Including relevant coursework on a resume
Make your resume standout further by including details of coursework relevant to the job.
Resume experts are often divided on the subject of relevant coursework. Some believe it has no place whatsoever, some are in favor and others believe it depends on the job position you're pursuing. There's a designated spot on your resume for your education history, but some prospective employers might be interested to know the details of your studies—and others might not. Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine when and how to use your course experience to your best advantage.
What kind of job are you applying for?
If you're applying for a summer job bussing tables at a restaurant, your coursework is obviously irrelevant. On the other hand, if you're applying to intern at a magazine, the hiring manager may want to know about your creative writing courses, short fiction prize and time spent working on the school paper.
What's your work experience like?
We live in a strange world where many employers request entry-level candidates to have a few years of work experience under their belts. It's a frustrating, convoluted predicament for graduates and anyone else who's new or just coming back to the workforce. When you don't have a lot of work experience, you need something to fall back on. Coursework is one of the more effective substitutes. Including it on your resume shows you have knowledge and skills even if you don't have any real-world job experience. Just remember not to go overboard. You don't need to list every class, lecture, lab and practicum you've ever taken.
Where does it go?
Opinions vary regarding where to put your coursework. Again, it generally depends on the job. For example, if you're applying to an academic position, put your coursework in a place of pride toward the top of your resume. If it's a technical position, place your coursework credits below your special skills. Otherwise, you could list it in the education section like this:
Bachelor of Arts, English, University of LMNO
Relevant Coursework: Literature, Creative Writing and Literary Explication
Use your best judgment, and always consider the position before including your relevant coursework. The keyword is "relevant," so remember to avoid mentioning unrelated courses or listing all of your academic accomplishments.
There is often a great deal of debate about what should and should not be included in a person’s resume. Take your educational achievements, for example. While you will certainly include your educational degrees within an education section, what about more specific details? Have you ever found yourself wondering whether that prospective employer might also be interested in reading about your coursework? Here are some things to consider before you include relevant coursework on a resume.
What Position Are You Applying For?
You should always start by considering the position. Some positions have educational requirements where everyone has basically the same educational background. Others may have few educational requirements at all. Before you decide to include relevant coursework on a resume, you need to ask yourself whether it matters. For most career-level positions, however, the inclusion of relevant coursework on a resume can often provide more gravitas to an otherwise-thin set of qualifications.
How Much Job Experience Do You Have?
That leads us to the second question you need to ask. Do you have the type of job experience you need to convince an employer that you’re the right person for the position?
If you’re a recent graduate, chances are that you have little to no relevant job experience. That leaves you with two options: submit a resume with no real experience, or add relevant coursework to bolster your credibility. Obviously, the first option is a non-starter if you want to receive serious consideration.
By including relevant coursework on a resume, you can at least demonstrate competence in those areas of expertise. While coursework is not the equivalent of actual hands-on experience, it can often be enough to sway an employer who is impressed with the rest of your resume. Remember, the whole goal of a resume is to garner enough interest to net you an interview. These little details may be just what you need to get that consideration.
Tips for Listing Relevant Coursework on a Resume
If your experience is thin and you need to focus on relevant coursework, there are a few tips you need to keep in mind. Use them to help guide you as you add these details to your resume.
- Carefully consider the placement of relevant coursework on a resume. For positions that emphasize educational achievements, you may want to list coursework near the top. If the position relies on skill and experience, you should probably include these details in the skills section. For other job types, you can just include them in your education section.
- Make sure that the coursework is relevant to the position. There’s no need to list classes that have little relation to the job you’re seeking.
- If you’re including relevant coursework on a resume, include a high GPA as well as any academic awards that you may have earned.
- Add any extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, or special projects that showcase relevant skills.
- Taken any online courses? Don’t forget to include those too!
- Include keywords from the job posting. This reinforces the relevance of your included coursework details, and can also help your resume get past the ATS.
Listing Relevant Coursework on a Resume – Example
There are a couple of acceptable ways to list your relevant coursework on a resume. Your choice should be based on need. If you have some experience and just want to bolster your credentials, you can take a simple approach to this information. Recent graduates will want to spend more time on this section to emphasize its importance.
Relevant or related coursework is appropriate when listing your courses. Here are some examples:
Option One: When your resume already includes some relevant experience
If you have relevant experience to list on your resume, you can include your relevant coursework in that section. You don’t need to include a lot of details, though. Instead, you can address your coursework using a format like this:
Option Two: For recent grads with no relevant experience
If your resume needs to emphasize education over experience, then you might want to use a different format altogether. The example below can serve as a template when you’re listing relevant coursework on a resume:
Relevant Coursework on a Resume Can Make a Real Difference!
Like many job-seekers, you may not be thrilled at the prospect of listing your relevant coursework on a resume. Still, those details can sometimes be crucial for establishing yourself as a viable candidate for a job. So, if you’re a recent graduate, be sure to include that relevant information in your resume. You just might find that your educational achievements are the one thing that pushes you past your rivals and gets you that all-important interview!
Bachelor of Science, Marketing, Best College USA
Relevant Coursework: Advertising, Copywriting, Sales Management, E-Marketing, Brand Management
Best College USA, AnyTown, AnyState
Bachelor of Science in Marketing
Cumulative GPA: 3.9
RELEVANT MARKETING COURSEWORK
Advertising Concepts & Practical Application, Best College Marketing Department
Fall 20XX-Spring 20XX
- Explored advertising theory and history
- Analyzed ad-market dynamics
- Developed effective advertising campaigns for partner businesses in the area
Brand Management 101, Best College Marketing Department
- Hands-on program working in collaboration with area merchants
- Successfully rebranded two major employers in the area
- Developed proposed brand-enhancing campaigns for six other employers