How to Properly List Promotions & Certifications on a Resume
Getting promoted and earning an industry-recognized certification are probably two of the most commendable events in anyone’s career. I think these two come second only to getting big pay raise.
But there’s a downside to these exciting milestones: figuring out how to list them on a resume.
It’s easy to show your career progression when you only moved from one company to another. It’s straightforward because all you’ve got to do is list the employment entries separately.
Moving up the career ladder or switching departments within the company, however, isn’t so easy to illustrate because there are more factors to consider. Do you list each entry as usual, repeating the company name in the process? Or do you just list the last job title you held in the company even if there’s a risk the recruiter might think you’ve been a supervisor for five years even if you only got promoted two years ago?
All that and more will be explained in this tutorial.
Use a Professionally-Designed Resume Template
One way to make sure that your resume always looks great is to use a resume template. You can find some easy-to-use professional-looking resume templates on Envato Elements or GraphicRiver.
As you can see, this resume template includes a placeholder for a photo and lots of other eye-catching graphic details sure to make your resume stand out. Also, this particular template can be customized directly in Microsoft Word.
I’ll use this template to illustrate below so you can see how easy it is to use.
How to Show Promotions on a Resume (With Examples)
Promotions are harder to list and they’re more impressive than certificates. Not everyone with a certificate also has a promotion to boast of, so that’s what we’re going to start. If you can illustrate your career progression right, you’ll instantly look a lot better than other candidates vying for the same role. Here are three methods for adding promotions on to your resume:
Method 1. For Similar Jobs or Vertical Promotion
Vertical promotions refer to upward movement from one position to another one of higher responsibility, usually within the same department or business unit. For instance, a junior developer promoted to a lead developer position qualifies as a vertical promotion.
In this situation, it’s better to list the job titles one after another under the company name so you can draw the recruiter’s attention to your increasing responsibilities and achievements. Write the start and end dates of your employment within the company and the specific dates you held each position beside the appropriate job title to prevent confusion.
Here’s an example:
In the example above, the candidate moved from Division General Manager, handling a specific region of the branch’s operations, to Director of Canadian Branch Operations, overseeing bank operations for a whole country a huge step-up from their previous role. There are no bullet points for achievements here because this excerpt came from a combination resume, but you’ll see that the reason for each promotion is explained below each job title.
If you include bullet points, list accomplishments you made in both positions in one list. There’s no need to list them separately because the roles are related anyway. Ideally, the accomplishments and skills you list are for the role you were promoted to, unless the promotion wasn’t over a year ago so you don’t have new accomplishments to list just yet.
If possible, use bullet points to explain why you got promoted to let employers know that you earned your promotion and that it wasn’t just given to you because you were next in line. Below are two ways you can word this on your resume:
- Promoted to [your new job title] due to X% increase in receivables
- Achievements in [product launch, training campaign, or any high-level task] led to [described achievement] and promotion to [new job title]
The achievements you include on your resume matter just as much as the promotions listed on your resume. So, don’t waste these precious bullet points on trivial stuff.
Learn how to write compelling achievement-oriented bullet points here:
Method 2. For Lateral Promotions or Department Transfers
Not all promotions lead to a fancier job title, some lead to totally different roles and responsibilities. If this is the case, you should put the job titles and your corresponding achievements in two separate entries under the same company name.
Here’s an example of what that’ll look like:
This method is used to focus the recruiter’s attention to your achievements and tenure in both positions. Each job title is indented below the company name to emphasize that you held two jobs within the same organization, so recruiters won’t label you a job hopper.
Now you might think that listing your previous role is irrelevant if the position you’re applying for is more in line with your current one. That might be the case, but not listing your previous role can lead to confusion. For instance, in the example above, if the associate editor job title isn’t listed, the recruiter will assume the candidate spent seven years as a graphic designer instead of just five. If nothing else, listing your previous role shows you’re a candidate with a diverse skill set.
Method 3. Listing All Promotions Separately
List the promotions on your resume as you would other job entries, with each job title preceded by the employer’s name regardless of your career movement. Recruiters skimming your resume may think you job-hopped from company to company though.
Normally this method isn’t advisable, but it might make sense for candidates who got promoted within subsidiary companies of a big corporation.
In this example, the applicant started as an Accounting Manager at Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company then moved on to Weyerhaeuser Realty Investors and again to Weyerhaeuser Company.
What Qualifies as a Certification?
Now that you know how to list promotions on your resume, let’s move on to certifications. For me, these are easier to list than certifications because there’s no career timeline or progression you need to worry about.
To avoid confusion, let’s first define what qualifies as a certification.
A certification proves that you possess the skills and know-how to perform a specific task and that your knowledge has been proven by means of an exam or practical test. Certifications, unlike the other skills listed in your resume, are granted by third-party organizations like universities, big software companies, and professional associations. Here’s an example of each type of certification:
- University. GetSmarter in association with HarvardX offers a short course on cybersecurity
- Private Companies. Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant program from Salesforce
- Professional Associations. BasicLife Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers from Red Cross
While some training or accomplishments result in certification because you were given a certificate with your name printed on it, not all of these carry weight. For instance, the product-training you got for knowing how to use software specific to your employer might’ve resulted in a certification, but that recognition isn’t worth much for other employers because they don’t use the same software.