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I have been reviewing several resumes we have for a new position. I noticed that a few of them had many old programming language versions and old applications on their resume (e.g. SQL 4.2, VB5, Lotus 123, Novell). This left their list of computer experience very long. Do you keep it fresh? Do you show your depth of experience even though you will never use that techology again?

When should you drop old technology on your resume? By keeping old technology on your resume does that do any harm in getting hired?

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Everything old is new again when it comes to legacy systems... //end creepy voice –  Izkata Oct 20 '11 at 18:01
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Maybe this boils down to the difference between a resume and a CV. A CV can be an extensive history of all accomplishments including from the days of yore. A resume should be a succinct brochure of what you can do for me now. –  Doug T. Oct 20 '11 at 19:34
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Heh, I used to leave things on for "nostalgia value" -- until I got a call a month ago that started with "I see you have VAX MACRO-32 and DEC FORTRAN experience, would you be interested in..." –  TMN Oct 20 '11 at 19:34
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I drop stuff when people on the internet start making fun of me for having that on my resume. –  kubi Oct 20 '11 at 21:15
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When you don't want to use it anymore –  Daniel Little Oct 20 '11 at 23:15

15 Answers 15

up vote 77 down vote accepted

I drop old technologies from the "technologies" section of my resume when I am no longer interested in working with them, or when they aren't being used anymore. I don't think long lists of technologies do anyone any favors.

I think technical depth is best illustrated through your work experience, where you can mention older technologies if you like.

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YEs, If you don't want to get asked to support that old vb application that no one else knows but it critical to the organization, don't put VB on your resume! –  HLGEM Oct 20 '11 at 17:14
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I do not put VB, COBOL, or Cold Fusion on my resume despite the fact that I have had significant experience with all 3. I have no desire to work in an environment where these are prevalent. And yes I have turned down positions because they were a VB shop and because they wanted me to work on "Some" COBOL. –  Chad Oct 20 '11 at 19:51
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You are most productive when producing code in a language you like... –  Mantorok Oct 21 '11 at 10:14

For a job-specific CV: If you really want the job (and you should, if you're applying for it, unless you're the kind of developer who just applies for anything) then you should pare down the experience and skills to those that are directly relevant to the position. Old technologies may belong on there if they are relevant.

For a more general CV: If it's the kind of CV that runs over two pages and covers your entire career, there's no reason to take anything off that you're proud of.

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I only list out what I've been using for last about two or three years in my resume. For example, I was a crazy C++/MFC programmer ten years ago but I almost don't use it since then so does it still make sense in my skill list? It definitely not. Of course, old technologies are still in the list of projects/applications you did in the past.

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On the specific issue of harm, remember that a person reviewing a resume may only have 15-20 seconds to review your resume before deciding whether to toss it in the “No” pile or the “Maybe” pile.

If you make the “Maybe” pile, then your resume will get a longer more detailed read—perhaps a full minute. From here, your resume will again be sorted into either the “No” pile or the “Maybe” pile.

If you make this second “Maybe” pile, then you will likely be called for an interview.

If you have something on your resume that is deemed old, it probably depends upon where it is on your resume.

If the old technology is listed say at the top of your resume, in a bulleted list of keywords, then it could be extra “fluff” reading that increases your chances of going into the “No” pile.

If the old technology is listed in the chronological portion of your resume, back when you worked for WidgetMaster Inc. in the mid 1990s, then it could actually be helpful since it shows the technology you were using in that position. Consistent use of technology keywords under each employer can show a progression of skills.

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The simplest approach is to drop technologies off the resume when you are not expecting the reader to be interested in them.

Another way to look at this is "maybe I should drop it off, if I cannot say anything meaningful about the tech because it has been so long."

Less is more...Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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I maintain both a curriculum vitæ and a résumé.

In the curriculum vitæ I put everything I worked on and with, including technologies I used 15 years ago, along with all publications and personal projects. I have no obvious reason to remove any experience from the curriculum vitæ. It is several pages long.

On the résumé however, I only put the most recent and/or relevant technologies; most of the time my résumé is adapted to the position I am applying for. In most situations my résumé fits on a single page. Cherry-picking technologies, skills and emphasised past positions allows me to use a different résumé for a management position or a technical position.

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Hmmm - I thought CV was English (OK, Latin) for résumé. –  Steve314 Oct 21 '11 at 2:36

When that technology experience is not geared for the job description. Remember, Resumes are to be customized for the specific position you're aiming at.

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Some of the more impressive CVs I've read mention hardly any specific technologies, unless they're an integral part of explaining the work done on a particular project.

I personally drop the older ones as soon as they're embarrassing to me.

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I just ask myself the question: Do I want to do this in my next job?

If no then I just remove the line. Extreme I know.

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Murphy's Law as it applies to job seekers: You'll be asked to do the thing on your resume that you enjoy least. –  Caleb Oct 20 '11 at 18:04
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Yes, I intentionally leave off InstallShield experience, and vehemently deny that I have any. –  kylben Oct 20 '11 at 18:48

If your goal is just to land a job, any job, then put everything you know on your resume.

If your goal is to land a job that you'll enjoy, leave out the stuff that gives you migraine headaches or that you otherwise think could be a liability in how you position yourself.

Don't leave skills out just because they relate to older technology.

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Unless you're pressed for space or simply want nothing to do with the technology in question, there's no particular reason to remove them. If you send in a resume and it just so happens they're trying to replace an old app written in Clipper with something new, having Clipper on your resume isnt going to hurt.

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It hardly seems fair to expect me to remember something you mention in the first line by the time I'm done reading the third line, does it? ;-) –  Caleb Oct 20 '11 at 18:16
    
LOL, my writing does have that effect on people! –  GrandmasterB Oct 20 '11 at 18:19

Whenever your writing a resume there is one question you should be asking yourself.

Does this really, truly add value to my resume?

If it does not add value to your resume then it is adding clutter. A resume should be quick and concise. If you feel the technology helps demonstrate depth or breadth of experience keep it.

Always ask yourself, if you're reviewing a stack of 200 resumes for that position do you really want to see the technology(ies) on there? If you don't care, your potential employer won't care.

It may not necessarily harm your resume but it could potentially obfuscate what is truly important or the added length (in some situations) could send it straight to the shredder.

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I would list anything I have a significant skill in. Showing breadth of knoledge is good and it only takes up one line.

Obviously ommit anything you dont have significant skill in (ie I debugged some VB a few years ago)

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I have a few rules for when I make cuts and edits to my resume:

  1. The resume is one page long.
  2. The resume contains relevant technologies to the position applied.
  3. The resume contains relevant job history to the position applied.

While it may seem nice to have everything from technology and job history, resumes should be easy to read and skim for whoever is reading it. And it needs to contain vocabulary relevant to the position. Thus is needs to be concise and relevant.

So yes, for example, I dropped an old technology such as QBasic because it's not something I would do anymore, and because it's basically replaced with VB.net, which is more relevant today.

The only situation where cuts and edits may not be possible, is if the candidate has little experience and job history. The candidate would need everything to help make the resume one page long.

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+1 for one page and one page only. –  jim Oct 20 '11 at 20:47
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How do you keep it to one page? Once I have filled out my contact details thats about 1/4 of a page then work experience thats the first page done then the next page is Job Responsibilities then i do technologies –  MattyD Oct 20 '11 at 22:03
    
There are definitely exceptions to the "one-page only" suggestion, which again is only a suggestion. But from my understanding, resumes are about getting your foot in the door-- so it's not supposed to be your career in full. A cover letter and resume is two pages already. More info at: The One-Page Resume vs. the Two-Page Resume –  spong Oct 20 '11 at 22:48
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This is a cultural thing - in England you are expected to keep it short (one page or at most two) even for a CV. In Australia there was a tradition of including everything in CVs and although that's receding you still end up with 8+ pages. A resume is supposed to be a 1-2 page summary. Resume != CV HR people get upset if you don't know the difference. –  mcottle Oct 21 '11 at 2:00
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@mcottle, I once got handed a 22 page CV from an Austalian woman, and up until now, I had always assumed she was just insane. –  John N Oct 21 '11 at 8:59

I would remove them from the resume if they are not relevant to the job you're applying for, or if they take up room and don't add anything.

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+1 too few people realize that if they just took a bit of time to tailor their resume for the position they are applying for that it would be received better. It is not lying. If I am looking for a .net developer I Do not care about your skills in coldfusion, flash, or php. Including them makes me wonder if you are really a .net developer or a web developer looking for any job you can find. –  Chad Oct 20 '11 at 19:55
    
@Chad they're probably randomly applying to a bunch of companies, that's why they don't tailor. Which I feel it's ok, and then there's more. People who tailor too much are trying to predict your tastes without knowing you. Then they will try to anticipate your orders without knowing them. Dangerous people, those that pretend they can foretell the unknown. –  ZJR Oct 21 '11 at 1:08
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@ZJR - I Tailor my resume to emphasize those skills that are listed in the requirements/desired abilities for the job post. I do my best to put forward skills that are tangents to those that i do not possess directly. And I simple do not include skills that are irrelevant to the position. The resume is really best to get you into the door. For instance if I am applying for a position in .net development in a ms shop but a prior position was java I will point out my basic development skills while omitting the java specific knowledge. –  Chad Oct 21 '11 at 14:16

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