Qualifications are a key part of any resume, so it’s important to make sure you get this element of your resume right. However, I sometimes find candidates, even at an executive level, are unsure about what to include or how to present their qualifications. So I’ve put together this list of suggestions to help take the guesswork out of putting together a great resume.
What to include:
- Highlight your most recent and relevant qualifications. The best way to do this is to put them at the start of your qualifications section. You can also mention them in your cover letter.
- Consider including all of your completed qualifications. Even if you have moved into a new area or industry, past qualifications can still demonstrate commitment, life experience and transferable skills such as communication and team work.
- Make sure you use the correct name of your qualification and the institution where you studied as it is on your parchment or certificate. Also include at least the year, or the year and month, that you completed the qualification. Many employers and recruiters will check your stated qualifications, so it’s helpful if you have these details recorded exactly in your resume.
- If it’s relevant to the role you’re applying for, you might also include any specialisations you completed as part of your qualifications.
- Be clear about any qualifications you are currently completing. If you have an expected completion date, include that on your resume. On the other hand, if you’re taking a break but intend to return, make a note so that it’s clear to whoever is reading your resume.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t include incomplete qualifications that you have no intention of completing. Unless there is a very good reason for including this information and that is explained, incomplete qualifications tend to raise questions. Instead, I recommend focusing on qualifications you have completed and the experience you have developed.
- Be careful not to overstate qualifications. In the course of our careers, most people will do some form of continuing education or skills development. Sometimes this training will be in the form of a short course. However, if the course is not a recognised qualification it’s best to put this sort of achievement in a separate section, such as professional development.
- Hiding your qualifications at the end of your resume won’t help them to stand out. I recommend putting them on the first page if you can. It’s often one of the key sections employers look at on resumes, so make it easy for them to find.
Making the most of your qualifications
Think broadly about your qualifications and what they can show. You might have accreditation in a specialist field, a university degree or an industry-based certification. How have each of these learning experiences broadened your skill set? It could be technical knowledge, but it might also be public speaking and presenting, leadership or data analysis. Be prepared to talk about these skills as well as your qualifications with recruiters and potential employers.
Whatever stage you’re at in your career, I’d encourage you to revisit the qualifications section in your resume the next time you apply for a role. Make sure that your qualifications are clearly set out and easy to find. Highlight what is most relevant, but don’t underestimate the value of broad education or experience as well. Presenting your qualifications well in your resume can make a difference. For more insights on writing your resume well, you’ll find lots of helpful posts on our blog.