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If you are writing a student CV to facilitate a job search but don’t have a lot of work experience, listing relevant courses and related coursework can be helpful. In fact, hiring managers will take your student status into account and consider extracurricular activities when reading your CV and cover letter. Of course, you need to make sure the coursework you list is relevant to the job posting in question. If you choose the right coursework it could bolster your experience section and help your CV to pass through applicant tracking systems.
Relevant coursework, like relevant experience, can be identified by considering the nature of the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an entry-level job in retail then there may not be any particular coursework that will be relevant. If you are applying for a nursing position, however, your coursework and academic achievements will be crucial, especially if you are a recent graduate. Relevant coursework is academic work that:
In some cases, this is very clear, as with nursing, law, dentistry, social work and other professions. In other situations, however, it can be less clear. For example, you don’t need a degree in historical research to work in HR, but the report writing skills that most bachelor of arts degrees instill can be relevant to many different roles. Likewise, if you have a bachelor of science, you may find that some of your coursework is relevant to different research roles. If you want to figure out whether your coursework is relevant to a specific job, consider the job description and highlight any skills from the posting you use in your academic life.
There are some situations where it is best to list relevant coursework. The most common is when you are a recent graduate from college or high school and have little to no work experience. Another example of a situation when relevant coursework can be useful is when applying for entry-level jobs. If you are in the middle of a career change, listing coursework can also be very helpful. If you have a lot of work experience and are applying for a job in the same field, it is unlikely that you will need to list coursework unless it directly enhances your ability to do the job.
If you know that adding relevant coursework to a professional CV will be helpful, you need to identify what you want to list and include it properly. First, you should read the job posting carefully and highlight the core competencies and skills it requires. Use this to help you identify coursework that a potential employer will find interesting. For example, job seekers looking to work in public relations, good communications skills, risk assessment and teamwork will be key. Then pinpoint coursework you’ve had that displays these skills (e.g., group projects). Likewise, if you want to work in marketing, creative skills will be all-important. Examples of relevant coursework for a marketing role include visual design projects. If you are still uncertain, consider CV examples in your field that have relevant coursework sections. Once you know what coursework you want to list, it’s time to write your perfect CV. There are a few ways to list relevant coursework on a CV; the most effective is to create a specific relevant coursework section. A CV format with this feature will make it clear to a recruiter that you are a student and may lack professional work experience. When listing your coursework you can use one of these formats.
This format is simple—a simple bullet list of relevant coursework. For example, when applying to be an editor this column might look like:
Relevant Coursework: Editorial
Slightly more complex, this format breaks down coursework into different areas of expertise. For example:
Relevant Coursework: Digital Marketing
A detailed layout provides more information about the coursework and can be useful when the coursework is not obviously relevant. For example, if you want to work in data analysis, but if you have a degree in historical research, a detailed outline might be useful because it allows for more explanation of skills aquired and used. For example:
Fall 2018 – Present
Alongside these specific CV writing tips, you should also consider the overall layout of your CV. Choose a professional font like Arial or Calibri, ensure there is enough white space on the page, and keep your margins between half an inch and one inch. If you do this, you will create a professional CV that reads well and has a good chance of impressing hiring managers.
It’s not necessary if you have a decent amount of work experience, but if you lack professional experience, using relevant coursework on a CV is a necessity, as it can help to distinguish you.
You should not include your art school portfolio directly on your CV. However, you can attach it to your CV when you apply if it is relevant to the job description, or provide a link to your own online portfolio.
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