UPDATED ON 12/16/2021

Continuous learning is strongly encouraged throughout our careers, yet mentioning those  as pending credentials  can be tricky.

The Resume Debates 4: Pending Credentials Don't Have to Confuse People

So far, we have dived into differing opinions on titlesexperiences, and length of our resumes.

This week, I wish to bring up one of the more touchy elements of them all: pending credentials.

Most of us used to think that we are done with learning once we graduated from school. Then once we step foot into the working world, we realized how wrong we were.

Throughout our careers, we often feel the urge to learn more about anything. Some of it come from work. Some come from our network of people.  And some come from going back to school of any form.

Whether it is earning a degree or attending a weekend certificate program, we gain new knowledge and skills that we want to tell everyone about.

And when that new knowledge contributes to our next goal, we wish to inform employers that we want to meet them where they want us by rising to the challenge brought before us

But it can backfire on us.

Sunbreak Resumes Yes vs. No to Pending Credentials

Life goes on.

We progress.

That progress means continuing our education to score a better future.

We strive to develop and advance our careers throughout our lives. This is especially true if we aspire to climb the corporate ladder or changing our career paths.

And as impatient as we humans are, the majority of us will not wait until graduation to start our job search process to get our careers going. No one has or will ever recommend otherwise.

So what do we do?

We apply for our first job before we complete our courses.

Yet, the corporate world provide such mixed messages about how superiors view incomplete schooling.

On one hand, recruiters and hiring managers like to see our passion for learning and our ambition for improving ourselves, even if it is a work-in-progress. However, on the other hand, some of them judge us with suspicion, questioning whether we would actually finish the courses.

No one can blame them for that. I mean, how many of us have started an online course and ended up dropping it?

So what are we supposed to do?

My Opinion

It depends.

For new graduates or career changers, stating a degree or certification as “pending” shows that we are willing to learn and take initiative to prepare ourselves for our targeted position. When doing so, make sure to include classes or personal projects as well to affirm our passion and assertiveness in making this robust pivot in our careers.

In contrast, for professionals who are taking courses with the aim to gain a promotion in the same line of work, declaring a pending credential is not as beneficial. Again, who knows if you would, indeed, complete and pass it? In this case, it may be wiser to wait until completion of the course to add it to our resumes or LinkedIn profiles, then subsequently apply the newly acquired knowledge at our current jobs or in personal projects to add to our portfolios.

Like anything else, there is no definitive answer here either. It’s what works for us individually.

Sunbreak Resumes To Pend or Not To Pend

Everyone has the capacity to learn — the passion to learn — whatever the subject may be. And if that subject is work related, then we have every right to proudly add it to our credentials even when the learning is unfinished since learning is never finished.

Nevertheless, striving to learn somehow attracts unwanted scrutiny, and no one can be antagonized for doubting our commitment to finish something when many do not.

Therefore, depending on our past, our current situation, and our desired future, it may or may not be beneficial.

For those of us who are new grads, declaring pending credentials gives us a boost.

For career changers, declaring the credential is a choice, but definitely support it with actual applications to show due diligence toward the new path.

For corporate-ladder climbers, it may be best to wait until completion.

In any case, call it “Pending”. Call it “Work-In-Progress”. Call it “Incomplete” (actually, don’t call it that).

It’s all professional growth and growth enriches our lives.



Stay tuned for the next topic of debate, including locations to your resume or decide on what works for you with your free consultation.

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