I just got a question from a woman about whether to add “PMP” after her name. She asked specifically about LinkedIn. The question also is relevant to resumes.

Here’s part of my answer: You can add it to your name, but I don’t think it adds too much and could result in people pigeon-holing you as a Project Manager.

Generally speaking, adding degrees after your name is useful when you want to convey via shorthand that you are extremely well-qualified and trained for a position that requires the degree or uses the associated skills. If that’s what you’re going for, by all means add the degree.

I find that usually it’s PhDs, MDs, JDs, MSWs who add those degrees because they imply a profession of some sort. Sometimes MPH (Masters of Public Health) or MFA (Masters of Fine Art) – those are often “terminal” degrees, meaning they qualify for a profession without having to go on to a doctorate. Those people usually are looking for work in that field, so being defined by their degree is exactly what they want.

Otherwise, most holders of Masters degrees don’t list it next to their name. Listing an MBA is especially frowned upon, for reasons that are unclear to me; I just believe recruiters would laugh if they saw someone’s name with “MBA” next to it. That kind of education is to be discovered in the education section – which gives people a reason to scroll down, which makes them glance at your experience, too.

You can add special certifications to the “Specialties” section on LinkedIn, and you can have a “CERTIFICATIONS” section on your resume. This makes clear that your degree, licensure or certification is one of your qualifications, rather than the defining one.

There are exceptions to this, of course. If you want to do project management exclusively, then definitely list PMP. If you have a special license, you can put that after your name – if you are looking for work in that field. For one thing, people outside the field won’t understand the initials. For example, Registered Dietitians looking for work in that field would put “RD” after their name. Does anyone outside of food service know what “RD” means, though?

I’ve also seen people put degrees on their business cards when networking. This makes a certain sense because you only have this small piece of paper on which to make critical points. It’s the only place I’ve seen “NAME NAME, MBA” where it’s looked normal and not cringe-inducing.