Are you a “career student,” returning to university again and again to gain additional degrees? Does your job require regular continuing education courses in order to maintain certification? Do you just love learning, taking classes, attending seminars, or reading just for the joy of it?
Being a lifelong learner can be a boon to almost any career path. It shows that you are genuinely interested in your field. It highlights enthusiasm, self-motivation, creativity, agility, and curiosity, soft skills that are increasingly sought after. It also keeps you up-to-date on ever-changing technology, techniques, best practices, and discoveries.
You can also make specific tweaks to your resume that highlight the benefits of your lifelong learning without burying your qualifications in irrelevant material.
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Lifelong learning comes in many forms.
The most obvious type of lifelong learning results in degrees and certifications. You may pursue your Master’s or Ph.D. after you’ve already entered the workforce.
Some career paths, such as massage therapy and other health-centric careers, require yearly continuing education credits in order to keep your certification. Likewise, some fields necessitate regular safety courses. For example, you might have to renew your CPR certification regularly if you work with children or review OSHA safety procedures if you work in construction.
A wide range of learning methods is included in this category – college courses, seminars, online classes provided by websites like Udemy or Universal Class, even lay classes like cooking or foraging.
Mentorship is an oft-overlooked form of lifelong learning. Mentors in your field have a lifetime of experience they can share with you.
Much lifelong learning is achieved through independent study. The top tier of such study involves perusing peer review journals and other research material. For example, you might employ business case studies to adapt your business strategy. If you are in the medical field, you will need to stay up to date with the latest breakthroughs and treatments via these journals.
In our technology-driven world, YouTube and many podcasts have become sources for how-to tutorials and other information as well.
If you are learning a language, immersion in a place where it is spoken is regarded as the best way to learn. Immersive travel can also benefit you by helping you cultivate transferable skills such as empathy, active listening, mindfulness, and cultural sensitivity.
First, let’s take a moment to discuss how not to include lifelong learning on your resume. Don’t list “lifelong learner” as a skill. Don’t water down skills and experiences relative to the job by including non-professional or unrelated educational pursuits on your resume.
Now, let’s examine three ways that you can include lifelong learning on your resume.
Keep your education section up-to-date, and tailor it to fit the job to which you are applying. List relevant continuing education courses and the dates you completed them. In your education section or in a separate Awards and Certifications section, list any pertinent courses you’ve received a certificate for.
Your bullet points within your job description are places where you can highlight lifelong learning without mentioning it specifically. In describing what you’ve done and accomplished, show that you’ve stayed up-to-date with the latest technology and research.
For example, you might say:
- “Utilized [name of latest software] to…”
- “Reduced post-operative infection rates by [X] percent using [name of cutting-edge medicine or procedure]…”
You can also list any educational programs you are currently enrolled in. You might include “Currently training to become a…” in the resume summary. Or, you can list the program with past education, noting “Expected graduation in…” or “Expected completion in…”
Don’t, however, include education that you intend to pursue but are not currently enrolled in. This can give the impression that you are inactive and not a self-starter.
You can also mention professional affiliations or groups that require continuing education. As long as the organization is well known within your field, the understanding that you’ve completed said continuing education will be a given.
There may be a time and a place for any personal-interest education that didn’t fit in with your resume. Make conversation with your boss or hiring manager during the interview process. Be observant and an active listener. Do you have a personal interest that aligns with theirs? If so, talk about your studies. In so doing, you might build a rapport that gives you a leg up against the competition.