While reading this topic about software skills in resume's I remembered a discussion I have been having with myself for quite some time.

In many resumé's, including those I received from prospective new colleagues I often see that the specific skills are rated or been given a note. For instance PHP 9 out of 10.

What method of listing skills is more professional and gives the proper understanding of what you can and cannot do? For instance I think that describing projects and tagging them with skills accordingly is a very good way to interpret experience. Alternatively I like the idea of going into depth about the exact specifics of one abstract skill (cloud hosting for instance) by mentioning more information per skill based on experience.

Without making this question marked for closure due to being too subjective or too wide, the exact question: What added value does rating your skills have in comparison to not rating them?

  • 1
    If you want to add skills and provide some kind of "rating", which is common for highly technical people applying for technical roles, why not use length of overall time spent using that technology stack- This allows the reader to assess your expertise according to their own internal framework- E.g. PHP Development - 7 years, Java - 2.5 years, etc.
    – Marv Mills
    Jun 19, 2015 at 10:50
  • That's a great recommendation.
    – Luceos
    Jun 19, 2015 at 10:51
  • 2
    I generally use this scale : "Fundamentals-Intermediate-Advanced-Expert". Sure it is subjective - so is any scale - but has the advantage to be readable and understandable very quickly. You can even make kind of bar charts in your CV for a more graphical view.
    – Puzzled
    Jun 19, 2015 at 11:13
  • 2
    Years are as bad or worse than any scale because it says nothing about the intensity of the experience. Much better to focus your effort on cogent and succinct descriptions of previous projects. If you communicate what you can do, the prospective employer will put their own "rating" on your skills. Trying to pre-digest that evaluation for them by giving any kind of number merely makes them skeptical..
    – teego1967
    Jun 19, 2015 at 12:14
  • related: programmers.stackexchange.com/a/59480/285 (closed but has answers) Jun 19, 2015 at 12:37

5 Answers 5


Ratings here are relative to the author of each CV; they don't mean anything, and leave themselves to confusion as they aren't clear (they have no definitive definition).

I'm not in HR, but if I were, I would be looking for experience that is written in the form of past projects (what the project was, what the applicant did, their responsibilities) rather than an ambiguous rating system.

What added value does rating your skills have in comparison to not rating them?

Only confusion and ambiguity because there is no definitive definition for each number (ie: why 8/10 and not 7/10?)

  • True. Qualifications would be a good form of evidence too, as they are assessed by an independent party and are externally moderated
    – user27483
    Jun 19, 2015 at 9:14
  • the only exception is the skill signing thing that Linkedin does.
    – Stefto
    Jun 19, 2015 at 9:51
  • Linking to project is fine, but not easily doable in a CV that is supposed to be readable in 2 minutes.
    – Puzzled
    Jun 19, 2015 at 11:11

It probably depends, if I was to hire you and you'd rate yourself a 9/10 in PHP I'd probably go and ask very serious questions about the language, and probably find out that you do in fact not know 90% of the php core. Because knowing it all would require too much information.

Maybe the 9/10 was not what you meant at all but just how well you can find yourself in finding solutions. Do you catch my drift here? It can be confusing and it can actually become something that the interviewer can make your life harder with.

What would be good, is probably to define what experience you've got, 3 years working professionally, hobby, developed a few apps.

Rating is really rubbish unless you define what they actually mean.

Edit: On a personal note, I find it cheesy and makes me think you're still in school labeling your score on your tests which mean nothing really. I always have a douchebaggery feel when I see those kind of portfolio's or resumes. Do note, this is what I feel about it. Might be useful to prove that it can be negative.

  • Hallo Matthijs, well I agree that ratings are very opinionated and your example perfectly this distinction.
    – Luceos
    Jun 19, 2015 at 9:21

I don't put any ranking of my skills on my CV because rankings are subjective. If a company is truly worried about hiring an employee that's an expert, there will be a technical test at some point during the interviewing process. It is on the employer's shoulders to make sure candidates meet their needs. It is on your shoulders to make sure you can sell yourself well enough to land an interview (without overselling).

"Python - Expert" is radically different from "I used Python to automate company scripts that had previously been manually run; in doing so, my team achieved higher productivity because it freed additional time to be used for other projects." (Or something along those lines.) HR has a list of skills to look for in your resume, most of which the developers give them. Typically, technical skills will be gibberish to them; so by elaborating on how you used it, you give them additional information that they otherwise would not have. The longer option tells them that you not only know Python, but had a great idea that saved your company time and money--huge perks to HR. Calling yourself an expert in Python? You better meet their expectation of an expert, or they will doubt everything else on your resume.


I like ratings. If done right, they tell me what I need to know.

There is only three levels that I'm interested in:

  • Beginner: heard of it, tried it, probably not fit to stem a project using it on it's own

  • Intermediate: Can get things done.

  • Expert: The person people go to when they have problems.

I think people can reliably put themselves into those categories. It tells me more than "7 years PHP" because I know tons of people that will never reach expert, no matter how many years they invest and I know people that are experts after a year or two. As with anything on the CV, it's up to me to check if it's real or just "marketing". But that goes for single line on a CV anyway.

  • 1
    The numbers are still relative and ambiguous, though. Why not skip a step (and the confusion) and just put something like "C# - Intermediate". But then again, this is self judgement, which is advised against to put on your CV: c2.com/cgi/wiki?CurriculumVitae
    – hd.
    Jun 19, 2015 at 12:15
  • 1
    @hd There are no numbers in my scheme. It's not self-judgement as mentioned in the link, because you don't judge your own fit with the needs. Saying you are an expert in PHP is somewhat objective, as you don't know if I need one. CVs in Germany are like that quiet often and I like it, it makes up for a lot of guesswork I'd have to do. For example, read this. I can not make anything of it. He could be great. Or a first semester student. I just don't know.
    – nvoigt
    Jun 19, 2015 at 13:08

"What added value does rating your skills have in comparison to not rating them?"

To me,nothing. You could be a legend in your own mind, for all I know. State what you did, and I'll judge for myself whether to phone screen you. Keep it real, tell me that you supervised 600 desktops (*) and I'll throw your resume in the garbage.

(*) The individual created the impression that he had done it all by himself: troubleshooting, mass software upgrades, user support. The CEO insisted that I interviewed him but my team deep sixed him the minute we found that he was full of it. We had something about not wanting to work with liars. Amazing the percentage of resume writers who are willing to include claims that won't survive any kind of digging.

  • A very truthful answer, but brutal. How is supervising 600 desktops not something realistic? I know an IT person who manages several thousand desktops in a public library using microsoft software.
    – Luceos
    Jun 19, 2015 at 8:40
  • @Luceos If just one of those desktops breaks down, then he is got a bit of a problem "managing" the several thousand desktops while troubleshooting that one desktop. He can run some management software to do mass software upgrades but if that the deployment of that software upgrade turns out to be partially successful, how does he fix that situation by himself? Jun 19, 2015 at 12:22

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