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Congratulations on completing your Coursera course or program! It’s now time to let the world know about your new skills and accomplishments.
The first thing to remember as you begin the process of determining how best to feature your achievements on your resume, is that a resume is a tool you can use to showcase your unique talents, skills, and experience. It is not some fixed and locked template that you have to figure out how to squeeze yourself into.
A resume is made up of different sections, each of which can be optimized to present yourself in the best light possible. Adding a new credential is a part of the process, but there are also additional ways that you can highlight your newfound skills and demonstrate the value you can bring to an organization. Here are some key things to consider about your Coursera training as you prepare to update your resume:
- What did you learn? Be specific about the skills you learned on Coursera. Recruiters and hiring managers need to know exactly what functions you’re able to perform so they can determine if you’re a good fit for the job.
- What are you proud of? Completing Coursera courses and earning credentials can be hard work, and the ability to persevere in the face of challenges is a very valuable skill. Make sure to communicate not just what you achieved, but what you had to do to get there. Demonstrating self-motivation, work ethic, and tenacity is a great way to show employers you’re the right choice for the role.
- What is most important for the reader to know? Employers may or may not be familiar with Coursera or the specific course or program you’ve completed. Consider what they need to know about the program in order to be able to evaluate your learnings and accomplishments, and add additional information as necessary to make it clear what you learned, how you learned it, and how you applied what you learned.
Once you know what you want to communicate to employers about your Coursera experience, you can determine which resume sections are best suited to conveying that information. Below is a list of the major resume sections you’ll want to use, with guidance on how to optimize each section.
Depending on the type of credential you’ve earned, you may have questions about where to place it on your resume—should you list it under Education, or in a different section such as Training and Certifications?
Unless there is a specific reason not to, you should list Coursera credentials in your Education section.
One reason why you might want to make an exception is if your previously earned academic credentials are in a field unrelated to the role you’re pursuing. In that case, it can be advantageous to separately highlight your Coursera credential at the top of your resume, to make clear your current focus to anyone reading your resume. But in most cases, Education is the appropriate location.
When adding Coursera credentials to this section, you should follow the standard best practices for listing education on your resume and include the following information:
- Name. This is the official title of the course or program you completed. Example: Big Data MasterTrack(™) Certificate, Digital Marketing Analytics Course, Master of Computer Science
- Education provider. This is the name of the university or industry partner who created the course or program. Example: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IBM
- Completion date
- GPA (degrees only)
- Summary. Here, you’ll want to include a short overview of the program so that those not familiar with Coursera will understand what was covered. Example: Four-course program covering health system development, policy and research, health service delivery, human resources for health; includes a hands-on Capstone project.
The Skills section is usually located above the Professional Experience section of your resume. An employer should be able to read this section and easily determine that you’re qualified for the role, so make sure to include the job-relevant skills you’ve learned on Coursera.
For a non-technical role, the Skills sections can consist of 4-8 short bullets detailing your core skills (also known as Areas of Expertise) organized in two or three columns. Focus on quantifiable skills like copywriting, agile project management, Google Analytics, or sales funnel management.
For a technical role, the Skills list can be longer and be organized by type, i.e., software, programming languages, hardware, data analytics, or any other categories that apply.
This is where you want to feature any job-relevant projects you’ve completed on Coursera. Projects are a great way to demonstrate to employers what you can accomplish using your skills, especially if you are starting a new career and don’t have other professional experience.
When including a Projects section, always focus on what’s most important for the employer:
- List out a maximum of 3-5 projects. You want to avoid overwhelming the reader with too much information.
- Summarize each project, explain the context, and include numbers to show the scope. When applicable, link out to additional information on the projects, such as your Github repository.
- Include measurable outcomes to demonstrate your accomplishments.
Don’t worry if you haven’t completed any projects as part of your Coursera coursework. It’s not a requirement that you have them. However, it is important to remember that any time you can demonstrate your real-world skills, you should try to do so. What you want is to convince a potential employer that you already have the skills and experience to perform the role you’re applying for.
If the information you wanted to communicate to the employers doesn’t fit under the Education, Skills, or Projects sections, consider other existing or additional resume sections, such as Summary, Accomplishments, Hobbies and Interests, etc.
Remember that the resume structure should support the information you want to communicate. As long as you follow the standard best practices for resume writing, you can add and organize sections in whatever way allows you to clearly tell your story.
Learning on Coursera is an excellent way to master job-ready skills, earn valuable credentials, and advance your career. Your resume is how you’ll showcase these accomplishments to recruiters and hiring managers, as well as your network. It’s important to present your skills and experience in the best light possible, and in a way that makes it easy for potential employers to see that you’re the right candidate for the job. When you’re able to clearly demonstrate how learning on Coursera has prepared you for success in your target role, you can be sure to get the kind of attention you deserve whenever you apply for a new opportunity.