Online Courses – Are They Really Helping You?

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.

So, whether you’ve aced your marketing MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), killed it in coding bootcamp, or taught yourself graphic design; here are some tips on how to tell that story on your resume:

1. Put Them in Their Proper Place

Across the board, the hiring managers and recruiters 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. In general, MOOCs can help to make candidate profiles stronger, especially junior candidates that don’t have as much experience.

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.

2. Keep it Relevant

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. You wouldn’t list every course from your college transcript, so why do it with your online learning?

Instead, include only those courses that are relevant to the work you expect to do. Edit 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.

3. Skip the Intro Classes

Listing introductory-level online courses can make a candidate look bad when the expectation is that he or she will be an expert.

It’s advised that applicants should include details about their professional development—including online courses—only when they’ve completed a major certification or other notable credential. You want everything 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.

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