My current resume has a skill matrix, where I try to give a relative indication of how skilled I feel in the .NET stack.

In my current matrix, when indicating how much experience I have with a certain language or software, with some, I included experience from college as an indication of how long I've been working with that tech or software. For example, I say I have 3 years of experience with Visual Studio, with which I mean "1.5 years as actual work experience in a company, and 1.5 years of experience from my school assignments and tests". Should I include college experience in my skill matrix?

On a related note, my current skill matrix gives an indication of my skill from 1 to 5, with 5 being the product that I judge myself to be best at and the other languages and technologies being relative to that point. Is this how skill matrixes usually are made?

3 Answers 3


My current resume has a skill matrix, where I try to give a relative indication of how skilled I feel in the .NET stack.

Should I include college experience in my skill matrix?

If your skill matrix indicates "how skilled you feel" then it doesn't matter at all how you acquired the skills.

Include all of your skills, those you acquired on the job, those you acquired in college, and those you acquired anywhere else.

  • What I do on my CV is to state that my skills are self assessed using a 1 - 10 scale. That way it can be subjective but still give an indication of where your skill levels lie.
    – Jane S
    Jun 7, 2015 at 23:41
  • @JaneS: Adding "self assessed" seems superfluous.
    – NotMe
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:04
  • @NotMe It was actually recommended to me by an HR person a number of years ago. He said that you should be specific about any figures you include.
    – Jane S
    Jun 8, 2015 at 21:43

Using a language in school confers at least a modest benefit, so early on in your career it can definitely be useful to mention it in your resume. You should call out that it is collegiate experience so your skills are ranked appropriately (this is to your advantage as well)

As an example, for me I have 4 years Java experience in the work place, and I used Java for 5 years in college, so I specify "4 years Java experience (plus 5 years collegiate)". I am interested in taking C# positions, so my resume also includes a line about "1 year collegiate C# experience". As with my Java experience, I back up my collegiate experience by mentioning specific classes and notable programs I contributed to with those languages.

For skill matrices - it is kind of a mixed bag. Even just browsing through the first few hits on Google shows a wide variety of opinions on them (and what they should look like). If you feel that is the best way to express what you know, that sounds right. I have always used a section titled Functional Areas of Expertise along with listings of the languages, operating systems, and similar (usually tailored to the job) that I want to discuss and how long I used them (I only put ones I want to use, for instance I recently decided to stop using C/C++ for personal reasons so I removed that from my resume). In my experience, companies care about your years of experience, so explicitly calling this out can help.


From the employers perspective, it doesn't matter to me if candidate A ranks their languages. I'm comparing does candidate A know language X as well as candidate B knows language X.

If you are applying for an entry/university level position, it is helpful to see your exposure to the language in school.

If you are more than 2 years out of college, then it's not relevant. People that put 10 years of Java experience because they have been programming since middle school is NOT equivalent to someone who has been working with that language in industry for 10 years. Your goal should be to set the appropriate expectations given your skill level, not to try to inflate the number.

As an employer, I would rather take someone more junior who can accurately assess themselves than someone whose resume numbers don't match their level because either 1) they are lying or 2) their calibration is completely off for how good they are or 3) they have a lot of years but never progressed.

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