Tips on listing certifications and licenses in your resume

Your resume is a compilation of your professional life; from your education to summer internships, from publications to technical skills, it is critical that your resume includes anything that would help you get the job that you are interested in. Most professionals make a mistake of focusing on experience and education only. As a result, they disregard any additional information, such as certifications they have in their field, that would enhance their qualifications and assure that they stand out from the competition.

Any professional certifications and licenses that impact your career and your ability to do your job should be listed on your resume. This concept is straight forward for those professionals who cannot actually perform their jobs without having a license to do so. This is the case for teachers, real estate agents, medical professionals, etc. If you are in a profession that requires specific certifications and/or licenses, your resume should contain a section specific to this information. The heading should state “Professional Certifications” or “Professional Licenses”. You should list, in reverse chronological order, any certifications and licenses that you have acquired in your professional experience.

However, it is a lot harder to consider this information and include it on your resume if your professional field doesn’t 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 available professionals and catch the employer’s attention.

Consider any courses or training seminars you attended in your professional career. Don’t forget to include any courses you may have taken as part of the training at a current or at a previous job. For example, 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 that you are seeking, make a note of this on your resume.

Treat the list of licenses and certifications as you do your professional experience; make a list, in reverse chronological order, and consider which of the items you listed are relevant to your professional goals. Your resume should have no more than five most recent certifications and licenses. List the date when the certificate or license was obtained; if you took a course over time, for example, indicate the completion date in form of month and year only. The exact name of the certificate or the license should be listed, along with an issuing organization. No additional information is necessary for this area of your resume. Additionally, make sure to highlight any certification and licenses in the cover letter if they promote your qualifications for the job you are seeking.

If the listing of licenses or certifications is lengthy, you can include this information on a separate sheet of paper. You should always list a few most recent items; however if the listing exceeds five items, let the potential employer know that additional information is available upon request. Your resume or your cover letter can point out this information, as well as highlight only those elements that promote you as the best candidate for the job.