Is It A Good Idea To Put Online Courses On Your CV?

Hiring teams and potential employers see many CVs for the same post, possibly even thousands. You need your CV to stand out (for the right reasons!) and make them look twice. There are plenty of ways you can achieve this with formatting, but formatting just catches their eye. Your content has to hold their attention. So, is it a good idea to put online courses on your CV?

It is a good idea to put online courses on your CV. Online courses show potential employers that you have initiative, drive, self-discipline, and use your free time productively. Online courses also show that you have niche skills or a unique collection of skills that may be perfect for their company.

Online courses are an excellent way to let potential employers learn something about your character and skills, but how you add them to your CV can make a difference.

Online Courses Show Potential Employers That You Have Desirable Character Traits

Not everyone has what it takes to find, sign up for, and complete an online course. In so doing, you are revealing certain character traits to potential employers.

Online Courses Show That You Can Take Initiative

Online courses are not the traditional way in which people further their education—although it is quickly becoming more popular. But to sign up for an online course shows potential employers that you can take the initiative.

You are not waiting for someone (your parents, your boss, etc.) to tell you to do something, you have decided that there must be a way to better yourself, and so you are taking pro-active steps towards this purpose.

It shows that you can think for yourself and work independently, both of which are valuable traits in an employee and team member.

Online Courses Show That You Have Drive

If you are enrolling in online courses, then you are obviously driven to achieve your ultimate goal. This goal could up-skilling yourself, furthering your career, or making a bold change into a new career.

Regardless of why you did the online course, you had to make the decision, research how best to achieve your goal through online learning, and then sign up for the course.

Employers like a driven employee because they do not have to keep on motivating them to work or keep up the required level of output.

Online Courses Show That You Are Self-Disciplined

Enrolling in and completing online courses shows potential employers that you can work without constant supervision. You can set your own targets and will work hard to achieve them. But how does it show this?

If you are completing online courses, then you are probably doing other things at the same time. It doesn’t matter whether this is parenting, other studies, working, etc., what employers see is someone who can manage their time well—they see someone who is self-disciplined.

Self-discipline is a life skill, not just a work skill. If you are self-disciplined, you are less likely to oversleep and be late for work, take extra-long lunch breaks, get distracted or distract others, etc.

Online Courses Show That You Use Your Time Productively

You could be using your spare time to play video games, watch movies and series, hang out with your friends, or just generally relax. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you are hoping to get a new job, then you need to stand out.

If an employer sees that you have used your evenings (it doesn’t even have to be weekends as well or vice versa) to up-skill yourself and obtain new knowledge, they know that you value work and will not waste time on the job.

Online Course Completion Is Important

There is a caveat here. All the character traits you demonstrated to potential employers by enrolling in online courses will be nullified if you do not complete the course.

You have the initiative to pursue online learning but no drive to complete what you started. You may have the drive to get started and maybe even half-way, but you do not have the follow-through or self-discipline to complete something.

As you can see, not completing a course is really going to give employers a wrong impression of your work ethic and productivity.

If you do not complete an online course, then leave it off of your CV.

If you have a valid reason for stopping the course, for example, it was not adding value to you, then mention this in the interview instead. You can say that you had signed up for the ‘x’ course, but after a few weeks, you realized that it was not benefiting you in any way, so you stopped and instead pursued a different online course that better suited your ambitions.

This can show that you know when to change tactics, and you are not afraid to give up one idea in favor of a better one.

Online Courses Show Potential Employers What Niche Skills You Have Obtained

Online courses are typically quite specific. To list them by name on your CV will show potential employers that you have obtained skill and knowledge in these particular areas. They can then decide if this skill set or knowledge will add value to their company or would be particularly desirable in ‘x’ position.

Online Courses Show Potential Employers A Unique Range Of Skills

People who are coming out of traditional learning institutions will all have a similar range of skills and knowledge.

You might just have the edge over the competition with your online courses because you can identify and study supporting skills that would aid in the execution of a particular job.

Potential employers might look at this and see someone who needs no further training to suit the position and hire you instead of someone who would require additional training in the supporting skill.

Which Online Courses Don’t Look Good On A CV?

Only add the online courses that you have completed to your CV. As mentioned previously, incomplete courses are not going to look good on your resumé.

Potential employers will not just be looking at the name of the course and the skills you have obtained from it; they will be looking at who gave the course.

If a small organization with no reputation conducted the online course, employers wouldn’t give as much credence to the course. If an established and well-known organization or institution hosted the online course, it holds more water with them.

Thus, you need to choose carefully what online courses you enroll in. You don’t want to waste your time and money on something that will not increase your chances of employment.

Tip For Adding Online Courses To Your CV

It’s not just about having online courses listed on your CV; it’s about how you add them.

Firstly, your online courses should never be the focus of your whole CV. They are there to strengthen your profile, not be the only indication of skill and character.

Secondly, place them in a section titled “Professional Training” or “Professional Development”. This section should be below your work experience section. Alternatively, you can include them in the “Education” section if you are just starting out in a professional capacity.

Thirdly, only include relevant courses. If you have done an online course on shoe-making, it will not make you a better candidate for a job as a research analyst. If you wish to include more interest-related courses, add these to the “Interests” section at the end of your CV.

Fourthly, you should give a short—very short—description of what you learned in the course that makes it relevant to the prospective position.


Adding your completed online courses to your CV is a good idea. It shows recruiters and potential employers that you have character traits such as initiative, drive, and self-discipline, which are desirable in any employee.

Online courses can also strengthen your candidacy for jobs in a certain field by providing you will niche skills or even a unique set of skills in that area.

However, you should only include completed courses, courses offered by reputable organizations and institutions, and job-relevant courses.


Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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