When I worked as a recruiter, two of the most common phrases that I saw on resumes were “quick learner” and “fast learner.”
Yet these terms mean very little to hiring managers. Every job seeker can (and often does) claim this without evidence.
Coming up, I’ll share examples of what to say instead of “quick learner” on your resume so you can win more interviews.
The first thing an employer is thinking as they read your resume is: Does this person have the skills and experience needed to step into this job and be effective?
Hiring managers want to see specific evidence that you can be successful in the job you applied for.
Saying “quick learner” on your resume doesn’t help convince them of this.
So if you’re a job seeker wanting to show that you can learn a job quickly, what should you do?
The best way to show hiring managers that you’re a quick learner is to provide examples and proof.
Talk about what skills you learned in your previous jobs, and how.
You can demonstrate that you’re a quick learner by including resume bullets like the following examples:
When I worked as a recruiter, the first place I looked on a resume was the work experience section, and in particular, the bullets.
So if you want to show hiring managers that you’re a fast learner, show this skill in your recent work experience.
If you have an example of being a fast learner that needs a bit more space than a resume bullet provides you with, then you can explain more in your cover letter.
A cover letter is a great place to explain how you’d learn a new role and why you would do well in this job even if your previous work was a bit different.
You don’t always need to send a cover letter, but when you’re applying to a new type of job or don’t have all of the experience an employer wants, then a cover letter is useful.
I used the approach discussed above when applying for a job as a tech recruiter…
I had previously only worked as a recruiter in the pharma industry.
I had some relevant skills, but not everything the employer wanted.
(The company would have preferred to hire someone who had worked as a tech recruiter.)
To succeed in this new job, I’d have to learn new concepts, industry terms, and more.
This means it was a bit risky to hire me!
So I explained that although I’d never recruited in tech, I had also never worked as a recruiter in pharma before taking my last job.
And I learned that industry successfully and became one of the top two recruiters in our company.
I discussed my ability to learn industry trends, industry vocabulary, top companies in the space, and more. This SHOWED the hiring manager that I’m a fast learner.
This is how to say you’re a quick learner on your resume and cover letter; not by simply writing “fast learner” or another similar phrase under your list of soft skills.
Ideally, on your resume, you want to show fast-learning skills and relevant experience for a job.
You should never ignore that second piece: relevant experience.
A hiring manager will appreciate that you’re a fast learner who can pick up new concepts, but they’ll be even more excited to hire you if you’ve already done work that’s similar to what they need.
Employers don’t expect you to have every piece of experience they list in the job description, but show as much as you can.
When writing your resume, emphasize any overlaps between your job history and the job requirements.
I’ll share more about this process next…
Before writing your resume and cover letter to show that you’re a quick learner, carefully read the job description of the position.
You want to show that you’ll be able to learn the exact technical skills needed in this job.
Think about which skills the employer seems to want most, and point to whatever you’ve done that’s most similar in a previous job. Highlight this information in your employment history, bullets, skills section, etc.
This is known as tailoring your resume.
Then, you can explain how you’ll fill any gaps in your experience with your quick-learning skills.
But the hiring manager will always be drawn to the relevant technical skills that you do have, more than any claims that you can learn quickly.
Never forget to highlight the skills you already have.
It’s a mistake to highlight how you’ll learn new skills without also discussing how your current skills are relevant to the job you want.
On your resume, you can also show that you’re motivated and passionate about learning in general.
For example, you can discuss any online courses you’ve taken, any certifications you’ve completed, and the skills you learned during that process.
I recommend Skillshare for most online learning.
You can mention courses taken and certifications obtained in your resume skills section, your education section, or both.
Further reading: Guide to resume sections and titles.
When hiring managers look at your resume and see you are learning new skills and taking courses, they’ll think that you’re more likely to be a quick learner in their job, too.
Write about actions you’ve taken instead of simply describing yourself as a “quick learner,” and you’ll have a much more powerful resume.
You can also drop a hint about your commitment to learning in your resume summary section.
For example, you could write:
Digital marketing specialist and lifelong learner with advanced experience in digital advertising, copywriting, and social media management.
“Quick learner” isn’t the only soft skill that hiring managers tend to ignore on a resume (if you don’t provide more detail and proof).
Be careful about including other resume buzzwords like the following (without also giving proof/examples):
A prospective employer is going to respond much better to specific examples of you utilizing these skills.
For example, instead of just writing “creative thinker” in your list of skills, write a bullet about how you used creative thinking to come up with new ideas or solve a problem in a recent job.
Instead of describing yourself as a team player, talk about what teamwork you’ve done and what results you achieved on those teams.
These types of details on your resume will get you invited to more job interviews versus just saying, “Team player.”
Employers appreciate job seekers who can learn new skills quickly, but almost every job seeker claims to be a fast learner, so you need to prove it.
Hiring managers are only going to trust that you’re a fast learner if you show evidence of how you’ve quickly learned a new skill in the past.
On your resume, and then in the job interview, discuss how you learned new skills and new concepts in previous jobs.
And focus on showing experience that overlaps with the required skills in the job description.
The job description will give you clues as to what professional experience an employer wants.
You’ll know you’ve spotted an important skill on a job description if it’s mentioned multiple times or if it’s mentioned high up on their list of requirements/job duties.
It’s okay if you don’t have every piece of previous work experience that the company wants… the job posting is merely their wish list!
Just show as much overlap as you can between your skills and the company’s needs.
Showing relevant experience while also showing proof of your ability to learn quickly will help you get more interviews and job offers from potential employers.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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