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Entry-level employees and recent college graduates may find difficulties filling out their resumes with work experience. Fortunately, there’s another way to get attention, so the lack of experience doesn't have to be a roadblock to a better job. Our blog will show you when and how to list relevant coursework on your resume.
Maybe you don’t have that much experience yet, but your college courses covered all the key skills asked for in your ideal job. Can you include that coursework in your resume? Yes! Even if you don’t have work experience, this can show that you have the knowledge needed to excel in your chosen field.
Most resumes include a list of past jobs that demonstrate a candidate’s relevant skills, accomplishments, and experiences. However, this format doesn’t work for every job applicant. There are many different ways to display your value to recruiters, and we’re here to show you how. If you’re a recent graduate or a young professional with a college degree, one of the best ways to improve your resume is by listing your relevant coursework.
In this blog, we’ll cover the following topics:
When should you list relevant coursework on your resume?
When should you not list relevant coursework on your resume?
How to list relevant coursework on your resume
3 examples of relevant coursework in resumes
Although it’s not always a good idea, listing relevant coursework on your resume can sometimes be a great way to fill it out. This could be any classes, lectures, seminars, labs, or other educational experiences that gave you skills to use in the workplace. While this usually refers to college work, you could also list any online classes, credentialing courses, conferences, or seminars you attended independently.
Here are some situations in which it might be a good idea to list relevant coursework on your resume:
Many students work while earning their degrees. They might take a job to pay for their tuition or work as part of their education. In either case, students often have trouble getting jobs due to their lack of experience. If you’re in this situation, consider listing some of your coursework on your resume. For example, if you’re looking for a job as a museum docent, you could list art history courses.
Internships are entry-level positions that allow young professionals to get some work experience in their fields of interest. These positions may be paid or unpaid and are often designed for students. In many cases, internships are directly related to a student’s chosen major. Because of this, it’s very helpful to list your coursework when applying to internships, especially if you’re applying through your university.
Even when your college experience is complete, you may still find that it’s hard to create a compelling resume. No matter how much knowledge you accumulated while earning your graduate or undergraduate degrees, employers still prefer candidates with work experience. This is another situation in which it might be helpful to list relevant coursework on your resume. This is especially true if you earned a degree in a field related to your chosen career path.
Entry-level candidates can struggle to find work due to the lack of experience. If you’re looking for your first or second job, consider referring back to your educational experiences. Alternatively, you can describe any courses you’ve completed outside of a university environment. For example, if you learned a programming language like Python through an online course, list it on your resume when targeting jobs in the tech sector.
Some fields place emphasis on educational credentials in addition to past work experience. Examples in this category include medicine, law, higher education, psychology, and science-based occupations. While on-the-job experience is still important, it’s often helpful to describe your education in detail when applying for jobs in these fields. Only list courses that are directly related to the job you’re pursuing.
Now that you know when it’s helpful to list your coursework, it’s important to realize when it might be a mistake. In most cases, recruiters may find work experience more attractive than educational credentials. If you have worked in a given field for years, listing your past jobs, accomplishments, and skills should be sufficient. Resumes offer limited space, and it’s important to only include your most relevant qualifications.
If you’ve read through the paragraphs above and think that listing your relevant coursework is a good idea, you can use the following steps to add it to your resume:
Before you do anything else, reference the job description. Recruiters often provide detailed descriptions of what they’re looking for, so this is a good place to start. If the listing places a heavy emphasis on education (asking for a GPA, etc.), then this is a good sign that they’re open to learning more about your relevant coursework.
Even if the job description doesn’t reveal much about education, you can find out what qualifications the recruiter is looking for and choose your coursework accordingly. Do this for every job and adjust your resume as needed, ensuring you submit a resume optimized for each job.
When adding your coursework, place it in the proper section. In most cases, the best place is in the education section of your resume. This will usually be towards the bottom of the document. Under your education heading, list each of the institutions you attended, along with the dates and the degrees earned. Underneath these subheadings, you can list your individual courses in a bulleted list. Alternatively, you can add a relevant coursework subheading and list your classes, separated by commas.
If you have enough space on your resume, try to provide context to your relevant coursework. This can help recruiters understand how your educational experiences prepared you for the position in question. After you list each class, describe the main points of what you learned and relate them to the requirements of the job. Whenever possible, use keywords found in the job description to get attention from recruiters.
As you’ve learned, coursework can help improve a resume if you don’t have much experience. Here are three examples of relevant coursework incorporated into resumes:
An education section is the simplest way to incorporate relevant coursework into a resume. In this case, the applicant is looking for a job in IT:
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, 2023 University of Colorado, Boulder
Relevant coursework: Database Concepts, Advanced Web Design, Algorithm and Data Structure, Introduction to Programming, Information Systems Analysis, E-Commerce
In the example below, you’ll see an alternative format that you can use to list your relevant coursework. The bulleted list format is ideal if you have a large number of classes to list, or if you want to fill up a little more space. In this case, the candidate is applying for a job in finance:
Master of Business Administration, Concentration in Finance, 2023 Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Microeconomics for Managers
Advanced Corporate Finance
International Financial Markets
Introduction to Cryptocurrency
In the last example, we’ll show you how a job candidate might add supporting information to their list of relevant coursework. This allows the candidate to show how their college courses prepared them for the job at hand. In this instance, the graduate is applying for a copywriting position at a marketing firm:
Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Marketing Concentration, 2023 Minor in Creative Writing University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
Business Marketing and Sales: Explored the key concepts that businesses use to successfully promote and sell products and services in competitive markets.
E-Commerce: Studied advanced concepts in the emerging field of e-commerce and discovered strategies for success in online sales.
Digital Marketing: Explored the factors that lead to success in the digital marketing space, and studied social media and web design strategies.
Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Learned how to create compelling nonfiction narratives while incorporating research.
Topics in Creative Writing: Analyzed different types of writing, including poetry, drama, journalism, and fiction.
If you want a professional resume that helps you stand out among a pool of candidates, go over to Career.io’s Resume Builder for assistance.
Relevant coursework includes classes, labs, seminars, and independent courses that helped prepare you for future jobs.
If you are a student, a recent graduate, or an entry-level jobseeker, listing relevant coursework may help you create a more compelling resume.
It may also be helpful to list relevant coursework if you are applying for a job in a field that has extensive educational requirements.
If possible, include additional details about your classes that describe how they prepared you for your future job.
Patrick is a Nashville-based writer and editor who loves a good turn of phrase. He has worked for a variety of clients but has a special interest in career services, travel, and the arts. When not writing, Patrick is an avid musician who enjoys exploring the sights and sounds of Music City.