credentials on resume

How to Place Credentials on Your Resume

Resume credentials confuse many people.

Have you earned professional credentials that are:

  1. Well-known
  2. Respected in your field
  3. 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?

They include:

  1. Certifications
  2. Graduate degrees
  3. 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. When the reader knows you have earned a relevant credential, you set up a positive expectancy. 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:

  1. Joy Garcia, MD, MBA
  2. Bailing Kee, CPA/MBA
  3. Anita Gupta, PhD
  4. Mike Murphy, MSOD
  5. Edima Adundo, AIA

OK, that was Credentials 101; now for the pro tips:

2 Credentials at the Top, Max

You might have noticed in the samples above 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 relevant 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!)

Relevance

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.

Accuracy

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 January 2021

© 2010 – 2021, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 16

  1. This is critical in my industry, having an SPHR certification is required in some Dir of HR positions. Very good points indeed.

    @HRMargo
    Founder of HireFriday

  2. Thank you Margo.

    Hey everyone, Margo is the founder of #HireFriday on Twitter. You can follow her on Twitter at @HRMargo and @HireFriday.

    Cheers,

    Donna

  3. Donna,

    This is great. I will recommend this to all of my engineering and science candidates who have credentials.

    Stephen Hinton

    Thank you Stephen! Donna

  4. Hi Donna,

    Again…another great article. I’m going to share it!

    Thank you Donna.

  5. Great stuff, I have my MSW and LSW. should I use only LSW or both. I see everyone in my profession using both?

  6. Hi David,

    I would use both or the one that’s most relevant to the job you want.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  7. Does your credentials go under Educations Section or the Certifications Section. I have both on my boss resume.

  8. Jann,

    It depends. You’re probably good using either section. I would need more detail to give a more specific answer.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  9. What are your thoughts on the order in which you list professional certifications?

    For example, I have two relevant credentials: CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) and MAFF (Master Analyst in Financial Forensics). While the CFE is relevant and well recognized, the MAFF has more rigorous experience, education and testing requirements, but is less widely known.

    Is there a standard, or which do you recommend:
    1) First Last, MAFF, CFE or
    2) First Last, CFE, MAFF?

  10. Hi Michael,

    If one is mentioned in a job posting, and the other isn’t, lead with the one the employer wants.

    Other than that, I would lead with the credential that’s more commonly featured on LinkedIn profiles. I checked. There are 14,000+ CFEs and MAFF turns up less than 1,000 times.

    Michael Alexander, CFE/MAFF

    looks better to me than

    Michael Alexander, MAFF/CFE.

    If the MAFF credential gains traction, there might be a time you want to flip them.

    Good luck!

    Donna

  11. Should I include my Masters Degree after my name (Christopher Dixon, M.A.)? Will I still be found on internet searches if I do this?

  12. Hi Christopher,

    My answer to that question varies by field and career level. In general, I would say “No” for an M.A., because it’s not very specific.

    Donna

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