How to Place Your Credentials on Your Resume

Have you earned professional credentials that are well known, respected in your field, and relevant to the job you want?

What Are Credentials?

Credentials include certifications, graduate degrees, and professional licenses. (If I skipped any category of credentials, please share it in the comments below.)

Credentials on Your Resume

Be sure to put your credentials right after your name at the top of your resume (see an example here).

Why? Four reasons:

1. If employers list your credential as a must have, or a nice to have, in the position description, you want the reader to see it right away.

2. When the reader knows you have a credential relevant to the position they are recruiting for, they are more likely to read your entire resume and read it carefully.

3. When the reader knows you have earned a relevant credential, you set up a positive expectancy. They read the rest of your resume expecting to find other qualifications they want. Your credential subtly says, “I’m a player.”

4. If you don’t put the credential at the top of your resume, you will likely put it at the bottom of your resume along with your education. If your reader doesn’t go past the jump, they won’t ever see it.

Here are some examples of how you might present your credential(s) at the top of your resume:

  1. Joy Garcia, MD, MBA
  2. Bailing Kee, CPA/MBA
  3. Anita Gupta, PhD
  4. Mike Murphy, MSOD
  5. Edima Adundo, AIA

Three More Thoughts

Two Resume Credentials at the Top — Maximum

You might have noticed that I show, at most, two credentials following a candidate’s name. Don’t make your resume header an alphabet soup.

If you have more than two credentials that are relevant to the position, pick the two most relevant to follow your name.

List the rest in the Education or Credentials section at the bottom of your resume.

Alphabet soup can convey a greater interest in training than in performance. Don’t go there.

(Note: My last comment is culturally specific. I write from a U.S. perspective. If you work in a culture that places a high value on credentials, have at it!)

Relevance

You might have noticed my repeated italics gentle emphasis on relevance.

If you have a credential that isn’t relevant to the position at hand, don’t blast it at your reader.

Even better, delete it.

Match Your LinkedIn Profile

Use the same credentials on your resume that you feature on your LinkedIn profile.

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I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Look good. Get hired.
Click to learn more about my executive resume writing service or email me. 

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Image: Fotolia/Mikkel Bigandt
Updated August 2018.

© 2010 – 2018, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Let's Connect:

Comments 16

  1. Thank you Margo.

    Hey everyone, Margo is the founder of #HireFriday on Twitter. You can follow her on Twitter at @HRMargo and @HireFriday.

    Cheers,

    Donna

  2. Donna,

    This is great. I will recommend this to all of my engineering and science candidates who have credentials.

    Stephen Hinton

    Thank you Stephen! Donna

  3. Great stuff, I have my MSW and LSW. should I use only LSW or both. I see everyone in my profession using both?

  4. Hi David,

    I would use both or the one that’s most relevant to the job you want.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  5. Does your credentials go under Educations Section or the Certifications Section. I have both on my boss resume.

  6. Jann,

    It depends. You’re probably good using either section. I would need more detail to give a more specific answer.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  7. What are your thoughts on the order in which you list professional certifications?

    For example, I have two relevant credentials: CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) and MAFF (Master Analyst in Financial Forensics). While the CFE is relevant and well recognized, the MAFF has more rigorous experience, education and testing requirements, but is less widely known.

    Is there a standard, or which do you recommend:
    1) First Last, MAFF, CFE or
    2) First Last, CFE, MAFF?

  8. Hi Michael,

    If one is mentioned in a job posting, and the other isn’t, lead with the one the employer wants.

    Other than that, I would lead with the credential that’s more commonly featured on LinkedIn profiles. I checked. There are 14,000+ CFEs and MAFF turns up less than 1,000 times.

    Michael Alexander, CFE/MAFF

    looks better to me than

    Michael Alexander, MAFF/CFE.

    If the MAFF credential gains traction, there might be a time you want to flip them.

    Good luck!

    Donna

  9. Should I include my Masters Degree after my name (Christopher Dixon, M.A.)? Will I still be found on internet searches if I do this?

  10. Hi Christopher,

    My answer to that question varies by field and career level. In general, I would say “No” for an M.A., because it’s not very specific.

    Donna

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