How To List Certifications on a Resume
Including certifications on your resume can demonstrate your skills and experience to potential employers and help set your application apart from others. Relevant certifications can show that you are especially qualified for a position and dedicated to your field.
This article will cover what certifications are, when to include them on your resume, and how to do so effectively.
What Are Certifications?
Certifications essentially prove that you have mastered specific skills and met certain qualifications that pertain to your profession. Certifications are typically awarded by official associations, accredited boards, or other well-recognized experts. Often, you must pay a fee, take a course of some kind, and pass an assessment or final exam in order to earn a certification.
There are many different types of certifications available for various professions, such as:
- NCLEX-RN certification for nurses
- Board certification for surgeons
- CPR/lifeguard/first aid/EMT certification
- Teaching certifications
- Business and accounting certifications
- Online certifications for SEO, marketing, etc.
When Should You Include Certifications on Your Resume?
There are three main instances when it’s a good idea to include your certifications on your resume:
If Certifications are Required for the Position
Of course, if a certification is specifically required for the position that you are applying for, you should include that certification on your resume to demonstrate that you are qualified and a good fit for the job. If you don’t list that you have the certification, you may not be considered for the position.
Even if it seems obvious that you have a certain certification (such as if you are a certified nurse applying for a nursing position), it is still important to list the details of your certification in order to be clear about your qualifications and help pass applicant tracking system (ATS) scans.
To Demonstrate Relevant Skills or Experience
In some cases, a certification might not be required for the position that you are applying for, but you might still wish to include a certification that shows you have relevant skills and experience. Additionally, some certifications are only available to professionals who have worked a certain number of years in the field, so including such a certification can serve to verify your level of work experience.
Some employers might not require certain skills, but they may give preference to applicants who possess certain desirable skills and experience.
Certifications are a tangible way to reinforce your skills and experience, which can give you an advantage over applicants who have similar experience but lack the certifications that you have.
To Supplement Limited Work Experience
Finally, it can be beneficial to list your certifications when you have little or no relevant work experience. For example, if you are a high school student applying for your first job and you obtain a lifeguarding certification, your chances of being hired as a lifeguard increase exponentially. This same concept also applies for college students, recent graduates, and those who are changing careers. Investing in your future by obtaining a certification shows employers that you are dedicated to developing your skills and committed to your success in the field.
For the most part, you will likely only want to include certifications that are directly relevant to the position that you are applying for. However, if you have space left over on your resume, you may wish to include other certifications that may not be directly related but that have still helped you gain transferable skills and experience.
Certification Information to Include
If you’ve decided that it makes sense for you to include certifications on your resume, be sure to include these pieces of information for each of your certifications:
List the complete official name of the certification that you have earned. Keep in mind that some hiring managers or recruiters may not be familiar with your certifications, so they might need to research the exact title in order to see how it bolsters your ability to perform in the role. Spell out abbreviations for extra clarity.
Be sure to include the name of the organization, association, board, or entity that gave you the certification to add validity. Again, spell out the full name of the awarding body in case a recruiter or potential employer isn’t familiar with the organization. You can also include a clickable link to the organization’s website if you are submitting your resume online.
It’s also important to list the date that you earned each of your certifications. This shows potential employers how long you’ve been certified in your area of expertise and having the certification date allows them to more easily verify your credentials if necessary. If your certification needs to be renewed periodically, include your most recent renewal date as well as your initial certification date. You might also wish to include an expiration date in this case.
If you are currently in the process of earning a certification, you can still list it on your resume. In that case, include the anticipated certification date and give an indication of how much of the certification process you have already completed.
Relevant Skills Gained
If it’s not immediately apparent what skills you may have gained from a certification, you may also wish to include a brief description of what the certification entails, the skills you gained from completing it, and/or how it’s relevant to the position that you are applying for.
Other Pertinent Information
Depending on the certification, there could be other information that will be helpful for employers to know so you may wish to add more details. For example, some certifications are location-specific, so you may need to include the location parameters of your certification if applicable.
Where To List Certification on Your Resume
There are several different places that you can highlight your certifications on your resume. First, if you have any post-nominal letters or titles (such as PhD, CPA, MD, etc.), you can list these next to your name at the top of your resume. You can also mention relevant certifications in your resume summary and in your education section if it makes sense to do so. Finally, you can create a separate certification section as well.
Examples of Certifications on a Resume
Here’s how certifications might look on your resume:
American Red Cross
Earned November 2021, expires November 2023
In Progress: Marketing Certification
Anticipated completion date: February 2022 (70% complete)
Skills gained: SEO, B2B marketing, content marketing, email funnel creation
Listing certifications on your resume can help reinforce your qualifications for a job and set you apart from other applicants. In general, only list certifications that are relevant to the position that you are applying for. There are four different places that you can list your certifications: with post-nominal letters next to your name, in your resume summary, in your education section, and/or in a designated certification section.
Not sure how to translate your certifications, skills, and experience into an eye-catching resume? Consider using Jobseeker’s professional resume creation tool. You can enter in all of your information, choose between several polished resume layouts, and easily change the style, color scheme, and fonts. Then download your finished resume instantly and get started applying for jobs!