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When an employer is comparing numerous resumes, certifications can make you rise above the rest. But, making your certifications stand out while not overshadowing the rest of your resume can be a little bit tricky in an already difficult job application experience. Learn how to present your certifications in a way that is easily accessible to hiring managers and helps them see why you're the best fit for the job.
Begin your resume with your name, contact information and purpose. Next, present your relevant experience in the industry and your education background. If you don't have any experience in the industry, list any other employment experience, community service or leadership experience. In the next section, include any tangible accomplishments, such as awards, publications and certifications. If the job posting requires certain certifications, place this section immediately after education and relevant experience. End your resume by detailing any other relevant skills, as well as interests, hobbies and references, if requested.
What to Include
When listing certifications, include the type of certification, the certifying organization name, and where and when you were certified. If it's a certification that expires after a certain period of time, such as a First Aid/CPR certification, include the date that the certification expires so that the employer knows when you'll need re-certification. If you suspect the certification is not self-explanatory or readily understood, include two or three bullet points describing the certification and how it applies to the job to which you're applying.
If you only have one or two certifications, or if they aren't directly related to the job to which you're applying, they can be lumped together in a category such as "Certifications and Skills" or "Publications, Awards and Certifications." If you have several relevant certifications and want them to stand out, present them in a separate category such as "Professional Certifications" or "Specialized Training and Certification."
Expired and In-Progress Certifications
If you have a relevant certification that's expired, list this on your resume and indicate when it expired. This shows the employer that you received this certification in the past and have the ability to obtain it again. Certain certifications are relatively easy to renew and don't require retraining. If you are in the process of obtaining a certification, list it on the resume and include an approximate date of when you'll receive full certification.
If you consider yourself an expert in an area but have not had formal training, list it on your resume under a separate "Skills" section. Indicate your skill level and experience, such as "Proficient in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint." Take a training course to get professional certification in one or more skills areas to boost your resume.
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Natasha Hochlowski holds a dual B.S. in chemistry and writing from Loyola University Maryland. She has been writing professionally since 2007, frequently contributing to "The Journal of Young Investigators," and has worked as a technical writer/editor for several major pharmaceutical companies.