CV = Certified (to Play the) Violin


When applying for jobs, is it really worth your time to get one of those online certificates declaring that you can type 60 WPM? To break the Fourth Screen for a moment (no, we’re not referring to our lack of an iPhone case): Terri, a Trendlines subscriber from e-learning platform Bisk, wondered whether accredited and/or non-accredited certificates provide a tangible resume boost. If you want to join Terri in receiving a certificate of our appreciation, submit an idea here.


Now that even OnlyFans isn’t safe from AI, more Americans may be forced to put some real skin in the game and lower themselves to get an office job their parents don’t think is lucrative. If the job requires specific skills, it may be necessary to acquire an accredited certificate (e.g., Certified Public Accountant), or a non-accredited certificate (e.g., Google IT Support Professional Certificate from Coursera) to show off on that resume. Can’t hurt to throw in your D.A.R.E. diploma, or those gold stars you got from Mrs. Meadow in the second grade, either. Or can it?


Thirty-two percent of Americans have an accredited certificate and 26% have a non-accredited certificate. But, to Terri’s question, does a certificate make a more impressive resume? To find out, we designed a conjoint experiment to pit certificates against education level and years of work experience.



It’s still not time to let go of that grudge against Harvard for the grad school rejection, as Americans view education (which drives 41% of resume impressiveness) and work experience (39%) as much more important than certificates (20%) in determining what makes an impressive resumeThough we didn’t test this, we assume using Comic Sans would make for the most impressive resume of all.


Accredited certificates are slightly preferred over non-accredited (59% vs. 41% probability of preference), which makes us think about whether we should find a dentist who has more than just a framed “World’s Softest Knocker” from the School of Hard Knocks certificate on their wall.