Not all education needs to cost money. There are countless free certificate courses for anyone wanting to improve their skills, qualifications from industry bodies that will level up your expertise, and online courses about every conceivable soft, hard, and technical skill.
Whether it is a MOOC (or Massive Open Online Course) that is taken by thousands of your industry colleagues or a niche course that is only completed by a select few, learning something new is genuinely addictive. The thirst for knowledge is certainly something that you should seek to showcase on a resume. However, there is only so much resume space for such courses. Formal education from college and university is expected as standard, so which free certificate courses would make sense to include?
In this blog, we look at several free certificate courses and online training centers to add to your resume. We discuss the considerations of including such courses on a resume and which courses can truly make your application stand out from the crowd. We explore:
- Which courses could you include?
- How do you list free certificate courses on your resume?
- Examples of free certificate courses and where to find them
- Mistakes to avoid when adding courses
Which free certificate courses might you include?
While it is obvious that an online cookery class would have no place on a resume, there is a temptation to overshare professional development courses on a resume. If you sit down and think about it, the list of completed courses soon stacks up.
While most free online certificate courses will include an element of testing to check that you have assimilated the knowledge, the barriers to completing such courses are not always high. Be selective in terms of which courses you include. The number of courses will impress no one – it is the choice of subject matter that will be most informative.
The best approach is to include a course if its content is something that cannot be learned “on the job” and if it will help you to excel in your next role. It should also be from a recognized provider (name recognition is important for the hiring manager).
Which certifications look good on a resume?
There are three aspects to this question. You should seek to include certifications that are specific to your profession, require deep knowledge to acquire, and are difficult to obtain. A free certificate course that takes 45 minutes to complete will impress no one.
Where can you find free certificate courses?
Marketing and technical courses will often dominate the education section of a resume. Though we will all complete plenty of people management and behavioral courses during our careers, it is the free certificate courses with technical and marketing content that are most useful to highlight. Hiring managers will often skip to this section to look for your technical qualifications.
While there is a myriad of educational content for any profession, here are some technical courses that may be most commonly featured on a resume:
Google online courses
The Google Analytics Academy is an essential education provider for any marketeer. Until one of the emerging AI pretenders takes Google’s crown, there is no more important place to learn about improving website traffic and conversions.
- Google Analytics for Beginners covers the basics of setting up tracking codes and data filters. There is an introduction to audience dashboards and behavioral analysis.
- Advanced Google Analytics shows you how to custom dimensions, track metrics and create events. Advanced techniques include customer segmentation and audience reporting.
- Udemy has an excellent mix of both free and paid Google Analytics courses. Going down the Google rabbit hole could make all the difference. If you find a free certificate course that truly made a difference to your work, consider including it in your resume.
In addition to Google Analytics, there are other Google applications such as AbMob and Google Marketing Platform. Google’s Skillshop offers eLearning solutions and online product training for its entire product offering.
Programming, machine learning, and data science
Freecodecamp.org may sound like an educational destination for programmers, but the site offers a vast selection of everything technology related. More than 40,000 graduates have gone on to work for top technology employers. It is a high-quality resource.
Universities with MOOC
Most top global universities will also have MOOC courses around programming to showcase their functional expertise. Many of these courses are taught by their faculty. They are an ideal opportunity for someone who is early in their coding career. Harvard has a fantastic introduction to python course that is ideal for anyone who doesn’t work in the industry but has an interest in the area.
Kaggle offers some fantastic free machine-learning courses where professionals of all levels can enhance their skills. Their intro to machine learning course is accessible for beginners, though they also have courses such as computer vision that are far more advanced. They have courses covering a wide range of technical skills, including SQL databases, game AI, data visualization, and even something about pandas. If you know, you know.
When it comes to data science, CognitiveClass.ai offers a wide range of courses that would look impressive on any data scientist's resume. Most of their courses are from the experts at IBM, so you can be sure that the content is world-class.
Popular marketing courses
The Hubspot Academy is a mecca for all inbound marketing, sales, and customer service professionals. Some of its most popular courses include its inbound marketing course, social media marketing qualification, content marketing, and inbound sales.
Salesforce and many other CRM providers offer powerful solutions for interacting with customers, with advanced functionality that only a select few seek to master. The Salesforce learning platform Trailhead offers free certificate courses that are organized on a modular basis. Mentioning your percentage completion on Trailhead may well earn you some job search brownie points in certain professions.
More than 300,000 students have benefited from the eMarketing Institute's free certificate courses. Whether you are interested in affiliate marketing, SEO, web analytics, or e-commerce, there is a course here for you.
LinkedIn learning courses
LinkedIn learning is an excellent and growing repository of educational resources. Upon completion of the free certificate courses, you can add them to your LinkedIn profile. The LinkedIn search facility is ever improving – it is likely that potential employers will soon be able to search by LinkedIn Learning course completion. While you may not wish to include every LinkedIn course on your resume as many of them are behavioral rather than technical, they will certainly look great on your LI profile.
LinkedIn allows you to personalize your learning journey. If you are focused on a specific area of learning, the one-month free trial could be one of the best value-free certificate courses out there. Here are just a few of the 18,000+ courses:
- Sales Strategies and Approaches in a New World of Selling
- PowerPoint: How to Make Your Presentation Stand Out
- Developing Your Emotional Intelligence
- Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
- Project Management Foundations
- Introduction to Critical Thinking
- Agile Foundations
Hundreds of thousands of people will have completed these courses and many others like them, so you won’t be alone, but why not include them on your profile if you have taken the time to complete them. Some may well be worthy of inclusion on your resume.
Other online courses
Health and safety and emergency management courses are vital in many professions. FEMA details some of the distance learning opportunities from the emergency management institute, while there is a wide variety of occupational safety and health training modules from OSHA. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has a comprehensive set of resources that anyone in compliance, risk management, or worker health will find useful.
Finance certifications such as this Introduction to Bookkeeping may be a stepping stone into professions if you do not have experience, but most financial qualifications will be linked to a longer (paid) qualification that is linked to a college or university. If you are an entrepreneur teaching yourself, free certificate courses about finance are great, but if an employer is to trust you with their P&L, they will want to see more evidence of financial literacy than a free online course.
How do you list free certificate courses on your resume?
Free certificate courses should be listed in the education section of the resume, ideally under any college or university education. As previously mentioned, do not let them dominate the section. Something that took you three hours to complete should not take up the same space as something that took three years.
List the name of your course and the provider, but there is no requirement to mention the year that you took the course. Saving space is important as there will likely be a list of courses. You will have the opportunity to tell the hiring manager more during an interview.
One other option is to add more courses to your LinkedIn profile. You can add many more courses here as there is unlimited space. If a hiring manager is interested in your candidature, they will certainly pop by to check out your LinkedIn.
Your resume should reflect the potential that you bring to the role. Adding a couple of free certificate courses that add to the depth of your experience is a great way of showing that you go the extra mile in the pursuit of career excellence. Small details like this can turn a good resume into a great resume.
Your free certificate courses may only take up one line of the resume, but their presence already shows that you are the type of person to go above and beyond the job description. Everyone wants to work with a colleague who is a curious seeker of knowledge.
Having said this, take care. If you add mundane or inappropriate courses, it may seem like you are seeking to deflect from deficiencies elsewhere. Do not give a hiring manager any doubts or reasons to dig for issues before you have secured that interview.
- Do not add more than 3-4 courses. You need to be highly selective.
- Avoid detail. Just share the title of the course and the provider.
- You don’t need to add the date of the course if it wasn’t so recent.
- Make sure that each course is hyper-relevant to the role in question.