When and How to Include Coursera Specializations on Your Resume
Benefits of Including a Specialization on Your Resume
There are several key benefits to including a specialization, Coursera or otherwise, on your resume. We're going to focus on benefits for entry-level jobs below, but the concepts can be extrapolated to career pivots and advancements too.
First, putting a specialization on your resume demonstrates a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development, which is highly valued by many employers. If you can speak to your reasoning for choosing said specialization, or if it's in a hot tech field, this is especially impressive. This dedication shows that you're willing to invest time and effort into improving your skills and knowledge, and can also show that you're up-to-date with the latest trends and practices in your field.
Second, these specializations can help you stand out from other job candidates, particularly in competitive industries. This is especially applicable when you're looking to break in to a field and competing against other candidates who may have similar life experiences to you. By highlighting your unique combination of skills and experiences, you can have supporting metrics for a strong case for why you're the best candidate for the job.
Finally, including a specialization on your resume can help you attract new career opportunities, both within your current organization and on Linkedin. Recruiters often search by skill keyword or institution, so this can help you rank higher in your desired field. It can demonstrate your drive to take on new challenges and responsibilities, which is always helpful too.
How to Decide Which Specializations to Include
When deciding which programs or specializations to include on your resume, it's important to consider the relevance of the skills and knowledge you gained from each program to your target job types.
Use a tool like Bridged to match specializations that align with the requirements of the your target position that showcase your expertise in relevant areas. Consider the reputation and credibility of the issuing institution (if its a university/company hosting on Coursera, you're golden) particularly if it's a well-known and respected organization in the tech industry like Google, Meta, IBM, etc. This process will help demonstrate the quality and value of your online learning experiences.
If you're doing it the Bridged way and stacking specializations + certifications to try a wide-and-deep approach to learning, think about the diversity of your specializations. Aim to include those with prestigious issuing institutions, or those with primary skills for your target job. Keep the rest of your learnings in your back pocket (these will make you deadly as an employee). Be laser-focused on showcasing a range of skills and knowledge that demonstrate your versatility and adaptability as a job candidate.
Tips for Listing Specializations on Your Resume
When it comes to listing specializations on your resume, there are a few key tips to keep in mind.
First, be concise and specific in your descriptions, focusing on the most important skills and knowledge you gained from each program. Use something like Bridged to see top keywords and skills for each relevant role.
Second, prioritize the most relevant and impressive specializations by placing them at the top of your "Education" or "Additional Information" sections. This will help grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers to make a strong first impression.
Third, consider highlighting any relevant project or portfolio information as a link on your resume (example below). Upload your portfolio to something like AWS or Google Drive, and use a sharable link. This showcases your ability to apply what you've learned to something that may be relevant to the company.
Examples of Specialization Examples on a Resume
Here are some great examples of how to list specializations on your resume. Feel free to copy our format. Does it remind you of APA formatting in school? Again, we recommend putting these in your Education section, or Additional Information section if you want to get fancy with it.
Top Specializations on Resume Examples
- Specialization: Digital Product Management from the University of Virginia (Coursera, 2023). Skills Learned: Product Strategy, Product Development, User Research, Agile Methodologies, Market Research, Team Management. View Portfolio Here.
- Certification: Project Management Certificate from Google (Coursera, 2023). Skills Learned: Budgeting and Cost Management, Project Planning and Scheduling, Risk Assessment, Agile and Waterfall Methodologies.
- Specialization: Software Testing and Automation Specialization from the University of Minnesota (Coursera, 2023). Skills Learned: Manual QA, Black and White Box Testing, Automated Analysis, Selenium. View Github Link Here.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Listing Specializations on Your Resume
Example 1: Junior-Level-Job-Hunting Course
- Product Manager: Learn the Skills to Get the Job (Udemy, 2023). Skills Learned: Product Strategy, Product Development, User Research, Agile Methodologies, Market Research, Team Management.
What's wrong here?
This is a specific job-hunting course, not a specialization. While you definitely learned great skills from completing this certification, it does not look legit to employers. This goes for all job-hunting related certifications and specializations (though there are fewer of these that we recommend on Coursera). We recommend instead just including a portfolio link under "Additional Information" or any spec work completed during the program without naming names.
Example 2: No Credit where Credit is Due
- Coursera Digital Product Management (2023). Skills Learned: Product Strategy, Product Development, User Research, Agile Methodologies, Market Research, Team Management.
What's wrong here?
Coursera is NOT an institution. We'll say it again, louder for those in the back: Coursera and Udemy are a hosting platforms, not certifiable institutions. In fact, anyone can list a program on either of those platforms. We've thought about it ourselves. Showing a specialization completed, but not mentioning where the program was taught, is a major party-foul in the world of education and job-searching. Be sure to always list the institution as the certifier of the specialization, and use Coursera to indicate how you accessed the course.
Example 3: Some other Specialization/Resume Pitfalls
- Listing WAY too many skills learned from a specialization. As yoda says, SHOW, NOT TELL. I'm actually not sure if that was yoda.
- Listing every certification you've ever taken
- Resumes that are longer than one page for a role that requires less than 10 years of experience. (don't come for me-- you know it's true too).
Other Ways to Leverage Your Specializations for Career Transitions
If you're looking to leverage your program certifications or Coursera Specializations to break into the tech industry, there are a few key strategies to keep in mind when pursuing your job hunt.
First, consider highlighting your learning experience on BOTH your resume and LinkedIn profile, using all the tips we've discussed here. Coursera specifically has a Linkedin plugin that will verify your achievement, which is very astute of them. By doing this, it'll help you stand out in recruiter searches while also demonstrating your hunger and drive to learning new material. We have a three-step process outlined here on how to optimize your job searching.
Second, utilize the Bridged method of thinking to stack micro-certifications and specializations to enhance your understanding of the skills and responsibilities of your target role. Not sure about your role yet? Use our job guides to browse specific entry-level roles, and our skill tracker to keep track of your progress towards your target job.
Top Coursera Specializations for Beginners in 2023
For the analytically-inclined: Google's Data Analytics
Google has created a baller data analytics certificate program that's coveted in the analytics industry-- including business analysts, marketing analysts, and product analysts alike. This is one of the top certificates in the industry for analytics as a field, and the best way to quickly learn Google Analytics. It's free to audit, but if you want the certificate to show off as we've mentioned here (which is recommended, btw), it's $49 a month to complete at your own pace.
For the newbie product manager: UVA's Digital Product Management Fundamentals
We all know UVA rocks, but did you know they've created one of the best online product management specializations? This prestigious specialization in digital product gives a comprehensive view of the skills and requirements to be successful in the role. This program focuses on test-and-learn strategies, identifying and acting on customer insights, and running an effective product program. Read our full writeup here. It's free to audit, but if you want the sharable certificate it's $79 a month to complete at your own pace.
For the ultra-organized: Project Management with Rice
Project management continuously makes our list of top recommended entry-level-roles. It's a great field with exposure to every aspect of a product or marketing pod, as your main role is unblocking issues for team members and managing their activities. This is one of the most common roles used to transition into product management. Read our full writeup here. It's free to audit, but if you want the certificate it's $49 a month to complete at your own pace.
For the academic: UX Research with University of Michigan
University of Michigan has created a great overview of UX/UI in this specialization program. It covers both UX design and research, which makes it a great bargain at only $49/month. This is a popular bootcamp role, so this specialization is great when paired with a portfolio or spec-work experience. Read our full writeup here.
In today's rapidly changing and competitive job market, online learning and specializations hosted on platforms like Coursera and Udemy have become increasingly important tools for career transitions and success. You've already taken the first step by reading this article. Take the second by finding your target job and using the Bridged skill tracker to systematically tackle skill gaps. Good luck!
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