Relevant licenses and certifications lend a sturdy sense of credibility to your resume. They’re a bit like a professional reference or recommendation letter, but they signal support from an entire official group rather than one person you know. In absence of an extensive work history or advanced degree in your field, licenses and certifications can be a primary selling point for your candidacy.

The best way to include these types of credentials on your resume will primarily depend on your job search goals. Keep your goals firmly in mind as you look over the following guidelines, and you’ll gain a clear sense of how you can make relevant credentials an asset on your resume.

Which Licenses and Certifications to Include on Your Resume

Include any licenses and certifications relevant to your target job. Typically, compatible credentials will include your most recently obtained ones, but they could also include an old or expired one. Consider keeping a master document of every license and certification you’ve earned in your career to date. Then for each resume you draft going forward, you can refer to this list and copy only those credentials that speak to your target job.

Where to Include or Cite Credentials on Your Resume

Surprisingly, you have at least five options:

1. After your name in your contact header, like this:

Aliya Jackson, SPHR

Only include the license or certification after your name if it’s immediately recognizable to your target audience and central to your overall candidacy.

2. At the beginning of your Profile description

Many jobseekers include a descriptor as the first word of their Profile, like this:

Results-driven HR Leader with 10+ years of experience.

If you have credentials that are key to your job goal, consider using “Certified” (or “Double-certified”) as your descriptor. This type of descriptor is generally stronger than a regular old adjective like “Results-driven” or “Dedicated” because it’s factual rather than subjective. (For the same reason, another strong descriptor is “Award-winning.”)

3. At the end of your Profile description

Noting special certifications is a great way to close out your Profile. Assuming the hiring manager will recognize it, you don’t need to provide more than the title and acronym. Here’s an example:

An HR Professional with 10+ years of experience, specializing in diversity recruiting, HR management, process improvement, and applicant screening. A strong history of identifying opportunities to enhance HR operations. Adept at supporting recruitment initiatives to acquire talent and facilitate organizational growth. Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

4. Within your Education section

Only combine your education and certification details in one section if they’re about equally relevant to your target job (if not, see below). If you do combine them, update the section header accordingly. A few concise options are “Education & Professional Development,” “Education & Credentials,” or simply “Credentials.”

5. As their own section

If your licenses and certifications are markedly different from your education in terms of relevance, have them be their own section with their own header. Then order all your resume sections from most to least relevant. On a traditional resume, the Certifications section will likely appear below the Experience and Education sections but above the more ancillary sections like Training or Technical Skills. But feel free to deviate from this norm depending on which categories of your experience speak strongest to your goal.

What Details to Include for Each Credential

The title you earned and the organization you acquired it from, typically in that order, like this:

Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), HRCI

In most cases, you don’t need to give the location. Dates are also optional but do include them if:

  • They help account for a gap in your work history
  • You no longer hold the credential (e.g., “Expired 2021”)
  • You’re still pursuing the credential (e.g., “Expected 2022”)

In general, you don’t need to include specific license or certification numbers unless the job posting or prospect requests them.

If a certification isn’t widely known but is highly relevant to the work you’re now pursuing, consider adding a brief description of the work you did to obtain it.

How to Format Your License and Certification Details

Try to copy the format of your resume’s Experience section as much as possible. For instance, if your job titles are bold and your company names are italicized:

Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), HRCI

How to Order Multiple Licenses and Certifications

If you include the date that you earned each credential, put them in reverse-chronological order like the jobs in your Experience section. If you’re leaving dates out, you can put them in order of relevance to your target job.

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