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Relevant coursework on a resume

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole  August 20, 2012 07:43 AM

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Q: How do I include relevant coursework in a resume? Which section should it go in and how should it be formatted? Love your column! Thanks.

A: Thanks for the kudos! Let me first discuss the goal of a resume. A resume should be a summary of your professional experience. The goal of a resume is to illustrate how you can bring value to a prospective employer.

Most resumes start with contact information at the top. Your name, home address, email address and a telephone number (cell or home number, whichever is your primary telephone number). More resumes now include a LinkedIn address and even a twitter handle. A twitter handles is almost expected for candidates in marketing and/or social media. Below this contact information there might be a summary or an objective. I prefer a summary and I suggest that a summary include key words that immediately allow the reader to understand, at a high-level, your background and skill set.

In academically-oriented industries, an educational overview might follow the summary or the objective. In technical industries, a list of technical skills might follow. On most resumes though, an overview of the candidate’s employment history would follow.

Under the professional work history section, a candidate's education is often presented. Usually degrees and certifications are listed here, with most the recent degree or certification at the top of the list. This is the best place to list relevant coursework too. I envision this portion of your resume looking like the sample I have drafted below:

Bachelor of Science, Finance, ABC University
Relevant Coursework: Accounting, Quantitative Analysis and Microeconomics

For you to include “Relevant Coursework” on your resume, you want to be certain that you include courses that are required and/or preferred by a prospective employer. Think about what courses would differentiate your background in the most positive way.


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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

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