After completing my bachelors, I took a job as a mainframes (COBOL) developer in a company, as I was in need of a job. I have been in the company for about two years now, and am looking for better options as I don't think mainframes would have the best future for me. I learned web development by myself, and I think I know enough for a junior developer.

Now, when applying for positions, I'm not sure how to describe my current work. I only worked with COBOL, and I feel possible employers may find my previous role being in a (rather) old language a negative. But I also don't want to show zero years of work experience, as I feel I have definitely grown as a developer, regardless of language.

  • How(if at all) do I mention this language in the resume?
  • How do I discuss the current job details in an interview?

Currently, I don't mention the language I used in the resume, focusing on the responsibilities, etc. instead. I list the languages I know and am interested in separately.

  • Do not lie on your resume. In most cases if you lie that will give the company grounds to let you go if they find out, and the field you are in is smaller then you might realize
    – Donald
    Aug 20, 2017 at 18:26
  • I suppose you want to apply to web related jobs, then you should try to focus on your experience on the subject. You say you coud be Junior dev, so you should have some projects to back your may be asked when interviewed.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 20, 2017 at 18:32
  • Ill remove the last part (friends suggestion) as I myself did not like it too much.
    – vivek
    Aug 20, 2017 at 18:58

3 Answers 3


How(if at all) do I mention the language I have professional experience in, in the resume? How do I discuss the job details in an interview?

I think you have answered this yourself when you said:

Currently, I dont mention the language I used in the resume, focusing on the responsibilities, etc. instead. I list the languages I know and am interested in separately.

That's exactly right. Mentioning about the projects which you successfully completed and responsibilities held is far more important than mentioning a tool. [Good/experienced software engineers tend to pick up and learn new tools/languages related to their domain, very easily too].

During an interview, a friend suggested that I fake the amount of COBOL vs other stuff used

Please don't. Good and experienced interviewers can always see through fakes, and they can do it within the first few minutes of the interview too.

So, please do talk about projects and responsibilities on your resume, instead of mentioning just the expertize with the tool. You can always include a bullet point which says Languages/Tools used: COBOL, <>, <>, .., but that is completely optional.


As someone who currently works in COBOL I can tell you that it is everywhere (you probably knew that already).

What you need to do is show the next employer the positives about your experience and not the negative. You can use your time in mainframe land as a positive. NO ONE teaches this stuff anymore. This shows a potential employer that you are able to learn and could show that you are a self starter.

Take the discussion in that direction. Don't lie to them about what you did or didn't do. Show them that what you did do is valuable to them. In this case, its not about learning COBOL itself. It's about overcoming a challenge with little to no help and learning it well enough to perform your job duties. Come equipped with some form of portfolio showing them your web skills and be ready to talk about the challenges you faced learning COBOL. I think most developers will tell you that it doesn't really matter a whole lot which languages you studied or worked in. A good programmer can pick up any language. What makes a good programmer is their methodology for problem solving.

In conclusion: make a portfolio, show them your strengths and use COBOL to your advantage.

  • Also add discuss your ability to troubleshoot complex applications (most COBOL applications are complex) and understand years of business rules and lack of documentation if applicable. You have lots of skills that are useful when using another language.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 22, 2017 at 15:30

In your resume concentrate on your accomplishments in the job not the language the application was written in. Talk about the complex financial report you created or the difficult troubleshooting problem, etc. Be clear on the business domain you have been working in and how your work impacts that. Talk about things like performance tuning if you did it.

List Cobol in your skills, but put it last. Be prepared to answer technical questions about all the technologies you list. Come with examples of the personal projects for Web development you have created and it helps if you have Git portfolio. You can even put a personal projects section in your resume if you have room.

Discuss that you want to transition to web programming as the reason why you are changing jobs in your interview or cover letter.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .