Listing Certifications and Licenses in a Resume

A resume depiction

From an individual’s education, summer internships and publications to his/her technical skills, it is extremely important that a resume prepared (self-prepared or otherwise) for that individual includes anything that would help him/her get the job in which s/he is interested.

Let’s remember that when you prepare a resume you are actually compiling the experiences, acquired skills and relationships formed during your professional life, but somehow many professionals make the mistake of focusing only on experience and education; and as a result, they disregard any additional information that would enhance their ability to stand out from other candidates.

Any professional certifications and licenses that impact your career and the ability to do a job satisfactorily, or even exemplary, should be listed on your resume. This concept is especially relevant for those professionals who cannot actually perform their jobs without having a license to do so; jobs for teachers, real estate agents, medical professionals, and other such licensees.

The professional credentials section

So if you are in a profession that requires a special kind of certification and/or license, your resume should contain a section specific to this type of information. The heading of such a resume section should be “Professional Certifications” or “Professional Licenses” and you should list, in reverse chronological order, any certifications and licenses you have acquired throughout your professional experience.

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That having been said, it is a lot harder to consider this information and include it on your resume if your professional field does not require any certifications or licenses. For example, having a certificate from a seminar on managing multiple projects may not be required in order for you to do your job effectively.

However, such a certificate can be very helpful in virtually any field and, if included on your resume, it can help you stand out from the crowd of other professional candidates and catch the employer’s attention; and while it is important to consider any courses or training seminars you attended in your professional career, you need not forget to include the courses you may have taken as part of the training at a current or previous job.

Highlighting your strengths

One example is if you have completed a course on using Microsoft Access Database as part of the training on your current job, and you know that you will be required to work with this program in a new position you are seeking. Simply treat the list of licenses and certifications as you do your professional experience; and make a list, in reverse chronological order, while paying special attention to which of those listed items are most relevant to your professional goals and objective.

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Your resume should have no more than five most recent certifications and licenses with the date you obtained the certificate or license listed appropriately. If you took a course over time, for example, indicate the completion date in form of month and year only; and the exact title of the certificate or license should also be listed, along with the issuing organization.

No additional information is necessary for this area of your resume, but make sure to highlight any certification and licenses in the cover letter if they promote your qualifications for the job you are seeking; and if the listing of licenses or certifications is lengthy you can include the related information on a separate sheet of paper.

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Important use of your cover letter

However, make sure to always list a few of the most recent items; and if the listing exceeds five items let the potential employer know that additional information is available upon request. Your resume or cover letter can refer to this information, as well as highlight those elements – and only those elements – that promote you as the candidate best suited for that job.

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Conveying Your Transferable Skills in a Resume

When making a career change

Many of us, when faced with career changing decisions, put a lot of thought into the steps we need to take in order to make the very best decision possible, because a career change can be one of the most important decisions we make. Since such decisions involve our families, living and financial situations and competitive advantages in the new field, among other such concerns, making a career change typically means starting with a blank canvas.

Of course, an individual may have the freedom to paint that canvas any way s/he wishes; but while doing so, it is important that s/he invests the time and energy, as well as make the sacrifices necessary to prove that s/he’s a credible professional in the new field. S/he also needs to be competitive, motivated, and be able to sustain the drive that is necessary to be successful. And after s/he’s convinced that changing careers is the right thing to do, s/he will then have to convince potential employers that s/he is the best person for the job being sought, and get hired.

If you are that job seeker faced with a career change – or you are able to put yourself in such a job seeker’s stead – the first thing you should acknowledge is the necessity to do your research; because you must demonstrate to your potential employer that you have an extensive knowledge of the industry you’re interested in entering, even if you don’t have the accompanying experience. Before you begin your new career, make sure you understand what professional paths are available for you, and determine what your ultimate goal is, as this will help you form the career objective for your resume.

Identifying your own transferable skills

Additionally, make sure to do your research on the company you are interested in, as well as their competition (if you are interested in non-profit organizations, make sure to brush up on other organizations with similar missions), because if you are invited for an interview, you will want to appear very knowledgeable, not only about your potential new company, but about the industry as a whole. Keep in mind that you will have to convince your potential employer that you are the best person for the job; even better than the candidates with experience. You’ll do this by showcasing your enthusiasm for the opportunity, as well as your eagerness to enhance your knowledge about the field.

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If you possess transferable skills, you know that such skills can be utilized in numerous fields, and can be key to a successful career change; so consider your qualifications to date. What experience have you acquired that can be transferred across various industries? Transferable skills include verbal and written communication, people management, customer relations, organizational and project management skills, development of new processes, generation of new ideas or concepts, and other such skills, both acquired and innate. Skills which can be adapted to all organizations that you should utilize to showcase your qualifications for the job you are seeking.

Defining your transferable skills

Consider, for example, that you would like to ditch a 9-to-5 desk job for a hectic, unpredictable life of a high school teacher; you’ll have to let your potential employer know that your previous experience in leading by motivation makes you a perfect candidate for the job (even if that marketing project you managed has nothing to do with teaching English Composition); and make a list of all your professional experiences and the qualifications needed for the job you are seeking, as it will help you in determining which skills are transferable to your new career.

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Once you define your transferable skills, use a functional resume to ensure that most (if not all) the qualifications needed for the new job are met in your resume. In addition to your resume, you should use your cover letter or email to let your potential employer know why you are changing careers, and that your new interest is not a passing fancy or simply an act based on impulse. Make sure that your resume reflects your newfound interest in a genuine and professional manner, and you will give yourself the best chance to make a successful career change.