How to Add Your Online Degree and Coursework to Your Resume
Resume writing can be a challenge no matter your age, education, or professional level. It’s not always because there’s not enough of a story to tell, it’s just that some of us aren’t natural storytellers and may be uncomfortable talking (or in this case writing) about ourselves.
Online students might find the challenge even greater given certain stigmas about online learning, yet there are ways to overcome any hesitations or obstacles and confidently define your degree, what you’ve learned from your online classes, and how your training makes you the perfect fit for the role you’re seeking.
Forward Thinking reached out to Christine Shine, Ashford University Career Services Specialist, for answers about translating your online degree and coursework to your resume.
Forward Thinking: What’s the most common question students have regarding resume preparation?
Christine Shine: The most common question is, “What do I include on my resume?” The short answer is anything related to the job to which you are applying. Even if you haven’t worked in your industry or field in the past, there are transferrable skills you can pull from your work experience.
For example, if you’ve held a customer service role, you may have had to answer multiple phone lines, address client questions, or deal with problem solving. These job duties speak to your ability to multi-task, focus on serving clients, and identify solutions.
Many of these soft skills are also acquired during your pursuit of a degree. Consider all of your responsibilities and how you delegate and problem-solve as a student. Your time management, money management, and research skills – even the discussions you have with classmates that lead to debates and negotiations – all fall under this umbrella, and can prove valuable in a workplace setting.
Forward Thinking: What’s the No. 1 thing a student should know about adding college experience to a resume?
Christine Shine: Remember that your degree is a big qualifier in moving into a role, but not the only thing you will need. You will also need to gain experience in your field, and you can do so prior to graduating. This experience includes jobs, internships, clubs and organizations, and volunteer work.
Despite what you may have heard about one-page resumes being the standard, Lastrella-Quicho says a two-page resume is acceptable – with the most relevant details, of course – and should use a common font style, such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid the urge to over-highlight your accomplishments, she says, and only use bold face to “emphasize job, degree subjects, or companies.”
Forward Thinking: If I’m a student who has only completed a few courses, what’s the best way to make those accomplishments come through on a resume?
Christine Shine: Include the degree that you’re currently pursuing with the month and year you began to present. Add any honors, awards, or your GPA if it is higher than 3.50.
If you have class projects that you’d like employers to see, add those to your LinkedIn page, and include the URL (link) to your resume. You can also include career-related coursework as part of your education under the subheading ‘Relevant Coursework.’
The best way to make your coursework appealing on LinkedIn is to include projects, presentations, or papers relevant to the industry or job you are pursuing.
Your LinkedIn profile allows you to expand on your experience, but follow Christine’s advice and keep it relevant. You can craft your profile in a storytelling format with paragraphs or use bullet points, but be sure to pay equal attention to another critical piece of your presentation, your cover letter.
Forward Thinking: How can a student best sum up college accomplishments in a cover letter?
Christine Shine: Some of the most important skills and abilities employers look for in job candidates are gained through your coursework and educational experience.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top five skills employers seek in candidates are: leadership, ability to work on a team, written and verbal communication skills, and problem solving abilities.
Present your educational qualifications by explaining assignments you completed and the job-related skills you gained from these experiences. For example:
- A group project can be used to explain your ability to work on a team.
- Organizing a club or volunteer event would speak to your leadership skills, especially if it relates to your college major.
- Starting an International Management Club or volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club is a way to showcase your interest and experience in your chosen major or industry.
Lastly, keep in mind that your resume is always evolving. For every class you take, every project you finish, and every job you start, you’ll need to update your resume by giving it a review from top to bottom, and tailoring your experience to your specific goal.
Fortunately, you can rely on the resources of Ashford’s Career and Alumni Services team for resume writing tips, webinars, and other job interview preparation tools throughout your time in school and beyond.
Written by Ashford University staff