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Those of you who have a CV on careers.stackoverflow.com probably know that there is a section called Technologies under which you can mention the technologies you like or dislike; something like this:

Technologies

That seems good in a profile-like CV which is on the net.

My question is,

  • Is it a good idea to mention "likes" and especially "dislikes" in resume which we send to companies in PDF format which (supposedly) should be short and concise?
  • If yes, why?
  • If no, why not?

I searched for similar topics and came across these which do not really answer my question, but nevertheless interesting:

migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Mar 20 '13 at 16:53

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  • I do, and I have been asked about them (usually with some humour and agreement). The dislikes made for interesting talking points, and I feel they make my CV stand out. – Martijn Pieters Mar 20 '13 at 16:23
  • @MartijnPieters: I think somewhat along the same line! – Nawaz Mar 20 '13 at 16:27
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    And what does "dislike" actually mean? That you won't do it if it happens to come across your desk? Sounds kind of picky-- like somebody who won't eat their peas. :-) I "dislike" excel macros but I do them sometimes because they help other people and get work done. I don't see how a dislike listed on a resume can be interpreted as anything other than negative. – Angelo Mar 20 '13 at 20:10
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    I'd say if you don't like it, take it off the resume altogether so you're not getting trapped by keyword scans. – DA. Mar 20 '13 at 21:18
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    Dislikes: "Overly negative people" (Calvin & Hobbes). I know, it's not a real comment. Sometimes I can't resist. – minopret Mar 20 '13 at 22:37

10 Answers 10

86

A resume or a CV is something that is used to get your foot in the door for a phone call or an interview. It is a sort of filter, not a definitive gold master of information about you.

Consider what can go wrong with putting your dislike of javascript on your resume:

  • Imagine that you are passed over for your absolute dream job that pays 2x as much as what you're currently making because it would require 15 min a day of javascript. Nobody wants to hire someone who is going to be unhappy doing their job, but would it really matter for you given other perks? Don't you want to be the one who makes that call? If you put it on your resume, you forfeit that option.

  • It is not standard practice, and because it is inherently a negative thing you stand out as a 'downer'. I don't know anyone that wants to work with a complainer. With this on the resume, you already started complaining about a technology before first contact. This does not formulate a good first impression.

  • Being religious about technology is Not A Good Thing (tm). I have my preferences, they are strong, but I put business value and getting things done above them. Putting dislikes on your resumes works to show the opposite, and thus decreases your value to any potential company (after all, they want working product, not code written in some framework).

  • Resumes get cached for all eternity by recruiters. What if your opinions about javascript change in 3 years? Heck, what if you decide that it's the best thing since sliced bread? It will be very awkward if someone pulls up one of your old resumes.

As such, I would strongly recommend against putting dislikes on your CV or resume. It is much better to express your dislikes during the initial contact with a recruiter if you feel that it is relevant.

  • 1
    @pdr - Any leads that are primarily for a technology I despise enough to list as a "dislike", but have used as part of a previous job, that are thwarted before wasting my time and that of the recruiter is a win in my book. – Shauna Mar 20 '13 at 18:33
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    @Shauna: Simply don't mention those technologies. I used to be a COBOL developer; it doesn't mention that anywhere on my CV. I never get calls for COBOL jobs. If you DO mention them, you're at least wasting the time of an agent who is searching for key technologies in CVs. It's very unlikely their search is clever enough to ignore dislikes. – pdr Mar 20 '13 at 18:52
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    @Shauna: I don't understand at all why you need to list the technology, if you've no interest in pursuing it. Just describe what you were doing, not what you were doing it in. As an interviewer for a PHP job, I might ask, but I'm not going to hold it against you if I had to. – pdr Mar 20 '13 at 19:40
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    @EVERYONE your all missing the point here. This should get a +1 for this line alone: "Resumes get cached for all eternity by recruiters." I get calls all the time about old resumes that I don't even remember anymore... – Ryan Mar 20 '13 at 21:14
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    @Shauna the problem is most recruiters don't read your actually resume anymore. They have software that pulls data from your resume into a database. So where you say "Dislikes .Net" it goes ".Net" and now you'll get more .Net calls. (You have to write your resume to be Recruiter friendly these days) Case and point the very first line of my resume used to say "Will not consider any contract or contract to hire positions" guess what most calls were? Your resume should be what you are offering, not what you aren't. If you aren't offering it, don't mention it. (just call .net jobs software dev) – RualStorge Apr 30 '15 at 17:16
22

There are two well-known measures of the quality of a search: precision and recall. In the context of a job search, high precision means most of the interview requests you get are for jobs that are interesting and relevant to you. High recall means there aren't many jobs you would be interested in that don't come to your attention.

Adding dislikes to your resume has the effect of increasing precision, but lowering recall. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your circumstances. If you are unemployed, you can deal with a job that has some aspects you dislike, because you need the money. You also want to make sure you don't miss a single opportunity, even if you have to deal with sifting through some irrelevant offers.

If you are happily employed, higher precision and lower recall is a good thing. You might accept a dream job, but you don't want to be peppered with offers you have zero interest in. Missing out on a few opportunities isn't as big a deal because you're already content where you are.

  • +1 for noting the advantage of filtering out leads you have no interest in. – Shauna Mar 20 '13 at 18:44
  • The recall/precision argument is interesting, but this answer does not address the point of people with dislikes appearing as 'prima donnas', which doesn't actually have anything to do with technology but is near universally considered a negative. (For the record: I do like the answer and I'm glad it's here to compete with mine. If there is reasoning to address this point, I'd be curious to known about it.) – MrFox Mar 21 '13 at 15:30
  • The prima donna effect is what lowers your recall, but not everyone considers simply acknowledging your dislikes to be a negative. If you've worked 10 years as a programmer and haven't picked up any dislikes, you're either extremely lucky, lying, or dispassionate about your work. I wouldn't want to work somewhere that didn't recognize that. – Karl Bielefeldt Mar 21 '13 at 15:49
13

Generally, this would be a bad idea assuming your intention is to get a job offer.

From the hiring manager's perspective, there are two main possibilities.

  • If they don't use the technology that you dislike, they may just ignore the dislike that you listed. But they may conclude that you are rather picky and that you're more likely than the average candidate to balk if they need you to take on some technology outside of your listed "likes." So, at best, you don't gain anything and you lose something.
  • If the company does use the technology that you dislike, even if your role wouldn't necessarily do much with it, the hiring manager is likely to suspect that you'll have problems interacting with the people on staff that do use that technology. If you hate Javascript but have to work with Javascript developers, the fear is that you would tend to focus on the limitations of the language or look down on the Javascript developers rather than focusing all your effort on effectively collaborating with them to solve the business's problems. If your role does involve the occasional bit of a disliked technology, the hiring manager may conclude that you're a bad fit even if your other skills line up well and you'd be perfectly happy to do 99% of your development in languages you like. Almost always, your likes will work against you here.

Of course, there are individual companies where the general advice wouldn't make sense. If you are customizing your resume for a job with Technology Company A who you know competes with Technology Company B, it may make sense to indicate how much you love A's products and how disappointing you find B's products. If you are customizing your resume for a job with a company that has an "edgy" vibe and a business model that embraces particular technologies and eschews others, showing in your resume that you agree may earn you some points.

Now, if your goal is not simply to get a job offer but to get a very particular type of job offer, you may view some of the downsides as upsides. If you really want to make sure that you never have to touch a line of Javascript or associate with anyone that does or if you only want to work for a technology company with a particular philosophy whether that is supporting open source software or leveraging the full Microsoft stack or something else, discouraging hiring managers that don't have that very particular sort of opening is a feature not a bug. Most people will be open to hearing about the opportunity and deciding about how to balance all the positives and all the negatives if and when an offer is made. But some developers have very strong opinions and know they would never consider a job that didn't align with their interests.

  • Good points on tailoring your resume for specific companies, I do think outside of these cases the dislikes will probably be more a burden than a benefit when the parser see "Dislikes .Net" then flags ".Net" now the recruiter calls you because their software justs lists .Net under your skills. – RualStorge Apr 30 '15 at 17:24
12

As a hiring manager, if I saw a Resume or CV with dislikes on it, I would file it in the round file. You want resume to portray a level of professionalism. This means that you’ll do anything including your dislikes. Seeing a list of dislikes on a resume is like seeing a list of tasks that you are unwilling to do.

A hiring manager is looking at the CV or Resumes to see who they would like to interview. Often they get a pile of resumes or CVs of very qualified individuals.

They review the CV for things to narrow the list down to a manageable level. Misspellings will definitely get thrown out. Work history too short or too long will often be a factor as well. Anything that the manager dislikes on the CV or resume can be a potential “pass on this one”.

They want to save time talking to everyone. The key is to be very positive, show accountability and a can do attitude in your resume. They are looking for real accomplishments. There will be time to talk about dislikes after you get face to face with the manager.

  • +1. As a professional, I am expected to be able to use any technology I know. It might be legacy and not my preferred, and I would not actively look for a position using disliked technology, but I can use it if company requires it. – Peter M. Apr 23 '14 at 23:35
9

As someone who hires and makes a lot of snap decisions reading application packages I have to say this would turn me off. When I'm reading I'm trying to get a picture of what it's like to work with the person, whether I can ask them to do something they haven't done before, how they'll fit in with the team. Someone who announces what they don't like sounds a bit like a child who refuses to eat broccoli. I can probably find someone with the same qualifications who can handle (or deftly avoid) broccoli.

I can picture an interviewer asking about dislikes, and if so it's an invitation to open up and talk a bit more about yourself. But it still has to be handled with care.

8

Not only is the "dislikes" category a bad idea, but so is its dual, "likes". Or rather, how it is labeled. Those are the things you know, part of your skill set. It can be assumed that the things you work with, you like. (If you don't, that's your problem.)

Imagine if a carpenter/framer had that on his resume:

  • Likes: 2x4's, nail guns, circular saws

  • Dislikes: helmets

Some people will find humor in this, but others may just see it as dumb.

There isn't much useful information content in "I like C++" or "I dislike Javascript". You probably don't like everything about C++, and don't dislike every aspect of Javascript. Your likes and dislikes require proper justification, and that belongs in an opinion paper or blog. There is no space in a resume to do your likes and dislikes the proper justice, so that they are portrayed as well-considered opinions rather than prejudice.

7

I strongly disagree with MrFox's answer. In order to avoid prolonged comments, I provide my answer.

If a job requires you to use a technology you dislike, it is not your absolute dream job. Period.

If you list your dislikes in your resume, you save everybody time.

The following is my story,

I like a particular programming language A. I dislike many others. When the project using A I was working on terminated, I was told this was it, go look for other projects using other languages. I learned other languages. I drifted around many projects using many other languages. I ended up with receiving 60 day lay off notice three and half years after the drifting period. My then boss wanted to help me. He asked me what do I want to do, I said I want to work on A. He helped me to find a place where A was being used. I transferred to that project and stayed there until I retired.

All the projects involved above were with the same company.

If you like something, you'll be good at it. You'll perform well. If you have to use a technology you dislike, I don't know how you can perform.

You can do an experiment yourself (this would be an experiment for yourself, so don't cheat). Use a technology you like, see how many lines you can code in a day. Then use something you dislike, measure the performance. If you're not a programmer, you can do a similar experiment. Look at the results, then make the decison whether you want to list your dislikes on your resume. Do you really want to do that stuff you really dislike? If yes, list it. If no, don't.

You are the only one who knows the answer to your question.

  • 1
    Ironically, I agree with your sentiment. At this point in my career I am extremely picky about what I work with. IMHO people who don't care about technology entirely can't possibly be passionate about their trade. My answer is not suggesting that you ignore this. What I'm asserting is that a resume is just another tool in a job matching & negotiation process. The whole thing is a game with uncertainties, possible miscommunications, and a lot of subjectivity. This game has specific rules, and if you don't follow them you put yourself at a disadvantage. – MrFox Mar 21 '13 at 15:46
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    @MrFox My point is the result of the game. Even if you win the game, so? You may end up with doing something you dislike. Would this be really good for anybody? You win the battle, but loose the war. I strongly disgree with your answer. – scaaahu Mar 22 '13 at 4:13
  • If you want to be an A programmer as a career, then simply build your resume around that. There is no need to add that you dislike some specific B and C. A Visual Basic programmer has Visual-Basic-oriented material on his or her resume, as if nothing else existed (and from that it can be inferred that the person likes VB). You probably won't find "Dislikes: OCaml, Haskell, Erlang and Forth" anywhere. – Kaz Apr 30 '15 at 17:31
4

Well I don't see why an employer would care if I like a certain technology or dislike the other when he would be more interested in my proficiency in it.

In addition, I'm not sure how an employer would react to such info. Mentioning that I'm expert in C# but dislike it is somewhat contradicting although it could be justified.

I'm not an expert on resumes, but I kinda feel that "likes" & "dislikes" are somewhat emotional and could generate a false impression about me.

That said, I was once asked if I preferred Open Source technologies vs Microsoft technologies for development. Since I was applying for a vacancy as an open source developer I felt it was normal to mention my hatred for MS technologies. However, I gave reasons for my opinion and examples of things I couldn't solve using closed source technologies.

TL;DR

Don't write it in your CV, but talk about it in the interview where you can justify your opinions and give the correct impression.

1

It's fine for the SO CV, but the rest of the industry is way behind and will think negatively about it. Don't forget, it many jobs you go through a recruiter, HR, and possibly some other non-technical manager. You'll just confuse them.

Focus your resume on the job requirements. For the areas where you have no expertise, you can show some related knowledge (e.g. I know this ORM but not that one.) along with your desire and ability to pick up on new things.

You can always ask about an undesirable language during the interview process. What was the reason for using X? You never know, they may want to get rid of it, so they're open to something better. Wouldn't that be the job you want?

  • 1
    I think your last paragraph is unrealistically optimistic. Even after everyone agrees that something is terrible and should be replaced, it's often years before it's actually eliminated. If you dislike working in JavaScript, then you'll also dislike working in legacy JavaScript. – ruakh Mar 20 '13 at 23:49
  • In my experience, "wanting to get rid of it" never becomes "gotten rid of it." – Shauna Mar 21 '13 at 13:05
0

I would say yes those "likes" and "dislikes" can be conveyed but not in such raw terms. I think it's better to specify in more general terms what your experience is and how you determine what works for you and your work function as apposed to what doesn't work. I agree that it is just as important to know what does not work as it is to know what works. Stating specific things like "I like Cisco" is not practical. Stating you have experience with Cisco switches and are familiar with them and they have worked great for your purposes tells the hiring manager more.

My two cents...

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