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At which point do you “know” a technology enough to list it on a resume

I'm having trouble selecting exactly what to put in the computer skills section of my resume. I feel the need to list a lot of languages and the IDEs I work with, and perhaps mention that I use Mercurial too. But this seems, well, kinda fake; after all, where do I draw the line in the list of languages? Sure, I learned a little C in a class, I can conquer some simple printf and getchar projects, but I don't really think that counts as being able to list it on my resume.

I seem to recall Joel or Jeff addressing this but I can't find it now. But I'm pretty sure they said something along the lines of don't put it on your resume if you don't want to be drilled on it.

Well, I sure wouldn't want to be drilled on C... But is there no justification in my listing languages like C# that I don't work with daily but could pick back up after a short refresher? I mean, I wouldn't want to be drilled on the internals of .NET either, but I think I am justified in listing it in a list of languages I have used...

How do you decide? What do you have in your 'Computer Skills' section of your resume? (and can you please find the Joel/Jeff posts I'm thinking of, if they exist?)


8 Answers 8


As little as possible, and only those relevant to the position I'm applying for.

As someone who reads resumes on occasion, nothing is more annoying than going through a list of every single computer related piece of equipment, software, and skill the applicant has ever touched, read about, or has actual experience with.

You applying for a job writing code? Why the $*@( are you telling me you have experience with Outlook? Seriously?

Only include the skills relevant to the position you are applying for on your resume.

You are retooling your resume for each position you are applying for, aren't you?

Aren't you?


As a technical person, I don't feel that you should have such a section that just enumerates skills, except in rare cases. Any technologies, languages, frameworks, and tools that you are familiar with should be listed as part of your education, work experience, or in a personal projects section. The only time you should have a section that uses keywords to describe skills is when applying for government (state or federal) jobs, and maybe jobs with government contractors.

I think the idea is that if you haven't worked with a technology on a project, you probably don't know it. If you have worked with a technology on a previous or ongoing project, you either know it or can relearn it. I would be more interested in what you have done rather than what you say you know - I can get at what you know by asking about your projects and solutions to problems.


I've spent a lot of time reading resumes over the last year. A list of specific skills is a useful summary, but should be backed up through descriptions of how those skills were used in development projects. It is nice to be able to easily answer Does candidate X know Y? when creating a short-list. When evaluating this short list, y I want to dig deeper: Candidate X used Y for this project.

On my own resume, I have a list of what I feel are my strongest, most marketable skills, my expertise in those skills (expert, strong, etc.) and a brief statement supporting my claimed knowledge (C++, expert, used templates in anger).


You cannot be good at everything you've ever used. So just list the core things you are interested in and more importantly the things that you want to continue working in and also things you are good at.

Remove technologies in which you have no interest.

If someone showed me a list with 30 things on it, I'd know they were bending the truth.

Plus, imagine you have 2 CVs/resumes in front of you, and you need someone with skill X. CV one has 29 other technologies and skill X on it. CV two has X and 2 other technologies on it.

I know who I'd sooner hire for the role.

By doing this you will exclude yourself from some roles but will be a front runner for others, especially if you back up your 'reduced but more focused' skillset with examples in your employment history.

  • Spot on. All too often I get 'shopping list' CVs where candidates list skills that they can't even answer basic questions on. By all means add peripheral skills/interests to the bottom of your CV as a sort of 'extra information' section, but don't let them crowd out the skills you feel are the most important. 30 skills with equal prominence means you will be, at best, poor at 30 things.
    – FinnNk
    Commented Oct 24, 2010 at 18:58

TAG CLOUD your technical skills

  • 8
    I'd probably throw it out.
    – Incognito
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 15:08
  • No, think this is a bad idea. What is a large word supposed to mean: how long you've worked with it, how recently you've worked with it, how proficient you are with something, etc Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 15:22
  • 3
    ha. I feel this would be interesting. Sometimes it's a good idea to make your resume stand out somehow.
    – WalterJ89
    Commented Sep 20, 2010 at 13:19

What many people seem to be missing is the myriad, and ubiquity, of automated resume filterers/scanners/databases.

Any technology that you're proficient in, or want to work more with, should be on there. If it's not, then it just may happen that no-one will ever see your resume at all. So as much as it may be noise, it's necessary these days.

Some recruiters will even suggest placing it at the end of your resume, and calling it a 'buzzwords' section, or 'detailed skills list'. A good book that goes into more detail especially about this is: Land the Tech Job You Love.

  • If you tell me you have a skill of something you want to work in but have no experience in, I guarantee you won't get past the intervview when I ask you what you did using that technology and you will never be considered for any other position at my company again as that is called lying! A resume is a description of what you have done and if you put anything in it that is suspect, you will be eliminated.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 19:40
  • @HLGEM: Maybe I should have bolded "... work MORE" with. I did not, and would never, propose putting anything on a resume that is not true. Your work history will show what you're most proficient in, but any amount of experience with a technology I'd suggest putting it in your list of skills... unless of course you want to work in the same tech stack for the rest of your life. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 6:21
  • please make some little edit because it won't let me remove my down vote now that you have clarified because it's been more than 24 hours since I made it (wierd rule).
    – HLGEM
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 17:27
  • 2
    I do agree that somethings that you are less familiar with can go on the resume as long as you have actually used them and can talk reasonably knowldgeably about them in an interview. I usually break my list into Expert and Familiar With. And you should eliminate anything from the list you no longer want to work with either - Access is no longer on my resume!
    – HLGEM
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 17:29
  • @HLGEM: +1 Amen to that. Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 19:44

The best place for technical skills would be at the end of project descriptions. This gives honest context to the project and the type of skills you gained/exercised, as well as how stale the knowledge may be. They are useful after real work experience descriptions as well as school projects.

Note that the technical skills section of a resume seems to be a requirement for recruiters more than hiring managers. It is an easy way for someone to see if you tick all the boxes for a job spec. If you feel that you need one, you can take it from the list of skills on each project.


If my neighbour can safely assume that I can remove a virus from his computer because I am a programmer I think it's safe to assume that an employer or HR monkey will be able to tell that I can work a computer.

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