In the digital age, learning is unlimited. Education arrives on demand, ready to change lives. Use online courses to add new skills to your toolbox, and you become more employable, ready to take on jobs that weren’t even invented 10 years ago.
Even K-12 students are learning the skills and agility to succeed in a highly competitive, global economy.
Still, the question lingers. Should you include an online course on your resume? The answer depends on the circumstances, but when it’s done right, a resume listing of courses and the skills they taught can open doors to new opportunities.
Why Add Your Online Classes to Your Resume?
Online learning offers efficient, convenient ways to add in-demand skills to your portfolio, or to just learn more about an area that everyone’s talking about. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, offer free classes from top experts in their fields. Colleges worldwide offer opportunities to take their courses online, even for those who aren’t earning a degree. Cyber charter schools for K-12 students have the flexibility to offer a wealth of topics, allowing students to explore their areas of interest and build the skills to gain entry into today’s exciting fields.
With all this swirling around, you might be wondering whether to include online education on resumes. Some things haven’t changed. Most recruiters still want to see the experience that job candidates bring to the table, especially for IT jobs. However, as more people are beginning to take the initiative to augment their skills, employers are coming around to see the value of online courses. Although experience matters, many employers look first for the soft skills that demonstrate desirable character traits — creativity, risk-taking, self-direction, perseverance. All bring value to the workplace, and all are on display through online learning.
In short, employers and recruiters are paying attention, and anyone who wants to stand out from the crowd by building new skills and showing a go-getter attitude can find an edge in online learning.
When to Include Online Courses in a Resume
Before deciding on the wisdom of adding online courses to a resume, it’s important to think about why you took the courses in the first place. Look for courses that help you build a basic foundation in the field that interests you, and then continue with learning that intensifies the skills that will make you a versatile, valued employee.
Then comes the question of adding online education on your resume. The purpose of a resume is selling yourself to a recruiter, so consider these points when deciding whether to list it.
- You can prove its relevancy in an interview: Just taking a class doesn’t earn points, but talking about it cogently and explaining how it makes you a strong candidate for the job gets the interviewer’s attention.
- It came from a professional source: Some online courses are taught by leading professionals in their fields. Consider listing those classes, but skip the short-term courses that introduce a topic or help you brush up on your skills.
- It demonstrates that you have crucial skills for the job: Recruiters want experience, but how do you build experience if you can’t get the job? If you worked hard to complete online courses and can show that you took them seriously, employers might be willing to take a chance on your diligence and willingness to learn.
- You don’t have a college degree: Employers often want to see college degrees, but they’re also eager to hire the best person for the job. An online course shows your knowledge in a field, whether or not you have a college diploma.
- You have space on the resume: You want to show employers your best self. They don’t need to know everything you’ve ever done. If the online course bumps the resume into another page, leave it out, especially if you already have relevant experience and higher education.
- You’re changing careers: The average person will change careers five to seven times. In fact, one survey showed that only 14 percent of U.S. workers believe they have the best jobs, and more than half want a career change. Online courses help you collect the skills to get in the door of new professions.
- You want to show off your soft skills: You are disciplined and curious. You’re a lifelong learner. Employers can’t always tell from an interview whether you have the kind of soft skills they need, but an online course on the resume — backed up by your ability to articulate what you learned and why it’s relevant — puts those skills in tangible form.
When Not to List Online Courses in Your Resume
Putting online courses in your resume can be helpful, but there are reasons to avoid it, too. Consider these factors.
- The course is too basic: Courses that prove your mastery of a valuable or highly technical skill deserve a spotlight, but leave out those that simply offer tips on doing things better, such as writing a sharper blog post or making the most of an editing app.
- It’s not relevant or valued in your industry: Many career ladders are built on attainment of specific certifications or credentials. Those letters after your name designate that you studied the highest standards in your field and proved your mastery. Although many good online courses can sharpen your skills, they don’t carry the same weight as industry-recognized certifications.
- Many classes are listed already: Don’t list every course you’ve ever taken. Edit it down to the most relevant three or four.
- It’s not relevant to the job: This is Resume 101, but make sure that every resume you send is tailored to the job you’re seeking. Eye-tracking studies show that interviewers spend 7.4 seconds on the initial screen of a resume. If the page is clogged with irrelevance, you won’t even make it past the first cut.
In Which Section of Your Resume Should Your Online Classes Go?
So you’ve decided to include online classes on your resume. The next question is: How do you do it? With limited space, you need to make decisions on how to frame your skills and attributes to their best advantage.
Knowing how to list online courses on a resume gives you an advantage over the competition, so try one of these options.
- Create a new section on your resume. Title it “Skills and objectives,” “Personal advancement” or “Professional development.” Showcase your initiative by listing meaningful online courses and other skill-building pursuits.
- Include online learning in the education section. This is especially helpful if you haven’t completed a degree program or are applying for a job unrelated to your degree.
- Include your certification in your contact info or the resume objective (“A Registered Nurse looking for exciting opportunities …”), or list it in a side column.
- If you have more than one certification, create a special section for all of them.
Always write out the full names of certifications, so they’ll be picked up by the automated applicant tracking systems that weed out unqualified job candidates. However you decide to list your online courses, follow each course title with a couple of bullet points about the skills it taught you and any certifications earned.
Can Online Certifications Be Included on a Resume?
Certifications represent important milestones in careers. People who earn certifications or credentials take courses from accredited institutions, pass tests and complete other requirements to prove their expertise. Certification holders might agree to abide by a code of ethics demonstrating their commitment to the highest professionalism.
In legal, health care, accounting, finance and other professions, certifications are often required. Other fields, including technology, offer certifications in highly specialized areas.
In some fields, such as architecture, certifications aren’t common — which makes earning one a great way to stand out from the competition. Required certifications prepare their holders for career advancement, while voluntary certifications can show that recent college graduates or career changers are ready to enter the field.
Many certifications are delivered through online learning, and they can be a great addition to a resume. However, the same rules apply when deciding whether to list them. Make sure that your online certification listed on a resume is:
- Relevant to the job being sought.
- Credible. The institution issuing the certification must be accredited and recognized within the field. Taking random courses online does not constitute earning a certification.
- Specific. Add examples of projects you’ve worked on and skills learned through the certification process.
- Current. Don’t list old or expired certifications.
Where Else Can You Present Your Online Class Experience?
Even if it doesn’t fit a resume, you can list your online courses in these places, where there’s room to show off your curiosity and thirst for learning.
- Your LinkedIn profile. The LinkedIn template includes “Education” and “Licenses & Certifications” options, with fields that allow you to enter the details.
- The cover letter: It’s the first thing the recruiter sees. This is where your voice comes through and connects with the recruiter on a personal level. If you’re submitting electronically, include links to the courses so the recruiter can see the depth of material covered.
- The bio sections of your professional online presence, such as websites, Facebook pages and other social media.
How CCA Helps Students Craft Their Resumes
As a public school, CCA believes in giving back to communities and taxpayers by preparing students to be the responsible workers and good citizens of tomorrow. CCA’s unique learning opportunities focus on career readiness. Through CCAWorks, our career-readiness initiative, CCA pledges to provide students with 21st century skills, help them discover future careers and promote their success in careers and life.
CCA’s personalized, career-focused learning approach is steeped with:
– Career-oriented courses: Even in elementary school, CCA courses link academic learning to real-life applications. Students don’t just learn the principles of plant life, for instance, but they explore careers in botany and landscaping. In middle and high school, counselors and teachers work with students to craft learning plans and course schedules suited to their interests.
– Career-exploration events: Intensive, hands-on field trips take learners inside exciting workplaces. Through behind-the-scenes exposure to health care, animal care, media and entertainment, protective services and other fields, students find the areas that intrigue them.
– College and career counseling: Internships, college-credit courses, career research, job shadowing, interview skills and workplace norms — CCA puts its guidance and counseling teams to work on preparing your child for the workplace of the future.
– Resume building: The right resume is like a golden ticket to a dream career. The concise, crisp resume rises to the top of the pile meant for interview candidates. CCA’s guidance and counseling teams do more than help students learn to write attention-getting resumes. They help students build the skills that open doors and exceed workplace expectations.
Online Courses Open Doors to Careers
Online courses fuel the drive to learn. They offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise, all delivered with the flexibility that accommodates your schedule. Online courses create the power to learn more, earn more, land a dream job, win promotions and change careers. CCA prepares young learners to approach their careers with confidence, as self-driven, 21st century learners ready to fill their resumes with excellence in online learning and real-world experience. Contact CCA today to learn more about college and career readiness that prepares your child for lifetime success.