“I taught myself many useful workforce skills outside of the traditional workplace and educational system. How do I list them on my resume?” You might be asking that question if you taught yourself abilities that could be valuable in a prospective job.
Having unique skills you can take to a new job can be an advantage on your resume. However, you must know the right ways to word and arrange your CV to pique the interest of potential employers. This piece will discuss the subject of self taught skills and how to present them to a potential employer.
Self-Taught Skills vs. Documentable Skills
You can list numerous types of skills and classifications on your resume or CV. The self-taught skills category includes abilities that you learn by:
- Researching and studying
- Learning from experts
- Doing DIY work
- Taking unaccredited courses
- Performing work as a contractor
All of the above learning methods are viable ways to acquire and master new skills. Thus, you should not be afraid to add them to your job application.
Documentable skills are those acquired using methods such as:
- Taking accredited college courses or certification programs
- Working in a traditional corporate job
- Enrolling in an internship or apprenticeship
- Graduating from a career-based program
Prospective employers tend to trust documentable skills more than self-taught skills. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your self-learned abilities to get a job, and it doesn’t mean you can’t transfer your aptitude.
However, you must work a little harder to make your resume more appealing while giving the employer some verifiable information. You’ll see an explanation of how to do that in the following sections.
Why Employers Question Self Taught Skills
Many Reddit users and other forum contributors make remarks like, “I taught myself how to fix computers. Why won’t the potential employer believe me?”
Don’t take it to heart if a potential employer is skeptical about the skills you say you have. They typically want to see proof that you have a skill before they hire you for a job that requires it. Otherwise, you could say, “I taught myself how to operate NASA space shuttles,” and put many people in danger after NASA hires you as a pilot.
Of course, that’s a considerable exaggeration. NASA would never hire you based on your word alone, but you get the point. Prospective employers usually ask for credentials, transcripts, certificates, and the like to justify their hiring decisions.
So many people lie on their applications and resumes that prospective employers wrongfully mistrust the truthtellers. A study performed by HR Dive revealed that more than 36 percent of American job applicants lie on their applications and resumes. Thus, you might be part of the 64 percent that don’t create fictitious skills and jobs, but you still have to suffer anyway because of the bad apples.
That said, you can use creative and effective methods to list your self taught skills without subjecting yourself to scrutiny and disbelief.
How Should You List Self Taught Skills? 10 Tips
These are 10 effective tips for creating a lifelong learner resume and presenting your self taught skills in the best light.
1. List Less Seasoned Skills in the Cover Letter
The first step to creating an excellent self-taught resume is to evaluate your skills and decide which ones you should prioritize. You’ll want to put your most advanced skills into the meat and potatoes part of the resume.
The cover letter is an additional document you can use to get the employer’s interest. However, it should be brief and to the point. You can mention some of your less seasoned skills in the cover letter along with your proficient skills to let them know you’re a well-rounded person.
2. Put Your Relevant Skills Front-And-Center
Many employers use software to sift through resumes. Therefore, you must think like a software program to tweak your resume correctly. Cherry-pick the skills that are relevant to the position you desire and then use buzz words and terms to attract the computer program.
You will not be dishonest in any way while doing this. You’ll only use the best terminology for the purpose. For example, a job description might call for someone who has office management experience, and perhaps you operated a home office for several years.
A home office is still an office, and you have to manage multiple aspects of your office (communications, time management, work task prioritization, accounts payable, tax preparation, customer service, etc.) to succeed as a sole proprietor. Don’t ever downplay your work just because you didn’t do it in a corporate setting. It still counts, but you need to elaborate on it effectively.
3. Show Where You Applied Your Skills
One of the most crucial parts of listing self-taught skills is showing the prospective employer how you used them. Adding them to your self-employment history is the most effective way to highlight them. For example, you could list your light automotive repair skills on your resume if you worked as a contracted roadside assistance person.
Write down the name of the business you did contract work for and the dates during which you performed those services. Next, write the skills and tasks and add in-depth descriptions of how you used your abilities to help stranded clients.
4. Explain How Your Skills Can Benefit Their Business
Like it or not, marketing yourself is part of the job application process. Thus, listing your skills is not enough to grab a job. You must explain how you can benefit their business with the skills you taught yourself.
You can do that by elaborating on how you increased profits or customers for another company. Be prepared to show proof of what you accomplished if you add the information to your resume.
5. Show the Employer How Your Skills Brought Results
Sales reports are great for proving that your skills will be highly transferrable and effective in the workplace. For example, you might get a company interested in you as a sales representative or manager if you can prove that you had a 99 percent sales percentage rate as a self-employed individual selling your own products or works. If you show them the numbers, they might be more inclined to believe in your sales or customer service skills.
6. Consider Your Proficiency Level
Consider your proficiency level in each skill before listing it. It’s wise to prioritize the skills you have mastered or are highly proficient in. Write your proficiency level next to those items instead of writing “self-taught.” It will carry over much better.
7. Take Assessments and Tests To Prove Yourself
Some job search sites offer additional assessments and tests you can take to place on your resume profile. You’d be wise to take those tests because they can back up your claims of proficiency in certain skills.
For example, you can take a leadership assessment if you claim you acquired self-taught leadership skills. Passing the assessment with flying colors can add credibility to your claim.
8. Have All Your Documents Ready
If the employer invites you to an interview, you will need to have supporting documents ready. You can wait until you get a call for an interview, or you can add the documents as resume attachments. You can use pay stubs, screenshots, tax forms, or references to convey that you have the skills and can use them effectively in a work setting.
9. Add Your Educational Ventures
Add your educational course and certification programs even if you didn’t get them from accredited programs. It will be helpful because it lets the employer know that you took the initiative to learn a new skill and dedicated yourself enough to complete the program.
Your choice of a non-accredited program may have been a financial decision. The employer may not hold it against you, as it’s better to have some training than none at all.
10. Explain the Extent of Your Skills
Dig into all the aspects of your skills. For example, don’t just say you are a “self-taught automotive technician.” You must explain how you taught yourself, how you used those skills in a DIY or self-employment setting, and how it relates to the job you are applying for.
Let them know if you used video-based learning, textbook reading, or mechanic shadowing. Explain the specific jobs you did after you acquired your self taught skills and how they benefited you or someone else.
For example, you can state that you effectively replaced a head gasket, alternator, belt, etc., on your vehicle and save yourself over $1,000 in repair costs. But if the prospective employer hires you, you can use those same skills to earn them money.
They may want to place you in their own certification program before allowing you to work, but at least they will know you’re capable of doing the job.
It’s entirely possible for you to land an interview with a lifelong learner resume. The key is to phrase the sentence “I taught myself …” creatively so that you can entice the prospective employer.
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