Key Resume Sections: “Licenses” and “Certifications”

In the current job market, recruiters and hiring managers look for specialists over generalists, and a “Licenses and Certifications” section shows that you have a specialist’s skill set. If you don’t have enough credentials to make a standalone section, then your certifications and licenses may be integrated into the “Additional Education and Training” section, “Education” section, or “Experience” section.

In many professions, simply having licenses and certifications is a selling point for employment. Licenses and certifications communicate certain things to recruiters and hiring managers:

  1. You’re smart
  2. You’re dedicated to the profession
  3. Your value proposition is higher than other non-certified job applicants

In addition to the value that displaying these credentials brings, having these credentials shows expertise, qualifies you for unique opportunities, and makes you searchable in online databases. It’s safe to say that recruiters and hiring managers should know about your licenses and certifications, and we’ll show you how to present them here.

The 3 Dimensions of Effective Resume Writing:

Content in the Licenses Section

  • Students who qualify to take certain licensing exams after finishing their degree may mention this here or in a “Summary” section
  • If you’re currently pursuing a certification, you can mention that within this section. Mention also the expected completion date
  • If all licenses and certifications can be listed after your name (limit to 3-4), then there is no need for a “Licenses and Certifications” resume section
  • If you are transferring career fields, keep in mind that licenses and certifications from other industries may not be valuable in your target industry. If you continue to promote your past credentials, recruiters and hiring managers may doubt your ability to fill certain roles
  • Avoid listing certification or license numbers unless specifically requested to do so

Sequence of the Licenses Section

  • Certifications and licenses are appendages to excellent work experience. As such, the “Licenses and Certifications” section should be presented below the “Work Experience” section
  • Within this section, list the licenses that are most relevant to the job at the top. You want the resume reader to see them first

Design of the Licenses Section

  • Consider listing the certifications and licenses in bullet point format
  • If one of the credentials has expired or is inactive, note that within parenthesis () or after a dash (-)
  • Spell out specialty certifications and lesser knows certifications; avoid including only the acronym

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