MOOCs and Your Résumé

If you are like most MOOC students, your primary purpose for taking free online courses is probably a combination of learning for the sake of curiosity and using your new knowledge to change or advance your career.

If you plan to utilize your new knowledge and skills gained from MOOCs for your career, you’ll need to know what hiring managers think of MOOCs, and how to showcase your new qualifications on your resume.

Good news is employers have started to take MOOC learning seriously. While MOOC credentials can’t always replace the formal credentials and experiences necessary for a job, many hiring managers are starting to see them as comparable to continuing education credentials.

As hiring executive Risa Pecoraro told the Boston Globe, MOOCs are “a strong positive, assuming that [candidates] can prove through our interview process that the course has been effective.” Because the emphasis here is on skills, MOOCs are given more weight if you can back up what you learned with a demonstration, such as a digital portfolio or an example of a project you completed for the class. Some employers have taken this initiative a step further with MOOC-based hiring, where candidates were largely evaluated based on their MOOC completion records and in-class projects.

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Completion of MOOCs also demonstrates that you are motivated to expand your skills and knowledge, and personal initiative is a desirable trait for companies of all industries and sizes.

If your formal education and work experience are lacking, MOOCs can also help you “hack” your job search. Including titles and descriptions of MOOCs you’ve taken can help your resume get through algorithms like keyword searches, which many companies with online resume submission systems use to filter job candidates.

How you showcase the knowledge and skills you gain from MOOCs on your resume is important, Melissa Southwell from StudentAdvisor says. She suggests that you should only include MOOCs for which you earned a certificate (verified or not) and that you list MOOCS under a new category in the education section entitled “Professional Development.” When describing a MOOC, include the institution, the name of the instructor, and the job-related skills you acquired. Laurie Pickard, who is currently working on an independent MOOC MBA, also proposes four different options for how to display your MOOC courses.

While MOOCs can’t currently replace formal credentials in most fields, they are beginning to get recognized by companies and hiring managers as an alternative with real weight in the job market. As more people include MOOCs on their resumes, hiring managers will start to have a better idea of the types of knowledge and skills that MOOC students are able to bring to the table.

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