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How to Properly List Promotions & Certifications on a Resume

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Read Time: 12 min

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

Here's a good example of a professionally-designed resume template with clean lines from Envato Elements:

professional resumeprofessional resumeprofessional resume
This professionally-designed resume is available through Envato Elements.

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:

how to show promotion on resumehow to show promotion on resumehow to show promotion on resume
Here’s an example from Executive Resume Writer Michelle Riklan of Riklan Resources LLC.

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:

  1. Promoted to [your new job title] due to X% increase in receivables
  2. 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:

how to list promotions on resume method 2how to list promotions on resume method 2how to list promotions on resume method 2
This example illustrates how to show lateral promotions on a resume.

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. 

Below is an example from Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer at Avid Careerist: 

how to show promotions on resume method 3how to show promotions on resume method 3how to show promotions on resume method 3
Example with promotions listed separately.

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:

While some training or accomplishments result in a 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 a 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.

As with other skills, you should only list certifications on your resume that are relevant to your target job. Not sure how to tailor your resume to a job posting? Check out this comprehensive guide: 

How to List Certifications on Your Resume (With Template Samples)

In this section, I'll show how to list certifications on a resume and include samples so you can see what it looks like on an actual resume. For most of these samples, I'll use the professional resume template I showed you earlier so you can see what that looks like.

1. Name

The first area of your resume affected by a certification could be your name. Some certifications are required for the job, as in the case with Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). If that’s the case for you, include your certification beside your name so recruiters immediately know you've got the certification required.

Here are some how to list certification on resume samples:

  • Linda Sheeran, PMP
  • Neil Winehouse, CNA

Here's what this looks like on a resume:

listing certification on name and header of resumelisting certification on name and header of resumelisting certification on name and header of resume
Sometimes a certification on a resume affects the way you show your name. In the example above notice the certification appears after the name as well as a title below the name.

2. Email

This is optional, but including your certification in your email is a good branding strategy because then everyone who sees your email will immediately know what you do for a living. The recruiter will immediately know that you've got the right certifications before they read your resume.

Here's an example of this type of email:

3. Resume Summary and Work Experience

Include your certification in one of the bullet points and mention which states you’re allowed to practice, and your specialty or niche.

Here's a how to list certification on a resume sample shown in the work experience section of a resume:

“Certified Midwife (CM) experienced working in birth Centers, valid to work in Delaware.”

"CPA specializing in helping small business owners in correctly filing their tax forms to maximize tax incentives and avoid audits."

certifications on resumecertifications on resumecertifications on resume
This example of certification on a resume shows the certification listed in the work experience area.

4. Education

List your certifications in chronological order along with your academic background. Do this only if you've got one or two certifications to list, if you've got more than two certifications consider listing them in a separate section on your resume.

Here's an example:

education on resumeeducation on resumeeducation on resume
Your degree(s) are definitely certifications you should list on your resume.

For more information on how to show your education on a resume, read this tutorial:

5. Multiple Certifications

If you've got multiple certifications, list them in a standalone section titled “Certifications” or combine them with other professional development entries, such as “Certifications and Licenses” or “Training and Certifications.” Either way, list all of these entries at the bottom of your resume, right after your academic credentials.

Include the following information for every certificate listed:

  • Certificate Name
  • Certifying Body
  • Date Obtained
  • Location

List the location only for state or country-specific certifications on your resume. Examples of this type of certification include teaching and medical-related certifications.

Always spell out the acronym for every certification first so both the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and the recruiter can understand what your certifications mean.

How to list certifications on a resume sample:

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), The Scrum Alliance, 2015
  • Project Management Professional (PMP), Project Management Institute, 2011

6. Show a Practical Application of Your Certifications

When a job requires a certification, every candidate that applies will have the required certifications on their resume. It’s a minimum requirement, so having it won’t help you stand out in any way.

Austin Belcak, Founder of Cultivated Culture says, “Many applicants make the mistake of listing their certifications and leaving it at that, but that certification doesn’t tell the employer anything on its own."

A Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Excel Certification can mean anything from knowing how to do a vlookup to building complex databases that can manipulate and present data. There’s just no way to tell unless the recruiter has first-hand knowledge of said certification. In most cases, that just isn’t the case.

To get the most out of your certificate, Belcak suggests including one or two bullet points that describe an achievement or project that demonstrates the use of your certified skill. 

certifications on resumecertifications on resumecertifications on resume
Resume skills sample from Austin Belcak

In the example above, if the applicant was a Certified Ruby Programmer, the link to one of their projects is a tangible demonstration of just what they can do using said programming language.

Want to use a bar graph like the one above for your resume? Check out the resume templates in this article:

Belcak adds, “Most resumes today are submitted in digital formats, giving you the opportunity to add GIFs, images, and links. Use these to your advantage so you can showcase exactly how much you know about the field you’re certified in.”

Popular Certifications in Different Industries

Each industry has its own set of certifications; some can be obtained easily while others will take months of preparation. Here's a list of some of the most common certifications:

  • JavaScript Developer Certificate
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate
  • Six Sigma Belts
  • CompTIA A+
  • Citrix Certified Administrator
  • Google AdWords Certification
  • Certified Safety and Health Official
  • Certified Food Safety Professional (FSP)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Certified Professional Secretary (CPS)
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  • Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)
  • Certified Business Continuity Manager (CBCM)
  • AWS Cloud Solutions Architect
  • Basic X-Ray Technician Certificate
  • Certified Medical Manager (CMM)

For more information about different types of industry-recognized certifications, check out this list from the Kansas State Department of Education

Other Resume Qualifications to Boost Your Application

Promotions and certifications aren’t the only credentials that can add value to your application. You can also list awards, publications, licenses, portfolio and professional development on your resume.

List Your Certifications and Promotions on Your Resume

You might’ve been promoted, you might have the best certifications your industry has to offer, but if you don’t know how to display promotions on your resume and the certifications on your resume have incomplete info then no one will know just how great you are.

Edit your resume now to apply the tips mentioned here to give yourself a better chance of landing an interview. Why not download a professionally-designed template from Envato Elements or GraphicRiver and get started today?

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