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When writing about work experience in a resume, how specific should you get? How much context should you give? For example where I used to work there were multiple undocumented systems and undocumented processes. At least when I asked for documentation so I could learn them I was told there wasn't any. Once I figured things out I created documentation and shared them with my team and/or the people that would be using the systems. Is it enough to say this? Or should I give examples like created documentation on how to setup call forwarding on the IP phones. Another was to document all the steps needed to install software and setup laptops for users in a certain department.

Another example might be "created an Android app using Java that was downloaded 150 times and helped people find deals on fast food in their area". If the job being applied for lists Java as a requirement, should the other details be included (such as what the app actually does)?

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  • A mere 150 downloads on an Android app doesn't really sound like a success to me. 150 thousand downloads would impress me. So you should probably omit that number.
    – Philipp
    Mar 19 at 10:24
  • @Philipp that was just a random example but now that I checked the Android version alone was downloaded 50K times. That's my whole question, are these types of details worth including in the resume? Mar 21 at 4:56

2 Answers 2

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Generally you include anything that is directly relevant to the job, then include anything tangentially relevant. And only if you have very little you flesh it out with irrelevant fluff.

Ideally you want the interviewers to read an uninterrupted spiel singing your praises which is all relevant to what they want.

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  • And remember that you don't have to give every detail, just enough to show the scope of your knowledge and experience. In my first resume out of school I listed all the programming languages I felt fluent in; overkill. Now I'd just say "experienced in a wide variety of programming languages from assembler to XSLT", mention languages when describing interesting/impressive projects. and let them ask if they want to know more.
    – keshlam
    Mar 19 at 3:35
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I generally try to keep it brief and light on details. When writing a resume, keep your audience in mind. What do they want to know and what do I want them to know?

To draw from your examples. Think about your target audience while asking yourself some questions. (Customize the questions as needed.)

  • Creating documentation
    • What am I trying to communicate about myself?
      • That I can communicate technical information in a written format (by writing documents).
    • Does the subject of the documents matter?
      • Probably only the high level ("Documented processes", "Documented user interfaces", etc)
    • Does the intended audience matter?
      • Was the documentation internal, or external? For users, or developers?
  • Created an app
    • What am I trying to communicate about myself?
      • That I can develop with specific tools. (Java and Android APIs)
      • That I can work on a specific type of problem. (Searching for geographically tagged data and/or filtering and sorting search results)
    • Does the subject of the app matter?
      • That it was searching for food probably doesn't matter. If I want to emphasize my ability to search for data and process those results, then the specific type of data might not matter.
    • Does the intended audience matter?
      • Probably. This was an app given to users. It was a product for the general population, not an internal or niche tool.

These bullet points might become something like,

  • "Documented systems and processes to improve on-boarding and productivity."
    • This emphasizes that you are team player and want to make your workplace more efficient.
  • "Developed with Java a successful Android app that finds local deals."
    • "Successful" in this case being defined as "downloaded and used with correct behavior".
    • This identifies the skills you used and gives an idea of the problem space. If they want more specific detail, they can ask about it. (Always be ready to talk about anything on your resume.)

It's really helpful to have a trusted friend or relative proof-read your resume. They might notice things you missed and they might have ideas for how to phrase things more clearly.

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