Resume credentials confuse many people.
Have you earned professional credentials that are:
- Respected in your field
- Relevant to the job you want
If so, you’ll want to share them on your resume.
What Are Credentials?
But first, what are credentials?
- Graduate degrees
- Professional licenses
If I skipped any category, please share it in the comments below.
Where to Put Credentials on Your Resume
I advise putting credentials right after your name at the top of your resume.
1. If employers list your credential as a must-have in the job posting, you want your reader to see it right away.
2. When the reader knows you have a credential relevant to their position, they’re more likely to read your entire resume.
3. You set up a positive expectancy when the reader knows you have earned a relevant credential. It subtly says, “I’m a player.”
4. If you don’t put the credential at the top of your resume, you will likely put it at the bottom. If your reader doesn’t go past the jump, they won’t see it.
Here are some examples of how you might present your credential(s) at the top of your resume:
- Joy Garcia, MD, MBA
- Bailing Kee, CPA/MBA
- Anita Gupta, PhD
- Mike Murphy, MSOD
- Edima Adundo, AIA
OK, that was Credentials 101; now for the pro tips:
2 Credentials at the Top, Max
In the samples above, you might have noticed that I show, at most, 2 credentials following a candidate’s name. Don’t make your resume header look like alphabet soup.
If you have more than 2 relevant credentials, pick the 2 most pertinent to follow your name.
List the rest in your resume’s Education or Credentials section.
Alphabet soup can convey a greater interest in training than in performance. Don’t go there.
(Note: My last comment is culturally specific. I write from a U.S. perspective. If you work in a culture that places a high value on credentials, have at it!)
You might have noticed my gentle emphasis on relevance.
If you have a credential that isn’t relevant to the position at hand, don’t blast it at your reader.
Even better, delete it from your resume.
Also, be sure to list your credentials accurately to make it easy for employers to verify them. Research has found degrees are the most likely to be inaccurate.
Match Your LinkedIn Profile
Finally, use the same credentials on your resume that you feature on your LinkedIn profile (more here).
Updated December 2021
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Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
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