Resumes are changing. Using what was once the job seeker’s standard format (i.e., “Objective,” then “Experience,” then “Education”) is now the quickest way to ensure that your resume will end up in the recycling bin.
Today many alternative types of resumes are being tried out: video resumes, social resumes, and visual/infographic resumes, to name just a few. These resumes are excellent not only for catching the attention of hiring managers, but also for demonstrating digital literacy, which has become an essential skill in almost every industry.
But it isn’t just resume formats that are changing; it is the type of information they contain. Hiring managers today are looking for people with specific knowledge and skills, and with the fast pace of technological change, knowledge and skills learned even just a couple of years ago are now bordering on obsolete. To stay relevant in this rapidly changing environment, job seekers need to continually update what they know and what they can do, and as a consequence many are engaging in various forms of lifelong learning. This trend has been facilitated in part by a huge explosion in online education. Today you can learn almost anything online, through formal academic programs, continuing and professional development elearning, massive open online courses (MOOCs), video tutorials, educational games, mobile learning environments…and the list goes on.
Engaging in these activities is a great start, but where do they fit on your resume? How do you demonstrate to prospective employers that you are a self-motivated, independent go-getter who is actively pursuing today’s most essential knowledge and skills?
Many forms of lifelong learning aren’t attached to formal credentials, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place on your resume. Here are four alternative credentials you can use to capture the attention of hiring managers:
A traditional credential like a degree tells a hiring manager what you can do, but a digital portfolio shows what you can do. Digital portfolios are ideal for people seeking creative positions, like graphic designers, but today job seekers in almost any field can develop digital portfolios to showcase their skills. A digital portfolio can contain anything that relates to the position you are seeking, including images, videos, multimedia, blog posts, and links. For example, if you designed a website for a course you took, include the link. And don’t forget to have a section with links to all of your professional social media accounts.
Certificates of Completion
If you take a MOOC or other type of informal course online, you will earn a certificate of completion. Even though the courses are free and available for anyone to join, employers are starting to take notice—several companies are working with MOOC providers Coursera and Udacity to recruit top students. For some courses, you can pay a small fee (usually in the range of $30 to $50) to earn a verified certificate that proves you were the person who completed the assignments and took the tests.
A digital badge is a new type of alternative credential that shows you have particular skills. Badges are developed and awarded by various organizations, and hiring managers can easily learn exactly what was required to earn them. These credentials are currently recognized by some companies, educational institutions, and government agencies as a way to showcase specific accomplishments and skills, and their popularity is growing.
Degreed is a free service that tracks all of your lifelong learning activities, including classes you take at colleges and universities, professional development courses, MOOCs, digital badges, books you read, and more. They are soon to implement a “knowledge graph,” which will provide a way for employers to visualize the overall trajectory of your education. Think of it as like your personal learning infographic.
Your resume is often the first thing hiring managers see, and if you’re lucky they will spend a whopping ten seconds deciding if it is even worth reading. Emphasizing your lifelong learning pursuits shows that you are actively working to enhance your knowledge and skills, which will go a long way toward helping you stand out from the crowd.David Blake has served, since 2012, as the Chief Executive Officer of Degreed.com, a firm that helps students score and validate their lifelong education from any source. Prior to this, Blake was a Launch Consultant with UniversityNow, and worked with the NewSchools Venture Fund on the EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab.