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I wish to know if putting my attempts at programming in my university CV is a good idea. On the one hand it could show I'm willing and eager to learn, but on the other it could make it appear tacky and a little overqualified. Also, can I say I have experience in X programming language without being fully confident in it?

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5 Answers 5

My advice would be to only put items you'd wish to show a potential employer on your resume. Put a separate section called Personal Projects, and outline one or two of the ones you're most proud of. Bonus points for putting it up somewhere to be viewed and including the link.

Note, only do this if your side projects will better sell you. If they are not anything to write home about, don't put them on your resume. Instead, while in an interview bring up that you learned something while working on one of your personal projects.

I know myself, I always ask people if they have any side projects in the interview. It gives them a chance to talk about something they know, and gives me something ask questions about to see if they understand what they are talking about.

As for the second part of your question, I personally break my programming knowledge into two categories: Familiar With and Experience With. The first says I've seen this language/technology before and could modify, or change something with it. Experience With I define as I could do something from scratch with that language/technology. It's my way of being honest with potential employers, without overstating my qualifications.

Don't know if I'd recommend that coming right out of university though. Again, only put things on your resume that you know and would be able to talk about if asked in an interview. I hate asking candidates about their experience with X only for them to say 'ya, I did an online tutorial on that on the weekend....' (actual answer I've received).

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+1 for only put things on your resume that you know and would be able to talk about if asked in an interview. –  Matthew Flynn Feb 13 '12 at 22:48
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Depends how many programming jobs you have had. If you have a significant amount of relevent experience then that should be the primary focus. University projects aren't worth more than a brief mention.

If your don't have much work experience then you should put your university projects on there. Go into reasonable practical detail, your CV should be at least 50% actual experience and detailing what you did, why and what you learned.

Also, can I say I have experience in X programming language without being fully confident in it?

Yes assuming you can back that statement up with a practical project with description that will demonstrate some ability. It doesn't have to be big but you do have to have done something*

* I had one applicant who put lots of stuff about TTD and unit testing on her CV. When I quizzed her about the details it turned out she had just googled it while writing the CV :)

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It depends on what exactly your "attempts" to program are. Self-taught yourself a language or two, produced a usable project for one reason or another? I'd consider putting it on. The important question is did you do things, or did you just work your way through a book or online tutorial?

The former is something worth talking about, the latter really isn't, as its just a stepping stone towards doing something worth mentioning.

In terms of saying you have experience in X programming language when you're not fully confident in it, again, it depends on what you mean. Fully confident like "I couldn't have an off-the-cuff conversation with the designer of the language about it", or "There are massive gaps in what I know - I still don't really understand some major concepts in the language?"

Again, you can probably get away with the former, but don't claim the latter. One thing I have seen done is dividing up the languages you know into "Fluent" and "Conversational". Just like actual languages, this suggests that there are some languages you know well and comfortably, and some where, despite knowing the grammar and syntax, you may have to turn to a dictionary every once in awhile to look up a word.

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What's a "university CV"? Are you applying to go to a university, or are you at a university now looking for a job after graduation? I am assuming it is the latter, because self-taught programming experience hardly matters for getting into a school.

I think if you do not have work experience, or you do not have enough of it, it is ok to put personal projects on the CV. But you should make sure it something substantial, that you would not be embarrassed to talk about. You should also list relevant courses and course projects or independent studies that you did.

As far as listing programming languages, I think you should list anything that you have ever programmed in, in the order from most fluent to least fluent. This is a way to get past the HR screeners. Then, if you get a technical interview, you can elaborate one how much experience you have had in the languages that are relevant to the particular job.

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You can already get afraid of getting into postgraduate tar pit if being too specialized by your CV.

As long as you gpt your first job, having only a single skill asset confirmed in your CV, you're probably going down to sit on that job and hopefully quit it - with a same asset confirmed.

So at your next job, you'll be qualified by same assets and.. good if your specialty allows to become senior/architect. There's only possible path to break - by getting occasionally switched to another task and gaining some new experience.

Unless that you may find yourself in a position like 'junior electronics engineer' working for years at a small companies, or 'intermediate Java programmer' who occasionally got lost his job.

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