I'm wondering if I should use acronyms or initialisms when I list technical qualifications or mention specific technologies on my résumé or CV.

For example:

  • Entity Framework vs. EF vs. EF (Entity Framework)
  • Graphical User Interface vs. GUI vs. GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Is there a reason to prefer one version over another? Is it better to be as clear as possible, companies view not using the correct acronym a sign of lack of knowledge about the subject?

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    Explaining GUI to an IT recruiter looks quite dumb. EF instead, is kinda hard to infer, out of context. Can't you really figure where the zeitgeist's at? – ZJR Jan 9 '12 at 7:48
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    You probably shouldn't expand, GNU / Gygnus / KDE / PHP experience fully though – Martin Beckett Jan 9 '12 at 13:49
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    certainly don't expand BF ;) – jk. Jan 9 '12 at 22:57

CV (Resume) searches today are performed exclusively by searching for keywords. So, the general rule of thumb is to never miss an opportunity to include in your CV any terms, keywords, buzzwords, etc which stand for technologies that you are familiar with, (and that you care to be hired to work on,) and to list them in all possible long forms, short forms, synonyms, abbreviations, etc.

The good news is that each one of those forms only needs to appear once, and it needs to appear somewhere in your CV, but not necessarily in any prominent place. So, in the prominent places you should use the most appropriate terms (GUI, not Graphical User Interface, but Entity Framework, not EF,) and then hidden within the details you should expound on the jargon.

By the way, when you feel you need to use both the long form and the abbreviation of a technology, the convention that a teacher of English would recommend is first the spelled out version, followed by the abbreviation inside parentheses. From that moment on, the teacher of English would recommend, you can continue using the abbreviation.

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I've spelt out acronyms such as Model-View-Controller in resumes before, just in case any non-savvy recruiter doesn't know what it means, and I think Entity Framework would fall into the same category.

I'd hope any IT person would know what GUI stands for, though.

It really depends on the term, I guess.

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  • Thanks Karpie... I was thinking to add the extended version even for GUI and similar, so that even a non IT non-savvy guy at the job agency could understand what I'm doing. My only concern is that the CB could result a bit redundant. – GibboK Jan 9 '12 at 8:48

In general, you should always use the full technology name, and put the acronyms in parenthesis, such as Entity Framework (EF), User Experience Design (UX Design), etc., to CV and resumes, because it's much easier to read and search it.

However, there are some technologies or terms that everybody use their acronyms and not their full names such as: SQL, RAM, CPU etc. In this case, writing something like "fixing Random Access Memory chips" is something that will not provide anything except confusion.

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I keep two copies of my resume. One with the 'flashy' non technical skill sheet geared towards HR personnel. I make sure the Resume is tailored to the job I am applying for. For this, I would spell out the acronyms. The second resume is chock full of acronyms and technical terms that are more suited for a technical hiring person. In all the cases throughout my career, I have found that the initial resume that gets me through the initial screening process becomes useless at interview time. This is where I hand the interviewer the technical copy, usually along with a statement of "I took the liberty of elaborating on some of the finer points of my resume, and here is a copy."

Although I do not know what has gone on behind closed doors, I have had extraordinary luck with landing jobs. Even in cases where I was overlooked for a job, I was called back and asked to interview for 3 or 4 different positions, because they were impressed with my all around approach.

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  • unrelated, but grrrrrr@gravatar. Hard to take me serious with the trollface as my gravatar. – DaBaer Jan 9 '12 at 18:14

Your Resume should always (if possible) be tailored to the person who will be reading it. If you write a resume for a job hunting site where you want it to be found in keyword searches and picked up by HR people ticking off items in a list with no understanding of their meaning, by all means list everything in short and long form.

But if you're submitting a resume for a specific job profile, leave out irrelevant details (like "knowledge of HTML, CSS and XML" when the job description asked for experience working with JSF and you have that) and instead give a little information about how you get experience in the key technologies for that job. Huge lists of technologies are not really good for convincing people that you are a skilled professional.

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  • I specially agree with "Huge lists of technologies are not really good for convincing people that you are a skilled professional". Thanks Michael! – GibboK Jan 9 '12 at 15:57

I'd normally ignore the risk that a non IT person doesn't understand my resume on the dual grounds that hopefully said non-IT person will either have a list of desirable acronyms or at least just accept that you aren't making them up and because (more importantly) I don't want to look daft when my resume eventually gets to an IT person.

Some broad common sense rules (emphasis on broad):

Can I expect any technical person to of come across the term regardless of platforms used in the past? If so, use GUI not Graphical User Interface.

Can I expect any technical person to either infer what the technology might be based on the context? More importantly, do I use the abbreviation over the full name in real life? If so use WPF not Windows Presentation Foundation.

For everything else, use Entity Framework.

I think, if you still aren't sure, the important thing is what you use in speech - if someone doesn't know what SQL is, I don't think Structured Query Language is going to help them. Flip side, I never call the Entity Framework "EF" in real speech, so its unfair to expect someone to know what I mean even if they do know what the framework is.

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    I only call it "EF" in real speech when used as "what the EF is happening?!" :+ – MSalters Jan 9 '12 at 12:42
  • Above comment was seriously funny. – Priyadarshi Kunal Jan 9 '12 at 13:09
  • I agree with Expressions ! – GibboK Jan 9 '12 at 15:56

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