Being able to learn new things quickly is one of the most important skills that an employee can have. Employers want someone who they know will be capable and willing to take action.
Here are ways to emphasize being a quick learner on your resume, according to experts.
Career Development Professional | Founder, ComIT
In the post-COVID hiring rush, recruiters are buried in resumes. Endless 8’x11′ white pages are floating across their desk. The challenge for eager candidates is to properly communicate important skill sets, like being a quick learner, without getting lost in the sea of claims that say the same.
Below are a few areas of focus to help candidates emphasize and articulate their contributions as a quick-learner on their resumes:
Candidates can use their portfolio projects to articulate their skills
Quick learning is what’s considered a ‘soft skill’ in the job market. Not to be confused as a term of debasement, soft skills are incredibly valuable to recruitment teams. They’re just harder to demonstrate.
When applying for a job, candidates can use their portfolio projects to really articulate the skills they’re claiming on the resume. If you’re a quick learner, use one of your example projects to show how.
- What new skill did that project require you to learn?
- How were you able to come up with the learning curve, and what did your ability to do so contribute to the group?
These descriptions can be brief and shouldn’t add too much time for someone who’s browsing your portfolio.
Show how a course you took or a skill you acquired translated into real-life action
While ‘description’ and ‘brevity’ seem to be contradictory terms, they’re actually two great rules for creating a standout resume. Many people have the tendency to include dozens of vague skills at the top of their resume, but fewer applicants are able to show how they acquired the skill and how they’re able to use it.
If you’re able to provide a brief example, you can show how a course you took or a skill you acquired translated into real-life action.
This communicates that you’re not only interested in course certificates and buzzwords, but you’re also actively engaged in the project of contributing to your chosen industry. Opting for fewer skills and providing more concrete information on each will help your resume rise to the top of the pile.
Spend the time to search for a word that communicates your skills more accurately
Corporate language all begins to blur together after a long afternoon of candidate screening. For applicants that want to stand out, two extra steps in your resume writing process can help.
- First, get really clear on what you mean to say. Spend an extra moment to think about what you’re offering the recruitment team.
- What does it mean that you can work quickly?
- What specific value could that offer your peers, your manager, and the company?
- Second, spend the time to search for a word that communicates that more accurately. Often, this level of specificity takes us away from the normal resume clichés and allows us to say something meaningful.
- You might thrive in ‘agile team environments,’ or you notice that you’re particularly ‘motivated by complex problem-solving.’
Both of those items relate to your learning, but they say something very specific—and less forgettable—to the recruitment team.
Vice President of Career and Professional Development, St. Catherine University
The Future of Jobs Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum estimated that 85 million jobs might be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge from adapting to the new division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms.
In Michelle Weise’s book, “Long Life Learning,” she also noted individuals would have about 20 career transitions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average number of jobs an individual will have in a lifetime is 12.
Therefore, it’s clear that individuals will change jobs quite a few times in their working lifetime, and their ability to learn is an essential skill for career success.
Related: 10 Best Career Development Books
An essential part of any career transition starts with having an effective resume that can demonstrate an individual’s ability to learn quickly. Companies expect their new hires to jump into the role and immediately impact their bottom line.
With that said, below are practical tips candidates can highlight in their resumes to articulate their ability to learn quickly and stand out:
Show employers you’ve taken the time to learn about their company and how the role will impact their goals
The demonstration should be articulated in the cover letter.
In your cover letter, show the hiring committee that you’ve taken the time to study their company and communicate how your skills and background make you a good fit for the company.
Perhaps talk about a key strategy or state the company’s mission and values in your cover letter and how your background and interests align with their goals. This is an excellent way to stress your quick learner ability. However, keep the cover letter short and tight.
Related: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be
Make sure your resume matches what the employer is seeking based on the job description
Make sure your resume matches what the employer is seeking based on the qualifications in the job description the company has declared most important.
If you don’t align your resume with the job description, that shows you’re not interested, detailed, and have not studied what is most valuable to the company. In addition, this could perhaps indicate you’re not a quick learner or serious about the job to the employer.
Remember, most recruiters take less than ten seconds to look through resumes.
Within the skills section of the resume, highlight your ability to learn as a key competency
In your resume, highlight specific ways you’ve embraced and adapted to change to achieve results. Employers want to see outcomes, so use numbers, data, percentages, etc., in your resume.
- Identify the skills and approaches you’ve used for analyzing and doing research for the project or work you’ve done in the past in your resume.
- Use keywords that show how you’ve learned new technologies, processes, procedures, or adapted to achieve certain results in your current job to demonstrate you’re a quick learner.
- List relevant training, webinars, certifications, and credentials you’ve completed showing an employer that you’re a proactive learner.
Hiring managers care more about how easily you can be trained than showing up with 100% of the qualifications on Day 1. All it takes to emphasize your ability to learn is to take a careful look at the words you’re using and the order of the information on your resume.
Highlight a skills and certifications section
You don’t just magically gain new skills or certifications in one day — you generally need to go through a learning or training process. Make sure you have a skills section and a certifications section. List both hard and soft skills that match the job description of the position you’re applying for.
Just make sure that your skills list isn’t so large that it takes away space from your important work experience section.
Use powerful verbs and words that show transitions
If you initiated a project, emphasize that. Mention projects you noticed a need for because that says you’re observant. If you researched options and chose a new system, emphasize that. Mention projects you developed a skill in order to complete — that is a direct reference to learning on the job.
Some “power words” that can relate to learning:
- Learned (of course)
Add quantifiable information to your resume
Of course, everyone can use flashy power words. What you also need to do is add the quantifiable information to your resume.
- If you discovered problems — how many?
- If you saved the company money — how much?
- If you trained new team members — how many?
- If you implemented a new process — how long did it take? Did you do it faster than expected?
Get your resume sections and experiences in order
Make sure you have the most relevant sections toward the top of your resume. Take another look at the job description of the job you’re applying for — put the experiences that use the most relevant skills at the top.
Only brand new graduates should have their educational information at the top.
Emphasize how you increased your responsibilities, skills, and value throughout your career
If you were promoted within the company at a previous job, make sure that it is clear in your resume.
Use those power words to tell the story of how you increased your responsibilities, skills, and value throughout your career. When you take a step back, your resume should feel like a cohesive story about your professional journey so far.
Related: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out
“I’m a quick learner and can turn this knowledge into business results quicker than my counterparts”
Saying that you’re a fast learner is all well and good, but for me, learning without applying that learning is mere knowledge. It means nothing.
The CVs that stand out for me is when the candidate can take the “quick learner” phrase and turn it into “quick results.” That’s what I am after. I am after results as quickly as possible, so the CV should focus on this.
It tells me that by recruiting you, I will get a quicker return on investment than by employing someone else.
Here’s a quick example:
“I am a quick learner and can turn this knowledge into business results quicker than my counterparts. This has included:
- XYZ Company: The average time of the first sale for new recruits was 5 weeks. I achieved this within 6 days.
- ABC Company: I added my own leads onto our CRM system within the first week. This is normally achieved in week 4 of training.
- XYZ Company: I was able to write tenders after 9 weeks. The average time is normally 22 weeks.”
Do you see the difference?
The application of knowledge and learning is the most important thing that I look for. All things being equally on the CV and maybe in the interview, then I will be looking for candidates to answer this question:
“When will you become effective in the role?”
You become effective by being a quick learner who can take that learning and generate results faster than others.
CPA | Finance Professional | Director of Finance & Accounting, Cover Genius
Show results by sharing specific examples and quantifying those examples
The best way to emphasize being a quick learner on a resume is to show it by sharing specific examples and quantifying those examples. For example, “Promoted from Analyst/Associate to Senior Analyst/Associate within the first eighteen months of employment.”
This demonstrates the ability to quickly learn a role to be promoted to a position with more responsibility.
Show multiple promotions:
Another way to demonstrate being a quick learner on your resume is to show multiple promotions, as it shows you were able to learn a job quickly enough to move on to a role with additional responsibilities.
Use your resume, cover letter, and interview questions as opportunities to share professional examples of times you learned something quickly, and try to quantify how long it took you to accomplish the goal, task, project, or deliverable.
The most important thing is to show results using examples.
- It can be an example of a time where you did “self-learning” to teach yourself something new, for example:
- “I was able to learn the basics of Microsoft Excel within a month by utilizing various resources such as Google, Youtube, and prior colleagues.”
- Try to show that you can learn things quickly by providing the interviewer a situation where you were required to learn something, the actions you took to learn it, and the time you took to learn/ results from learning.
- For example, let’s say you worked at a Starbucks or a bar. You can give an example where you learned how to make a drink. You can say something like:
- “I was hired to work at a local Starbucks/ Bar, and my first day working required me to make a drink that I had never prepared before. The person training me was very busy that day, but by reading the instructions and asking another coworker if they would watch me prepare the order and notify me if I was making any mistakes, allowed me to learn quickly. By the end of the day, I was completing orders as quickly as those who have been working for months. My manager told me that they had never seen anyone learning to prepare orders as quickly as I did.”
- For example, let’s say you worked at a Starbucks or a bar. You can give an example where you learned how to make a drink. You can say something like:
- Another example can be a time where you figured out how to solve a task quickly, which lead to a positive outcome. Think of examples from your career, and have them ready to either use on your cover letter or as an answer to one of the many commonly asked interview questions.
Human Resources Expert | Author, “Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success”
Say that you’re a fast learner in your skills section and provide an example in the qualifications listing
Being a quick learner is something employers, and recruiters will look for in applicants and new hires. So the ability to learn quickly on the job is a very good thing!
Now, as far as your resume goes, there are different ways to show this. One is with a bulleted statement that goes with your overall listing of qualifications that says you’re a quick or fast learner. Another way to go is to provide one or more examples of your being a quick learner.
Here are some examples to illustrate these two strategies:
You can also have this listed with your various other skills. So being a fast learner is considered a skill.
Here are three examples to illustrate how a job seeker might list it:
One question you might have is whether you can use both of these on your resume. And the answer here is yes!
There is nothing wrong with repeating something in different places either for emphasis or to capture readers’ attention wherever they might happen to be looking.
If you want, you could say that you’re a fast learner in your skills section and provide an example in the qualifications listing. These would complement each other rather than merely repeat things.
Senior Placement Specialist | CEO, Senior Home Transitions
“Excellent ability to retain and integrate new ideas efficiently”
Resumes are an integral resource when vetting future employees. It helps us effectively identify who is fit for the role and who is not. Resumes also provide vital information on the personality of the person applying to determine if they can mesh well with the existing atmosphere of the workplace.
Wording is key:
The wording you use to showcase your skills on your resume is key to bagging your dream job. For example, instead of writing “quick learner,” you can write “excellent ability to retain and integrate new ideas efficiently.”
Evidence is necessary:
Remember to back up each skill you obtained or learned with an example of where and how you acquired it.
This opens up a conversation during the interview where you can provide more information about the task at hand and how you tackled it. Being a fast learner is an important skill to mention as it showcases that you will be quick to keep up with the demands of the new workplace.
Senior Employment Advisor, MintResume
List down a particular situation where you exhibited your initiative to learn
One of the things employers look for in applicants is their ability to learn tasks with minimal supervision. Here are some tips to highlight this particular quality in a resume:
- If you’re a career shifter, include the things you do to prepare yourself for the new role
- You can list down the seminars, trainings, projects, etc., that you enrolled in to familiarize yourself with the new role. For instance, you are an IT graduate transitioning to HR work. You need to list down the relevant HR trainings you have attended.
- List down a particular situation where you exhibited your initiative to learn.
- For instance, you were tasked to create a highly technical report. You can share the articles or websites you used as a reference to create the report.
- List down things that you do during your spare time that can help you learn more about the position you’re applying for.
- e.g., reading books and news on trade and finance if you are applying for a business-related position
Chief Marketing Officer, Olive
It’s always better to show rather than tell
Rather than simply stating that you’re a quick learner, make your resume more engaging by telling an interesting anecdote which reflects the statement you’re looking to make.
Think of a time in which your quick learning skills led to a better outcome:
- What was the task at hand?
- What did you have to do, and how did you do things differently to achieve your goals?
Talk about what you took away from the experience, and how you might apply that knowledge to your next role within the company you’re applying for.
This is also a great way to spark a meaningful conversation between yourself and the hiring manager, giving you plenty of things to talk about rather than simply addressing their questions one by one. It’s much more creative and helps you stand out far above other applicants.
Chintan Shah, MBA
President and Managing Partner, KNB Communications
Be sure to include the element of time as well as metrics that relay your mastery
Being a quick learner is an important skill for any employee, but the phrase itself “quick learner” is so prevalent that it has become cliché. The way to emphasize this skill without using a trite colloquialism is to focus on actions you took that produced measurable results.
Be sure to include the element of time as well as metrics that relay your mastery. For example, write:
- “Achieved HubSpot email certification in one week and applied the knowledge to conduct an outbound email campaign, reaching 5,000 contacts with a 25% open rate and a 3.5% click-through rate.”
This shows me you not only learned a concept but were also able to apply it successfully in a valuable context.
HR Business Partner, Zety
Show potential employers you’re quick on the uptake by including a certification section on your resume
One of the best ways to show employers you’re quick on the uptake is to include a certification section on your resume. While it’s considered an optional section, it’ll help show employers that you’re a person who actively learns new skills and strives to improve.
Importantly, in this section, you could list not only certifications but also licenses or training you’ve completed or currently pursuing as long as they are relevant to the role you’re applying for.
To list them correctly on your resume and thus prove you’re a quick learner, you’ll want to add the following:
- Certification/license name
- Body that issued the certification/license
- Dates of obtainment
- Location (only if applicable)
- Expiration (if applicable)
Senior Recruitment Advisor, VelvetJobs
“I am highly trainable and can easily conform to new methods”
In terms of resumes, employers have already seen it all. They’ve come across hundreds of resumes with “quick learner” as a skill. So, how do you emphasize being a quick learner without simply saying it?
Here are some other ways you can say it:
- “I can efficiently grasp and apply new skills.”
- “I have an excellent comprehension of new ideas and concepts.”
- “I am highly trainable and can easily conform to new methods.”
You can say you’re a quick learner with a better choice of words. It makes you, being a fast learner, sound more meaningful and sophisticated.
Chief Resume Writer, Not Your Mother’s Resume
You need to tell a story of how you learned a new methodology/technology in a short amount of time
“Quick learner” is a common resumé phrase that is often used without anything to back it up. The phrase falls into the same category as:
- “communication skills”
- “team player”
Simply putting the phrase “quick learner” on your resumé won’t mean much to a recruiter who has seen that phrase on thousands of other resumes. To emphasize your ability to learn quickly, you need to succinctly tell a story of a time you learned a new methodology or technology in a short amount of time.
- Suppose you’re a tech support representative who was tasked with learning a new version of the software you support. In that case, you can write:
- “Learnt new features of the latest software update in 1 day (average training time is 1 week), and assisted customers with complex questions.”
- A data entry specialist who learned an easier way to use Excel can write:
- “Mastered use of pivot tables through self-teaching methods and trained team on the improved process, saving 4 hours/week.”
Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy Bee
“Within 3 months, promoted from a customer service representative to a team manager”
Being a quick learner and actually showing and emphasizing it in your resume are two different challenges. To ensure that you succeed in both, here is my advice:
Make sure you demonstrate it in your experience section
The most crucial part of your resume is your work experience section. This is where you can write and demonstrate what did you do and accomplished in your previous jobs. Here, you can briefly put in examples of tasks that showed how you quickly caught up, succeed in new roles, and learned rapidly.
For example: “Within 3 months, promoted from a customer service representative to a team manager.”
List your education section showing how active are you in learning new things
Some may think that the resume’s education section is just a simple list of degrees you have written.
Only a few know that you can actually utilize your education section to demonstrate that you are constantly learning new things. You can write the online courses you take, pieces of training you’ve completed, and topics you are currently learning.
Important note: Do not write irrelevant topics you’re taking on.
For example, “SMM MasterClass, 2020-present.”
Co-Founder, eBusiness Institute
Use phrases like “eager to take on new projects”
Being a quick learner in a time where there are countless resources and educational tools available on the internet can be both a detriment and a blessing to an individual’s resume.
It can be difficult to showcase yourself as anything but a quick learner with so many tools in access. A nifty little mnemonic that helps to showcase your capabilities as a swift and ever-eager student is A.B.L.E.
- Actively taking on new projects – stale minds never really leave the comfort zone. Using phrases like “eager to take on new projects” can show a willingness to expand one’s skill set while flexing their creative chops.
- Broadcasting strengths – this can mean highlighting past projects that; entailed a lot of research, applying key learnings from seminars or workshops, or implementing coordination or management skills. Breaking down the idea of being a ‘quick learner’ into real-life experiences can help flesh out and be more specific about an individual’s capabilities.
- Learning never stops – applicants that show they are currently upskilling and are always trying to improve existing skills (with a section on completed and currently enrolled online or in-person courses) will be able to make a stronger case about the extent and ability to learn on the job.
- Expanding on educational accomplishments – while most people say an applicant’s education section should be limited to the year they graduate, adding accolades from school verifying one’s commitment to learning can go a long way!
Financial Management Specialist | Debt Advisor, IVA Advice
Convey your fast learning skills throughout your resume
You may examine the terms and determine where it works best to highlight them on your resume once you have a selection of synonyms and talents that make up your capacity to learn quickly.
An ideal place to include them is in your resume’s skills section, but these words can also add context to your skills, education, and experiences if used carefully.
Your resume’s abilities section will differ based on the resume format you use and the requirements of your profession. Rather than a narrative, it frequently takes the shape of a section of bullet points.
The education portion of a resume is frequently formatted as a list. You might, however, utilize it as an opportunity to showcase your ability to understand topics rapidly. This is because it allows you to demonstrate that you are dedicated to learning.
Rather than merely listing your finite degree achievements, include any education you are currently pursuing that is relevant to your career.
Leadership development, project management certification, or even online seminars to acquire a new approach or way of doing things can demonstrate that you are a lifelong learner with rapid learning skills that can be applied to everyday office tasks.
Previous work experience:
As you share job history with examples of talents and accomplishments in each role, your experience section provides an opportunity to be slightly more narrative.
The facts you include in this section can demonstrate your capacity to learn quickly. Saying you booked more than $250,000 in new business in your first year in a new sales role, for example, demonstrates your ability to immediately onboard and start producing.
Founder & Marketing Director, Spyic
For many years I have been working as a website developer and owner. One of the essential qualities you need to show on your resume is being a quick learner.
To show that you are a fast learner, below are three main pointers to help you emphasize this quality in your following interview:
Take on side projects
Another way to show that you are a quick learner is by taking on side projects. Side projects can be anything, but they are different from freelance jobs in that there is no client attached to the project.
For example, I have a side project where I teach other website developers about social media marketing and how they can use it more effectively on their websites. This project shows employers that I am willing to take the initiative and create my own learning experience outside of work.
Be flexible and ready to try new things
Quality on an excellent employee is their willingness to learn new skills or try new projects. When you are eager to learn, you show the employer that you want to grow.
Most employers look for employees who can work new skills into their current position and be successful. Employers also look for employees who are open to learning from those around them at work. You show this willingness by being flexible and ready to try new things, even outside of your comfort zone.
Look for knowledge gaps and then fill them with books and other resources
Another way to show that you are willing and able to learn is by looking at the knowledge gaps you have and then finding ways to fill them. Knowledge gaps are areas where you lack enough experience with a skill or do not know something at all.
By learning more about these gaps and actively filling them in, you show that you are ready to learn new skills and grow as an employee.
Show that you’ve done something faster, better, more efficiently or effectively
Actions speak louder than words. It’s easy to put down on a resume that you’re flexible, resourceful, and a quick learner, but do your accomplishments verify that claim?
For example, did you take on extra coursework? Did you complete your studies in less time? Did you perhaps become a top salesperson within a year of joining your previous employer?
Such accomplishments (to name a few) truly back up your words and prove that you have what it takes to hit the ground running.
Specifically, the above strongly implies that you’re ambitious, aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, are willing to learn on the fly, and are constantly hungry for more.
This is music to the ears of any hiring manager, as the less time they have to spend training you and showing you the ropes, the earlier you can start contributing to the company.
Essentially, any time you can show that you’ve done something faster, better, more efficiently, or effectively, you’ll have a huge leg up on the competition.
So, always be sure to highlight that as it speaks volumes about your character and demonstrates many desirable qualities employers search for.
Managing Partner | Founder, BeautyTap
“I was promoted from assistant manager to associate manager in two months”
Many people don’t understand what a resume actually is. They think it’s a summary of their work and educational experience. That’s not quite right. A resume is a marketing piece where you frame your achievements to present yourself as a great hire.
Employers want someone who has initiative and won’t need a lot of hand-holding when they begin to learn the ropes. To indicate you have these qualities, give some examples:
- “I revised our telemarketing script within one month of arrival, increasing sales by 500 in the first quarter.”
- “I was promoted from assistant manager to associate manager in two months.”
- “I was chosen to lead a mentorship team of my cohort.”
- “After a month of employment, I was appointed a team leader.”
Give concrete examples of how you have quickly developed new proficiencies
To spotlight yourself as a quick learner on your resume, don’t just write “fast learner” under a general skills list. Instead, give concrete examples of how you have quickly developed new proficiencies. Usually, the best place to do this is when describing your accomplishments for each of your prior positions.
If you’re not already providing summaries of ways that you added value to a company when in a position, that should be your first step. Don’t just copy and paste the job description.
Here’s an example: If you joined a company as a social media manager and later got promoted to a digital marketing director, you could provide a timeline of how you learned the skills it took to move up in the company.
Instead of saying “Promoted after a year,” you could say:
“Learned Google Analytics, Semrush, and Mailchimp in two months; started leading campaigns on these platforms four months after joining the company; promoted after a year in the original role.”
Co-Founder, Twiz LLC
Highlight both your hard and soft skills
When you are applying for a job, make sure you have updated your resume. Make some edits to your resume so that it is more relevant to a job.
Proving to your employer that you are a fast learner can be a difficult task, so make sure you’re mentioning these skills in your resume to show you are a fast learner.
- Highlight both your hard and soft skills. When you highlight your hard and soft skills, it gives an impression that you are a quick learner and always open to learning.
- List additional certifications. Do not forget to add all your certificates. Include all your certificates, which help you emphasize that you are resourceful.
- Give examples. Show them all your professional development skills. This will make them feel you take your career seriously.
CEO, Coach Foundation
Mention any new skills or technologies you gained from each role you have held in the past
Demonstrating that you are a quick learner will be more impactful than merely just saying you are.
Under the Work Experience section, mention any new skills or technologies you gained from each role you have held in the past. Another way to prove you are a fast learner is to mention instances when you were selected to train others on a new skill or technology because you mastered it so quickly.
You should also elaborate on any instances whereby you switched industries and crushed targets within the first few months of the job, even though you were completely new to the industry.
Co-Founder and Marketing Director, School Authority
Cite a previous experience that demonstrates how much of a “quick learner” you are
You can mention your output in your first year in a previous job or highlight a specific achievement in your early days and how it helped the company you were working for. It also helps to be specific about it.
You don’t have to just say you’re a “quick learner.” Use terms like “highly-organized,” “proficient,” and “strategic thinker” to paint the employer a picture of what you have to offer.
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