20

I'm updating my resume, and have realized that many programming skills are very brief and abbreviated.

My old resumes would list them in a bulleted list, however due to all the new technologies I'm adding, this leads to a rather long list of very short items, with a lot of whitespace to the right of the section.

I am wondering if it would be appropriate to list these items in a table instead of a list, or to put them inline in a sentence

For example,

* C#
* WPF
* WCF
* VB.Net
* ASP.Net
* HTML
* CSS
* Javascript
* T-SQL

versus

C#      VB.Net      HTML
WPF     ASP.Net     CSS
WCF     T-SQL       Javascript

versus

C#, WPF, WCF, VB.Net, ASP.Net, HTML, CSS, Javascript, T-SQL

Is one method preferred over others on my resume to make it easier for employers or recruiters to scan through?

  • 3
    Btw, this isn't at all specific to programming, I think this applies for anyone with a lot of skills (CAD, design, etc). – enderland May 23 '13 at 14:37
  • I list mine in a two column "table" (I quote because it's not formatted as a table, just tabbed out that way). For readability, I would say definitely go with a table. The bulleted list takes up way too much valuable space, and the sentence structure doesn't given enough visibility. – Dave Johnson May 23 '13 at 14:42
  • Maybe it's a good idea to add versions to some of the techs you are familiar with? (C# has changed a bit over time. The abilities of CSS have really changed over time) – Onno May 23 '13 at 14:48
  • Alphabetical list makes it easier to find something they're looking for and it avoids making an impression that one technology is "more important" than another – Brandin Jul 31 '14 at 6:15
  • 1
    @gnat I agree the questions may be similar, however I prefer the answers given to this one over the one you linked. Of course, I may be biased since I accepted this answer, but if others think so too I'd rather see that one closed as a duplicate to this one instead of vise versa, or the answers merged. – Rachel Oct 28 '14 at 11:55
28

I'm no hero when it comes to CVs, but there's a lot of .Net tech in that list. I'd list those in one line. That way you make most of the space available. You could opt to use some kind of matrix style. I'd still make some kind of distinction between the MS tech and the other techniques.

Something like:


.Net technologies and languages:

C#, VB.Net, WPF, WCF, ASP.Net. (IIS 7.5?)

Web technologies and languages:

Javascript, HTML and CSS.

I'm familiar with databases.

T-SQL. (Maybe MSQL2k8?)

If the DB stuff is a bit off you could recatagorize the 'web' to 'other' If you catagorize the line with list of skills to fit some kind of structure, like: "languages, API's, markup languages, software stacks", the structure should be apparent to any human reader. The automated resume scanners just look for strings anyways, so I can't imagine that you'd get slammed by those on how you lay them out on the page.

I don't know how to do the formatting on SE, but you could even have two columns, each with a title and list the techs in a comma separated format like I just presented. That way you can save space without sacrificing structure.

  • this is what i do. But i don't have the cute "i'm familiar with databases". I just say "database technologies", "java", "front-end" & so on – bharal May 23 '13 at 15:01
  • What can I say? I like cute :) – Onno May 23 '13 at 15:07
  • Hrrmmm but there's some overlap. For example, ASP.Net and Silverlight (not listed) are both web technologies and .Net technologies. I like the idea of separating them by category though. I'll play around with different ways of arranging them like that and see what I come up with – Rachel May 23 '13 at 15:09
  • That wasn't immediately apparent in the question. I just ran with the example :) – Onno May 23 '13 at 15:11
  • I use this approach too (but without the cute intros) -- group related technologies, and let the misc fall into an "other" line at the end. – Monica Cellio May 23 '13 at 15:39
5

I often receive CVs with long lists of skills, and on further questioning find the applicant has only very basic knowledge of a claimed skill. They say "SQL"; they mean "I once saw a database on TV".

When I see such a list, I normally know at least two or three of the technologies in depth and will ask a couple of pointed technical questions. Are you ready for that level of scrutiny? If you are - fair play; but my experience is that most aren't.

I realise that agents and HR can filter by keywords, so sometimes you have to do this. But for my hiring, you get a lot more credit for only claiming skills you truly have.

  • 7
    Thank you, however this doesn't actually answer the question and may be better as a comment if it can be shortened. That said, I would not list a skill or technology that I am not very comfortable working with :) I realize this often is not the case though. – Rachel Sep 24 '13 at 17:11
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    For a lot of candidates my answer does answer the question - make your list shorter – paj28 Sep 24 '13 at 18:14
3

It all boils down to compact, neat and updated

If you are constructing the resume for a particular job then make sure the ones mentioned in the job requirements are easily found. If the requirements spell out Visual Basic for Applications then say Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), if they say VBA don't spell it out. Many companies use software to search for the key words. Also consider putting the most relevant at the start/top of the list so a human doesn't miss it.

Also if they specify a particular version, e.g 10.X , don't say 8.0+.

This is an easy part to let get stale, so you should review it every time you update the resume, or at least every year to make sure that nothing is skipped or out of date.

2

I'd suggest grouping them by your competency at each, with each group being comma-separated.

This allows you to list technologies you have some experience with, while also highlighting which technologies you're best at.

Of course these wouldn't give that much information in absolute terms (one person may call themselves an "expert" while someone else might call that level of knowledge "basic exposure"), but it does give some information in relative terms - you should at least be better at the language you listed under a higher competency than one you listed under a lower competency.

For example:

Proficient in C#, Javascript, T-SQL

Comfortable with WPF, WCF, VB.Net

Real-world experience in ASP.Net, HTML, CSS

You can change the names of these groups to your preference. Although I would recommend sticking to 3 groups (or even just 2). Any additional group would likely just be noise - a general idea of how well you know which technology is good, trying to convey this exactly is much more prone to error and disagreement.


I might not recommend this approach if you're mixing different categories of technologies - programming languages, databases, operating systems, etc. Those might be best grouped by category instead.

  • This approach makes most sense. One can only truly master few things. – bhathiya-perera May 24 at 13:57
0

I want to add that you need to remember that your CV has two audiences:

  • Recruiters/HR who don't know how the technology is being used, and are possibly just looking for some key buzzwords.
  • Technical leads who do know how the technology is used, and aren't going to be impressed with just a list of buzzwords, or self-assessed x/10 ratings for technologies.

The challenge is - you need to appeal to both people.

The way I solve it, is at the start of my CV I have a section that looks like this:

SKILL SET

Core Skills     Some Exposure

JavaScript      SQL 
Node            ...
React
... 

This is to appeal to the recruiter who just needs to tick some boxes.

Later in my experience section, I write it like this:

Acme Ltd 2005-2007
Software Engineer

I was responsible for creating a frontend with React/Redux,
working from designs from a designer,
and a REST API spec from the backend team.
I also created frontend tests using Jest and Enzyme. 

Technologies used: Javascript, TypeScript, React, Redux,
ImmutableJS,  Jest, Enzyme, Git, Jira. 

The technologies used list is to provide more credibility to the recruiter for the technologies you have used (ie. how recent it is), while the description of the task is to provide credibility to the technical lead (ie. that you're not just listing some technologies), and give them some context for them to ask further questions.

You'll note that I include 'git' and 'jira' in the technology list. This is more for the recruiters sake - as this may be one of the things they are looking for, whereas a technical lead really doesn't need a sentence explaining how you used git and jira, unless you were doing something particularly special with it.

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