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
All that and more will be explained in this tutorial.
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
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]
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.
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
Below is an example from Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer at Avid Careerist:
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
To avoid confusion, let’s first define what qualifies as a
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.
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:
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:
(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.”
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:
For more information on how to show your education on a resume, read this tutorial:
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:
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
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.
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
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:
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.