August 28, 2012

“C, C++, JAVA, and I opened an HTML file once...”

by Brian Skory

I’ve noticed a tendency in some resume writing wherein if a candidate has even so much as glimpsed a technology out of the corner of an eye, he or she is putting it down on the resume. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have seen a lot of the technology stack included on a resume even if the candidate never used it.

The potential downfall of listing “everything and the kitchen sink” risks leading the hiring manager into believing that a candidate actually has experience in some of those areas when, in fact, the candidate does not. When this eventually comes to light, time spent considering that candidate will likely be viewed as time wasted.

How should skills be listed on a resume? To answer that question, let’s look at two different ways of noting skills.

SKILLS

C++, C#, Java, Swing, SAP, and everything else I’ve had some degree (great or small) of exposure to.

From a hiring manager’s perspective, they will see a long list of skills, but depending upon how much detail is in the body of the resume, the candidate’s degree of experience and expertise may be unknown.

Probably the more useful and desirable format for giving a clear picture of one’s skills and experience is a skills matrix in the following fashion:

SKILLS

TECHNOLOGY SKILL LEVEL YEARS USED LAST USED
C++ Expert 12 2011
C# Beginner 1 2011
Java Swing Intermediate 2 2001
SAP Intermediate 3 2001

Although “Skill Level” is obviously self-assessed, the person reading the resume has a far more accurate picture of the candidate’s experience and skill levels with regard to a particular technology, including how recent that experience is.

When it comes to a pile of resumes being considered, which do you think is more likely to get the phone call? The one that is vague and voluminous in its listing of skills, or the one which clearly portrays one’s background? Give this a try and see if it doesn’t give your resume more traction.

As always, we at Stout Systems are interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to drop us an email at candidates@stoutsystems.com.

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