C was the primary language used at my university. We did all sorts of things in C, including socket, systems, and OS programming. At the point of graduation, I would have considered myself rather proficient in C.

A little over a year later, I find myself maintaining my resume. During this year, I have not even looked at C code, thus, I'm rather positive my skills have withered. Given some time, I'm sure I can regain most of my abilities, but for the time being, how would one represent an "out of practice" skill on a resume?

Formerly proficient in C doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

  • Same happens to be true for me in C++. After being a programmer using another language for some years after university, I no longer think I was ever really proficient in C++. The more I work, the more I think true proficiency is having to apply it.
    – Neil
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 8:14

4 Answers 4


I don't even see what the problem is: if your resume is complete, it'll show that you worked with X over the past year, not with C. At the same time it shows that you worked with C some years ago.

The problem you are thinking of is in fact of the opposite kind: what if you worked on a Java-job for the last two years, but you did a lot of C programming in your spare-time, on open-source projects, etc. ? Only then do you have to worry about how to show that in your resume, because in all other cases a reader can only assume what's written there - namely that you last programmed in C in your earlier job one or more years ago.

You do not even have to state that you are no longer proficient. You do have experience with C from some time ago, so you just write that. It's honest, it's clear, yet you do not have to place yourself in a bad situation by stating that you don't know it anymore. If you are asked during the interview, you can keep a straight face and tell them the simple truth: "As I wrote in my resume, the last time I did some C programming was x years ago, so of course I will need a little bit of time to get up to speed again".

In summary: If you have used the skill recently, then, and only then, should you state that in the resume. In all other cases you simple state that you used that skill at whatever time/job and leave it at that. You should not focus on it (for it is long ago and you do lack proficiency), nor do you have any reason to defend anything in that case. Just leave it as is. If your prospective employer is interested in that skill he will get exactly what he needs from your resume.

  • 1
    Tweak to your summary: "...then, and only then, should you state that in a skills section on the resume". You should list relevant langauges/technologies with each job, but if you've got a list up at the top, that should be the stuff you're ready to do today. Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:56

I have never seen a resume where a candidate listed any of the skills as "out of practice". From my limited knowledge, I dont think thats a yard stick used anywhere. Most technical interviewers go by the timeline of projects on your resume and its perfectly acceptable in an interview to say "Its been a while I since I used that language so my answers may seem a bit rusty". Obviously, if you are applying to a job which involves C, you would want to be better prepared with your knowledge in C.

If in your resume you have a technical summary section, then you can simply list C as one of the programming languages in your repertoire. And if your resume lists project details and environments, mention C where ever you have used C.


I would strongly recommend that you instead separate things you only used at school from things you have used at work.

The reason is simple. Production ready code running at customers is vastly different from code good enough for school, and the mindset needed for writing robust code is not something that can be easily taught - you essentially need to experience it yourself to understand what to look for and how to handle it.

To answer your actual question, I would put a "Used C on a proficient level from 2009-2010".


I had something like that with Delphi/Pascal. After not having used it for over 10 years, actually not in a programming job at all, I managed to get a job where I now use it daily.

The knowledge is there, if you need it, you just need to activate it and that won't take long. You will not have to relearn the language. So, Yes, you're still proficient at C, it just may be a bit rusty. And if applicable to you job you should mention it on your CV.

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