“No experience, but I learn things really quickly, I promise!”
It doesn’t exactly sound professional, does it? But if you can’t come right out and say it, how can you let hiring managers know that you’re a quick learner? You have four different places — we'll go into each one in the article:
- Bullet points: A line like "Optimized financial reporting process by upgrading accounting system; doubled process efficiency and reduced errors by 25% within one year of joining the company" tells people you not only learn quickly but also make impact fast.
- Different skills and departments: One thing hiring managers love to see is a broad range of responsibility — perhaps you managed a team that involved everything from design, coding, operations and marketing. This shows you are able to learn new skills, even if they're outside your subject matter expertise.
- Skills section: Showing knowledge of actively learning new skills is another good way to show you're a quick learner.
- In your cover letter or resume summary
How to show you’re a quick learner
In your resume's bullet points
Like any soft skills, you should demonstrate that you’re a fast learner through your bullet point accomplishments. Choose examples that demonstrate your ability to learn quickly, like cross-training in other departments or an early promotion.
Let's take a look at a few examples of actual bullet points you can use on your resume:
- Designed online customer support center comprising of a self-service knowledge base and interactive chat; reduced customer support calls by 45% within the first 8 months
The keyword "first 8 months" is an effective way to show your ability to make immediate impact at organizations you work in. Ultimately, that's what recruiters look for — saying you're a fast learner isn't enough, you need to show that you can actually implement what you learned.
- Cut projected time for data analysis by one week by developing reusable ETL components using Pentaho Kettle
Nothing says “fast learner” like getting things done ahead of schedule. Include accomplishments where you expedited a process or fast-tracked results.
- Promoted within 12 months due to strong performance and organizational impact (one year ahead of schedule)
Similarly, an early promotion is always a good thing to include on your resume. In this case, it underscores that your ability to learn quickly was noticed by others and resulted in business gains. Here's how these bullet points could fit on a resume:
The structure of your bullet points should largely remain the same:
- Start your bullet point with a relevant action verb, like Accelerated, Mastered, or Expedited.
- To emphasize being a fast learner, you can also varying up your action verbs and use ones like "Researched", "Analyzed", "Learned" or "Optimized" which all show you're someone who can learn new technical skills.
- Remember to follow this up with exactly what you did and what it achieved for the company — numbers and metrics are your friends.
When you’re done, use Score My Resume to find out how you score and give you tips on how to quickly improve your resume.
Varying responsibilities and involvement in various departments
One thing hiring managers love to see is a broad range of responsibility — perhaps you managed a team that involved everything from design, coding, operations and marketing.
This is extremely positive from a hiring manager's perspective, as that shows you were able to quickly get up to speed when using new skills in a professional setting.
So, when you're writing your bullet points, make sure to stress different skills — you can do that by varying up your use of action verbs and highlighting across different departments. Let's look at an example:
- Led evaluation and selection of new CRM system; spearheaded a cross-functional team (Technology, Business Development, Management) to implement the system; successful adoption accelerated revenue growth by 25% in 1 year
- Devised a pricing and branding strategy with the Strategy team to launch a new three-tier pricing model; achieved a 27% increase in profit
Another place that you can highlight you're a fast learner is in your resume summary. A sentence like "Self-taught Python developer" in your resume summary is effective at doing this.
Here's a summary example you might find useful:
Show you're a fast learner through the application process
It’s not just a cliche — actions really do speak louder than words. If you say that you’re a quick learner on your resume, hiring managers will be looking for evidence of that in how you act throughout the hiring process. That means you’ll need to:
- Take initiative. Seek out answers for yourself rather than asking the recruiter basic questions.
- If you land an interview, prepare some answers for behavioral questions that show your ability to learn quickly; for example, a time you picked up a new skill at work or were able to work independently at a higher than expected level.
- Be prepared to hit the ground running when you start the new job! If you’ve sold yourself as a quick learner, you may need to forgo some basic hand-holding.
How to say you're a quick learner in your cover letter
Your cover letter, if you have one, give you a chance to expand a little on how being a quick learner is relevant to the position you’re applying for. That means you should:
- Focus on how it relates to the job. You want the hiring manager to understand how your ability to learn quickly will benefit them.
- Use concrete examples, similar to how you should list accomplishments in your experience section.
- Use synonyms so you aren’t just saying “quick learner” over and over. Try “adept,” “capable,” “receptive,” “retain information,” and “able to quickly grasp new concepts.”
In your cover letter, you can use sentences like the following to show you're a fast learner:
- "I'm someone who hits the ground running — at [Role], I implemented a new process to reduce customer complains by 20% in my first 3 months."
- "Although I hadn't formally learned or programmed in Python, I was able to quickly learn and use my existing programming knowledge to start fixing bugs in just the first two months after joining"
- "At my last role, I quickly got up to speed with [new system or process that you have not used before]..."
You can also discuss how you joined a new role that was very different to my last role — increased and varied responsibility is always effective at showing you're a quick learner.
Why is being a quick learner an advantage?
Being a quick learner can be a valuable skill to include on your resume, but it has very little meaning on its own. Hiring managers don’t necessarily care that you’re a fast learner, but they do care what you can do with it. That means emphasizing related skills like:
- Active listening
- Organizational skills
- Learning new skills and processes
- Tech fluency
- Multitasking / wearing multiple ‘hats’
- Acting on feedback
Being a quick learner isn’t about being smart or academic performance, so don’t focus on things like GPA (unless you’re a very recent graduate) or test scores.
Instead, focus on job-specific skills, like the ability to quickly absorb new information and hit the ground running in a new position, or requiring minimal supervision to get the job done. But don’t list those as skills or buzzwords — remember that being a fast learner is a soft skill, which means you need to demonstrate it through your accomplishments.
Also worth keeping in mind is that while the ability to learn quickly can be an advantage if you’re new to the workforce or changing careers, it doesn’t replace actual experience. Someone with relevant skills, education, and work experience on their resume is almost always going to be more appealing to a hiring manager than someone they’ll have to train, however briefly.
Ready to get started? Here are some other examples that you can copy directly or tailor to reflect your own experience.
RESUME WORDED UNIVERSITY
Master of Science in Management with Honors; Major in Management
Expected May 2022
Awards: Bill & Melinda Gates Fellow (only 5 awarded to class), Director’s List (top 10%)
CFA Level 2
One of the best ways to demonstrate that you’re a quick learner is through a commitment to ongoing learning. In addition to any prestigious awards, make sure to include any relevant mid-career qualifications in your Education section.
Skills section examples
Languages: Fluent in French (native), English; Conversational Proficiency in Chinese
Including skills you’ve picked up — including technical skills and foreign languages — is a great way of showing your ability to quickly grasp and retain information.