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While this question might be relevant to other fields, I'm interested specifically in searching for jobs as a developer. Namely, when you are searching for an applying for a new job you might look for listings that are for C# or Java developers; however, most jobs aren't just writing one language so how do you determine which skills are worth highlighting on a résumé or more likely on a targeted cover letter?

Likewise, are there some skills that aren't worth mentioning because it is implied that most developers should know it (i.e. XML) or is it better to list everything?

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3 Answers

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I think you can safely omit XML since it has become so ubiquitous you can see it everywhere from configuration files up to the new Word document format. Very hard to get by without getting involved in it in one way or another.

More to your question. After you've been in a field for a while you just know what technologies do come together to form an entire stack or ecosystem. You also know which ones form the basic foundation, which are for advanced classes and which are really cool.

If we take an example of a C# developer:

BASIC: C# goodies, .NET class library, ASP.NET WebForms, Visual Studio, SQL Server

ADVANCED: ASP.NET MVC, jQuery, Entity Framework, nUnit, TFS

TOP: Resharper, nHibernate, IoC, integration testing, application and database performance tuning etc.

Depending on a position and its specific requirements, you omit the obvious which is implied and put the stuff above the defined niveau to distinguish yourself from the others.

Basically it's about understanding the abstraction level of your imaginary opponent and adjusting to it. If an opening speaks about ORM tools, testing and integration, your mentioning of XML would seem like a strange joke.

Listing everything is probably a bad strategy since it could trigger a thought this guy is clueless about priorities or desperate to get any job.

I find it also useful to mention the years I dealt with one or the other technologies. For instance I clearly indicate when I stopped using C++ and moved to applied development so that the folks though can see my background in it but avoid extensive questioning on it.

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If it's an online resume, you could show only the important skills by default (e.g. the edge that you have over the other candidates), with a "view more..." link that shows the rest: that way on win on boths sides: it's fast to scan the document yet an exhaustive lsit is available if needed.

You may find some more tips here as well as some inspiration there.


If on the other hand it's a printed CV, I'm sure others will be able to answer better.

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If it's a skill requested by a particular job opening you're interested in, list it on your resume. Most recruiters are just matching tech keywords anyway, and more matches may get your resume ranked higher on the queue. Not a guarantee of course.

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