Credentials Strengthen Your Resume, But Only If You Have The Right Ones


When applying for a job, everyone is looking for a way to stand out. Hiring managers sort through hundreds of resumes, so what would make them stop and look at yours?

Credentials have become an increasingly popular answer. You can earn credentials in skills as varied as cabinetmaking and web design, according to Credential Engine which lists more than 5,100 credentials. 

It’s safe to say credentials are becoming a bigger part of life, evident by the various fields they can be earned in and how widely they’re offered. But this raises some questions too.

What exactly is a credential? How can you get one and how to use it? Here’s what you need to know about credentials and how the right ones can help you land your next job.

What Are Credentials?

The word “credential” can mean a lot of different things, but it’s generally tied to some sort of educational achievement. Understanding the various kinds of credentials is a great first step to knowing how to use them.

  • Degree: Usually issued from academic institutions for completion of some courseload. You can earn anything from an associate degree to a doctorate.
  • Diploma: High school diplomas are the most common form, but in some cases, diplomas can be an alternative to degrees.
  • Certification: Earned from a professional society to display proficiency in a certain field. Certifications need to be renewed periodically.
  • Certificates: Awarded after completing a training program that ends with an exam, and used to show competency in a field.
  • License: State governments require licenses for people to hold various jobs, like plumbers or electricians.
  • Badge: As opposed to other forms of credentials, badges are mostly digital and hard to define. Companies, industries, and schools can award badges that vary in difficulty and type.

How Useful Are Credentials?

The job market has been very robust, meaning there are more job openings than there are people searching for jobs. In response, companies are expanding the talent pools they find workers from.

Employees are in high demand, which makes credentials all the more important. Since employers in most fields are actively looking to hire, they’ll take extra notice of relevant credentials.

If you have extra certifications or badges in the field, you’ll become an extremely attractive candidate very quickly. If you’re currently unemployed, not only can credentials help you land a job sooner, earning one can also show that you productively utilized your time.

Even if you are employed, credentials give you more flexibility at your job and a better chance to move upward.

To make sure your credentials get noticed, include them on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Showing Off Your Credentials

The key to utilizing credentials is making sure you pick and choose the most relevant ones.

If you’re trying to work as a nurse, having an EKG technician certificate will be a lot more important to employers than a beer tasting badge. There’s nothing wrong with having both, but only one should go on your resume.

Your resume gives you a chance to list your credentials, but LinkedIn allows you to expand on them. The site gives you the option to expand on achievements, which gives employers context to how you’ve earned and applied the credentials you have.

When you’re applying, My Next Move is a great tool to get a sense of what training is relevant in a certain field. The job search tool, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, allows you to search any industry and see what education, credentials, or training are necessary to work in it. 

My Next Move can help you determine what credentials to put on your resume, as well as help prepare you to enter a new field.

No matter what your career plans are, credentials can be an important piece in advancing in your field.

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