When searching for a new hire, different employers look for different things, but they’re all trying to answer the same overarching question: can this individual add value to my business?
As a strong potential candidate, it’s your job to help them reach the right conclusion. It can be a difficult task to set yourself apart from the crowd, but showcasing your completion of relevant online courses is a great starting point. With that in mind, here are three reasons why you should add online courses to your resume:
1. It makes for a better interview.
Employers use interviews to gauge the value you can add to their company, and it’s important to set yourself apart from the other applicants. It’s not every day that an interviewer sees an online course or program on a resume (though it is becoming more common). Adding relevant online coursework can really help you stand out. It’s unique and invites conversation, so be prepared to answer questions. You could expect to be asked:
- What drove you to enroll in these courses and further your education?
- What knowledge did you gain from the courses?
- What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
One of our edX learners, Daniel, took the Six Sigma Professional Certificate program from TUMx and used the knowledge that he learned to help him get a new job and further his career in industrial engineering and production management.
“I had an additional certificate to differentiate myself from other job applicants and it gave me the confidence to apply to more advanced positions. It really gave my CV a boost! It demonstrated my motivation due to the fact that the certificate was earned in my free time,” Daniel said.
2. It displays relevant, standout skill sets.
Applicants often struggle to convey what they can actually do for a company. Speaking confidently about a skillset that you’ve developed can help guide interviewers in the right direction. Online courses on your CV provides a clear-cut example of what you know and what you can get done.
Online courses are also a great way to showcase unique skills that set you apart from other qualified candidates, which is becoming increasingly important as more and more companies look for candidates with a diverse mix of experience (sometimes called “hybrid skills”).
For example, if you’re a marketing professional, it can be beneficial to highlight additional data analysis skills. These skills may even help you negotiate a higher salary. According to Burning Glass Technologies, often, the introduction of a single hybrid skill can increase salaries by up to 40%.
3. It shows character.
Enrolling in an online education, in and of itself, is impressive. It demonstrates personal drive and discipline, intellectual maturity, curiosity, and a strong willingness to learn—all of which are important to employers.
It’s difficult for interviewers to always gauge these qualities, but it’s what they’re trying to do. They want to see that you’re willing to go the extra mile because that indicates passion, and passion indicates value.
Bear in mind, though, that this only applies if you are able to talk about what you learned and how it’s relevant to the position.
Note: Generally, it’s not relevant to list a course unrelated to the position, such as one about the American Civil War. An interest section on your resume, however, is a great place for this. Employers are searching for talent, but they’re also looking for personality. If you’re passionate about it, include it.
But how should you actually go about adding online courses and programs to your resume?
One of the best ways to incorporate online courses into your resume is by means of a cover letter. It allows you to connect with a recruiter or hiring manager on a personal level and is a great place to discuss the professional skills that you’ve acquired and how they relate to the position. If you’re submitting your resume electronically, you can even link to the course profiles.
A second option is to create an entirely new section on your resume, such as “skills and objectives,” “personal advancement,” or “professional development.” Another is to include your online learning experience in the education section of your resume. This can be especially useful if you haven’t completed a degree program or if you’re applying for a job that’s unrelated to your degree.
In any case, only include the courses that you completed or earned a certificate in and the major takeaways of each. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t overdo it either. Be concise and make sure that everything you include is relevant to the job.
This might look something like:
- Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification and Six Sigma and Lean: Quantitative Tools for Quality and Productivity Professional Certificate – Technische Universität München (TUM) (2019)
- Learned fundamentals of Six Sigma methodology and Lean Manufacturing
- Earned the TUM Lean and Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification
- Applied Scrum for Agile Project Management – University System of Maryland & The University of Maryland, College Park (2020)
- Gained ability to build, run, and scale a successful scrum team
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Science: Mechanical Engineering (2016)
edX, Inc. (online learning platform)
Used edX.org, an online learning platform, to take courses offered by accredited universities and training programs, including Harvard and Georgia Tech, to acquire skills in: R and Python.
- Data Science: R Basics – Harvard University (2020)
- Developed basic R syntax, foundational R programming concepts, and operations in R such as sorting, data wrangling using dplyr, and making plots.
- Computing in Python I: Fundamentals and Procedural Programming – Georgia Tech (2020)
- Learned how to write programs in Python that use variables, mathematical operators, and logical operators.
Want to start adding MOOCs to your own resume? Here’s some to get you started: