Related Coursework In Resume

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

Under what circumstances, if any, would you want to see coursework listed on a resume?

I think there are times when I’ve seen a heading for “Coursework In:” on a resume and I think that’s helpful if someone is coming right out of library school. More often, I like to hear in the letter of application how the person’s coursework and particular experiences in those courses might relate to the job I’m posting. For example, we’re a team based organization so I want to hear how the person has worked collaboratively and successfully on group projects. But, if the person has particular technical skills associated with coursework, that can be great on a resume.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Rule of thumb: do not go over the top on this. I like to see only coursework pertaining to the position in the resume. If there is other coursework that might be pertinent based on the posted job description, that can go in as a mention in the cover letter.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

There are no circumstances under which I’d want to see coursework on a resume.  On an application, yes but not on a resume even for brand new grads.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

I am not interested in seeing coursework on a resume. I can’t think of any circumstances in which I would want to see it, though it would be a good addition to a cover letter, if it was relevant to a special project mentioned in the ad. It would also be a good topic to discuss in the interview. It could also be a separate page, like publications and speaking engagements, with course title and description. Instructor might also be useful.

– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP

Coursework could mean a list of modules taken during an MLS, or the dissertation topic.  If it’s the second, I would expect to see it listed on a new (or relatively new) graduate’s resume, and especially so if it were relevant to the post being applied for (eg something on an aspect of public library policy or on diversity outreach, when applying for a public library job).  If it’s the first case, I don’t think I’d ever advocate to include a full list of all modules, since they can take up a lot of space and it’s almost impossible for all of them to be relevant to any one job.  Sometimes it might be useful for a new graduate to include one or two modules they’ve taken where those are directly relevant to the job being applied for (cataloguing for a cataloguing job, or information retrieval for a research job, for example).

I wouldn’t advise a more experienced candidate to include either modules or dissertation title on their resume / CV, just to put the awarding institution and qualification gained.  They should have plenty of other experiences, skills and achievements to talk about on their resume!

– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.

Since not all library schools now require cataloguing, we are only interested in what cataloguing courses have been taken.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

It would be most important and most valuable to see coursework if a person were applying for a job with a specific specialty area or if they did not major in that specific field. If someone is applying for an ESL position and they have an MLS, I’d like to see examples of the language or education coursework that would be applicable. My husband, for example, has a philosophy degree and worked as a computer programmer. He listed networking and computer coursework that he had taken on his application, since at first glance the philosophy degree does not tell you why he might be qualified.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

I would like to see coursework listed on someone’s resume if it is relevant to the position and the person graduated within the past 12 to 18 months. Meaning, if they do not have a lot of professional experience related to the position for which they are applying, but have completed relevant course work. That also means that I really only want to see coursework listed on a resume if the application is for an entry level position. If you are applying for a management position and you are telling me what courses you took in library school related to the position, I will assume that you don’t have enough actual experience to apply for that job.

– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

I guess if the candidate is a new grad and took some specialized courses that ran outside the norm for library school, it might be useful to list them — but only if they are really special. If the candidate has library experience and took specialized coursework as continuing education, I’d probably like to see what those courses were.  It would be a good indicator that the candidate is interested in professional growth and upward mobility.

– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library

I would only want to see course-work on the resume if it was something really, really impressive.

I understand that it is difficult to flesh out a resume when you haven’t had a lot of jobs and it is tempting to put “relevant” course work on your resume to make it seem less sparse.  If that is your issue, I would urge you to find other resume formats that don’t leave you looking at white space.  For example, a skills based resume could highlight all the things you learned in school without actually referencing actual course work and would conveniently fill in a paragraph or bulleted section.  In fact, this type of resume is very handy for both the prospective employee and the employer.  It allows the hiring supervisor to scan through it quickly to check off the necessaries and allows the future employee to highlight outstanding skills and specialties that might not be obvious in a more traditional or chronological resume.

On the other hand, if you did something really cool that no one else you know has done, by all means, show it off!

One great way to show off your coursework is to have an online profile.  You can reference your online profile on your resume without having to put everything in it on actual paper.  This allows you to really highlight your technical skills, volunteer work and other parts of your personality and skill set that you might have a spot for on your resume. It also allows you to network on a social media level.  Try Google + or Yahoo for free resume/profile websites.  I’ve even seen profiles on Prezi.  Good luck!

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Comments are a girl’s best friend, and  I could really use a friend.  Thanks for reading!

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There is often a great deal of debate about what should and should not be included in a person’s resume. Take your educational achievements, for example. While you will certainly include your educational degrees within an education section, what about more specific details? Have you ever found yourself wondering whether that prospective employer might also be interested in reading about your coursework? Here are some things to consider before you include relevant coursework on a resume.


What Position Are You Applying For?

You should always start by considering the position. Some positions have educational requirements where everyone has basically the same educational background. Others may have few educational requirements at all. Before you decide to include relevant coursework on a resume, you need to ask yourself whether it matters. For most career-level positions, however, the inclusion of relevant coursework on a resume can often provide more gravitas to an otherwise-thin set of qualifications.


How Much Job Experience Do You Have?

That leads us to the second question you need to ask. Do you have the type of job experience you need to convince an employer that you’re the right person for the position?

If you’re a recent graduate, chances are that you have little to no relevant job experience. That leaves you with two options: submit a resume with no real experience, or add relevant coursework to bolster your credibility. Obviously, the first option is a non-starter if you want to receive serious consideration.

By including relevant coursework on a resume, you can at least demonstrate competence in those areas of expertise. While coursework is not the equivalent of actual hands-on experience, it can often be enough to sway an employer who is impressed with the rest of your resume. Remember, the whole goal of a resume is to garner enough interest to net you an interview. These little details may be just what you need to get that consideration.



Tips for Listing Relevant Coursework on a Resume

If your experience is thin and you need to focus on relevant coursework, there are a few tips you need to keep in mind. Use them to help guide you as you add these details to your resume.

  • Carefully consider the placement of relevant coursework on a resume. For positions that emphasize educational achievements, you may want to list coursework near the top. If the position relies on skill and experience, you should probably include these details in the skills section. For other job types, you can just include them in your education section.
  • Make sure that the coursework is relevant to the position. There’s no need to list classes that have little relation to the job you’re seeking.
  • If you’re including relevant coursework on a resume, include a high GPA as well as any academic awards that you may have earned.
  • Add any extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, or special projects that showcase relevant skills.
  • Taken any online courses? Don’t forget to include those too!
  • Include keywords from the job posting. This reinforces the relevance of your included coursework details, and can also help your resume get past the ATS.


Listing Relevant Coursework on a Resume – Example

There are a couple of acceptable ways to list your relevant coursework on a resume. Your choice should be based on need. If you have some experience and just want to bolster your credentials, you can take a simple approach to this information. Recent graduates will want to spend more time on this section to emphasize its importance.

Relevant or related coursework is appropriate when listing your courses. Here are some examples:


Option One: When your resume already includes some relevant experience

If you have relevant experience to list on your resume, you can include your relevant coursework in that section. You don’t need to include a lot of details, though. Instead, you can address your coursework using a format like this:


Option Two: For recent grads with no relevant experience

If your resume needs to emphasize education over experience, then you might want to use a different format altogether. The example below can serve as a template when you’re listing relevant coursework on a resume:


Relevant Coursework on a Resume Can Make a Real Difference!

Like many job-seekers, you may not be thrilled at the prospect of listing your relevant coursework on a resume. Still, those details can sometimes be crucial for establishing yourself as a viable candidate for a job. So, if you’re a recent graduate, be sure to include that relevant information in your resume. You just might find that your educational achievements are the one thing that pushes you past your rivals and gets you that all-important interview!


Bachelor of Science, Marketing, Best College USA

Relevant Coursework: Advertising, Copywriting, Sales Management, E-Marketing, Brand Management


Best College USA, AnyTown, AnyState

May 20XX

Bachelor of Science in Marketing

Cumulative GPA: 3.9


Advertising Concepts & Practical Application, Best College Marketing Department

Fall 20XX-Spring 20XX

  • Explored advertising theory and history
  • Analyzed ad-market dynamics
  • Developed effective advertising campaigns for partner businesses in the area

Brand Management 101, Best College Marketing Department

Spring 20XX

  • Hands-on program working in collaboration with area merchants
  • Successfully rebranded two major employers in the area
  • Developed proposed brand-enhancing campaigns for six other employers

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