology community)
Learned techniques for implementation, configuration, and administration of Citrix XenServer
Successfully migrated a local small business to XenServer two weeks after completion
Another option is to add your coursework directly into the “Education” section. List your online courses directly after your college or university degrees, and include a brief description of the platform where the course was completed along with any key takeaways and real-life projects.
Continuing to pursue education in your field after you’ve already graduated or are halfway into your career not only helps develop your skillset and stay up to date, it shows potential employers that you have drive and determination. As long as you can apply what you’ve learned in a meaningful way, adding online courses to your resume should be a slam dunk.