I tend to spend a large amount of my free time reading up on courses in my under-graduate study such as Theory of computation and Natural language processing.

Although I do it for my personal pleasure, I was wondering if there was any way I can use that to enhance my resume. The reason I am asking this question is because the subjects I study are fairly theoretical which I think doesn't factor much into hiring decisions made by companies. I have already read "Is it ok to put the courses that I have self-studied in my resume? what should be the wording?", and one option from there is to do an online certification course. However since I have already done the course as part of my previous study, so I was wondering whether doing it again will serve any purpose. Any thoughts?

  • I'm trying to parse/understand your question. Please confirm or correct my assumptions: You have a degree that already covers the base information, and included courses on these topics. Post graduation, you've continued studying these topics. And your question is "How do I communicate to potential employers that I've studied these topics in more depth and more recently than during my time in school?"
    – Chris G
    Sep 6, 2016 at 15:10
  • Yes that is correct. Also obviously indicate that I find such subjects intresting Sep 6, 2016 at 15:12
  • Anything I've self-studied but have not yet put into practice, I put down as "Knowledge of" Sep 6, 2016 at 15:15
  • @RichardU Thanks for the suggestion, that does seem like good wording Sep 6, 2016 at 15:26
  • When you list a skill on a resume, it doesn't matter how you learned that skill. Sep 6, 2016 at 15:48

3 Answers 3


There a few different ways to do this, and as previous people mentioned, it can depend on the customs of your Country, some argue that you can put that information in a Cover Letter, as it is more personable. You can also place it in a bio, or use it as a conversation point during the interview.

In the Resume you can add a sub-section under "Work Experience" or have a separate "Skills/Proficiencies" subject a bullet outline it out there, can have it as "Knowledge Of" or "grade" your knowledge by using Intermediate, Expert, etc sort of naming category. That depends solely on your structure - I have written quite a bit of resumes, and have used either.

You can also put it in an "Extra-Curricular" section that you could use to list volunteer organizations, coaching, etc and have your "self-study" stuff in there. Again, depends on your format - some HR Departments are pretty strict in that they want a 1 or 2 page Resume, and that can add unnecessary length, or the HR monkeys just Crtl+F it and do not take a look.

As a hiring manager on certain business areas (I am a program manager and like interviewing all incoming project managers, business analysts and systems analysts) it is a good talking point. I like finding candidates that strive to better themselves at other things than just work, and it helps break the tension if they are nervous. Some others do not like seeing it as it is a "distraction" but that is a judgment call.

  • All valid suggestions, but I'd argue that a student should always put this info on his resume, regardless of whether he decides to bring it up in the cover letter or interview, unless he has so much relevant work/internship experience that he risks going over one page.
    – Lilienthal
    Sep 7, 2016 at 6:25

When I'm interviewing applicants, I love to see that they have extra-curicular activities. Also, I tend to prefer the candidates who are curious and want to learn new things outside the actual work.

Having said that, I usually take a good and, on occasion, a bit too cynical look into whether those "self taught" skills are real and verifiable. Not saying that you haven't achieved a certain skill. Just that people in general sometimes do exaggerate the accomplishment and if it can't be verified by an impartial evaluation, anybody can claim it.

But definitely, do mention it. At the bottom. So that they know what you're made of if the main stuff have caught their interest.

The exact form depends on the custom of your region. I prefer a single document, CV, with a few sections. In other countries, they want this separate thing, personal letter or whatever it's called.

  • Thanks for informing me that studying such things is not a complete waste of time from professional perspective :) Sep 6, 2016 at 15:23
  • @KiranYallabandi Of course! At least around here - "I only do one thing and I have no interest outside my specialty" means "boring person, not curious and probably a burn-out within short". It might vary in your area, though. Also, you need to convince the interviewer that those extra skills are true. Also, keep in mind - those are extra skills. Can't substitute for the requested ones. Two applicants for a front-ender but only one knows Japanese. Let's go with him. But you have to be equally good at front-end. Sep 6, 2016 at 18:16

That is information to include in a cover letter.

In your cover letter, mention that you have a passion for computer science that includes self-study into areas of personal interest such as the Theory of Computation and Natural Language Processing, etc.

Resumes aren't great for nuance or anything outside the typical mold. Include your education and relevant work experience. Maybe include an Areas of Interest section if your work history is sparse.

  • I would have upvoted this if I had enough rep.... thanks for the suggestions , I get the general gist of where to put such things Sep 6, 2016 at 15:22
  • Do people still write cover-letters? I've never used nor had an applicant use one. IMHO it's rather old-fashioned, especially in tech industry.
    – RJFalconer
    Sep 6, 2016 at 15:51
  • @RJFalconer I used one as part of my application to my two most recent gigs. In my last position, I would say 5% of entry-level resumes came with a cover letter (all I was hiring). The quality of those candidates was generally higher (I didn't track it as part of my metrics, so it's an unscientific recollection). edit: I wish I had access to my old data. I know at least 30% of my hires provided a cover letter which lends towards cover letter ~= better candidate.
    – Chris G
    Sep 6, 2016 at 16:01
  • @RJFalconer, around here a lot of employers ask for cover letters. They also make you fill out applications even when you have a resume and cover letter. So maybe things are backwards where I live.
    – user41891
    Sep 6, 2016 at 20:57

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