Further Questions: Should Coursework Go on a Resume?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

Under what circumstances, if any, would you want to see coursework listed on a resume?

Laurie PhillipsI think there are times when I’ve seen a heading for “Coursework In:” on a resume and I think that’s helpful if someone is coming right out of library school. More often, I like to hear in the letter of application how the person’s coursework and particular experiences in those courses might relate to the job I’m posting. For example, we’re a team based organization so I want to hear how the person has worked collaboratively and successfully on group projects. But, if the person has particular technical skills associated with coursework, that can be great on a resume.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Marge Loch-Wouters

Rule of thumb: do not go over the top on this. I like to see only coursework pertaining to the position in the resume. If there is other coursework that might be pertinent based on the posted job description, that can go in as a mention in the cover letter.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

There are no circumstances under which I’d want to see coursework on a resume.  On an application, yes but not on a resume even for brand new grads.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

I am not interested in seeing coursework on a resume. I can’t think of any circumstances in which I would want to see it, though it would be a good addition to a cover letter, if it was relevant to a special project mentioned in the ad. It would also be a good topic to discuss in the interview. It could also be a separate page, like publications and speaking engagements, with course title and description. Instructor might also be useful.

– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP

Nicola FranklinCoursework could mean a list of modules taken during an MLS, or the dissertation topic.  If it’s the second, I would expect to see it listed on a new (or relatively new) graduate’s resume, and especially so if it were relevant to the post being applied for (eg something on an aspect of public library policy or on diversity outreach, when applying for a public library job).  If it’s the first case, I don’t think I’d ever advocate to include a full list of all modules, since they can take up a lot of space and it’s almost impossible for all of them to be relevant to any one job.  Sometimes it might be useful for a new graduate to include one or two modules they’ve taken where those are directly relevant to the job being applied for (cataloguing for a cataloguing job, or information retrieval for a research job, for example).

I wouldn’t advise a more experienced candidate to include either modules or dissertation title on their resume / CV, just to put the awarding institution and qualification gained.  They should have plenty of other experiences, skills and achievements to talk about on their resume!

– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.

J. McRee Elrod

Since not all library schools now require cataloguing, we are only interested in what cataloguing courses have been taken.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marleah AugustineIt would be most important and most valuable to see coursework if a person were applying for a job with a specific specialty area or if they did not major in that specific field. If someone is applying for an ESL position and they have an MLS, I’d like to see examples of the language or education coursework that would be applicable. My husband, for example, has a philosophy degree and worked as a computer programmer. He listed networking and computer coursework that he had taken on his application, since at first glance the philosophy degree does not tell you why he might be qualified.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Petra MauerhoffI would like to see coursework listed on someone’s resume if it is relevant to the position and the person graduated within the past 12 to 18 months. Meaning, if they do not have a lot of professional experience related to the position for which they are applying, but have completed relevant course work. That also means that I really only want to see coursework listed on a resume if the application is for an entry level position. If you are applying for a management position and you are telling me what courses you took in library school related to the position, I will assume that you don’t have enough actual experience to apply for that job.

– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

Emilie SmartI guess if the candidate is a new grad and took some specialized courses that ran outside the norm for library school, it might be useful to list them — but only if they are really special. If the candidate has library experience and took specialized coursework as continuing education, I’d probably like to see what those courses were.  It would be a good indicator that the candidate is interested in professional growth and upward mobility.

– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Terry Ann LawlerI would only want to see course-work on the resume if it was something really, really impressive.

I understand that it is difficult to flesh out a resume when you haven’t had a lot of jobs and it is tempting to put “relevant” course work on your resume to make it seem less sparse.  If that is your issue, I would urge you to find other resume formats that don’t leave you looking at white space.  For example, a skills based resume could highlight all the things you learned in school without actually referencing actual course work and would conveniently fill in a paragraph or bulleted section.  In fact, this type of resume is very handy for both the prospective employee and the employer.  It allows the hiring supervisor to scan through it quickly to check off the necessaries and allows the future employee to highlight outstanding skills and specialties that might not be obvious in a more traditional or chronological resume.

On the other hand, if you did something really cool that no one else you know has done, by all means, show it off!

One great way to show off your coursework is to have an online profile.  You can reference your online profile on your resume without having to put everything in it on actual paper.  This allows you to really highlight your technical skills, volunteer work and other parts of your personality and skill set that you might have a spot for on your resume. It also allows you to network on a social media level.  Try Google + or Yahoo for free resume/profile websites.  I’ve even seen profiles on Prezi.  Good luck!

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Comments are a girl’s best friend, and  I could really use a friend.  Thanks for reading!


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

2 responses to “Further Questions: Should Coursework Go on a Resume?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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