How to Include Certifications on Your Resume

How to Include Certifications on Your Resume

In this day and age, certifications can be the key to getting a job offer. But you have a lot to include on your resume, so where do certifications fit in? Before you start sending out job applications, find out where and how you can include this detail on your resume.

The Importance of Certifications

When you have certifications, you give hiring managers insight into you. For one, they can tell you have industry-specific knowledge. It's not good enough to explain you did basic coding as part of your previous job duties. Although you claim to have done the coding, your statement shows no level of skill. However, a certification is a concrete demonstration of your skill level. A certificate in coding tells the hiring manager you are skilled enough to work for them.

Certifications also show your dedication to an industry. When employees don't have much time or energy put into their career, they tend to move from job to job. Because it takes so much effort to fill new vacancies, managers don't want this to happen. They prefer to hire someone who will stick around. If you invested your time or money into a certification, you have a vested interest in your career and are more likely to have longevity as an employee.

Finally, there's the fact that your certifications make you stand out. In a competitive job market, every little bit matters. You may be one of the only job applicants with a certain certification. When a hiring manager sees it, they could put your resume at the top of the pile. At the very least, it sets you apart from many other applicants.

Which Certifications Matter?

Before you learn how to include certifications on your resume, you should understand which certifications matter. After all, a certification you earned 20 years ago may no longer mean anything today. Likewise, a certification from an unrelated industry may not belong on your resume.

So what does belong? First, consider whether or not the certification is relevant. If you received a certification in a technology that is no longer current, leave it off your resume. It could make you seem out of touch with current technology. Secondly, think about the job listing. You don't want to include a list of ten certifications because the relevant ones will get lost in the mix. To make the most essential certifications shine, only have ones that apply to the position.

If you're not sure which certifications matter, review job ads for your desired position. They might include several recommended or required certifications. In some cases, you may find it necessary to take a few courses. Not all certifications are equally beneficial. Before you sign up for a program, take the time to research it thoroughly.

Have a Dedicated Section for Certifications

One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to list your certifications with skills or achievements. While it might not seem to matter, the layout of your resume affects the way applicant tracking systems (ATS) read your document. If you don't have an entire section for your certifications, an ATS might think you're unqualified.

Even if you only have one certification, You should still have an entire section for it. Make it look more substantial by including details about the certification, like the issue date and what you learned. If there's no clear link to how this relates to the job you're applying for, you may want to include a sentence or two about why it's relevant.

You may also be able to beef up this section by adding in certifications you're working on. However, be transparent and put the expected completion date. Never pretend you've completed a certification when you haven't yet done so.

List Your Certifications Prominently

When most people work on their resume, they place a list of certifications at the bottom. However, there's a chance the person reading your resume won't even get to the bottom of your document. You should place your list of certifications at the top of your resume.

Additionally, mention your certifications more than once. When you describe the duties of a job, include a mention of how you used the certification. To keep things short, you can use the acronym for the certification. Just be sure you include the acronym the first time you mention the certification, otherwise, the hiring manager may not know what you're referring to.

It may be appropriate to bold case the certifications. As mentioned before, a hiring manager may not read your whole resume. You can bring attention to the right details by making your certifications bold.

Include Lapsed Certifications

As long as your prior certifications are relevant to the job, you might want to include them after they lapse. In most situations, lapsed certifications are easy to renew. There are exceptions to this, and the length of the lapse matters.

With that said, think about whether or not the lapsed certification adds value to your resume. If you had your CCNA expire less than a year ago, you can easily renew it. A hiring manager would prefer to hire someone with a recently expired CCNA than someone with none.

Don't Only Rely on Certifications

While your certifications can help you get an interview or even a job offer, they're not the only key to success. If you rely too heavily on your certifications, you could be missing something else. As you look over your resume, spend time on every section.

If you feel lost or confused, check out resumes from others in your field. You can look on social media or platforms like LinkedIn for resume examples. Are the layouts similar to yours? What about the certifications?

With a little effort, your resume can truly make you stand out. Your certifications and your qualifications could take you anywhere, as long as you apply for the right jobs.

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