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I'm a maintenance programmer, and I work with a rather large list of technologies on a monthly if not daily basis. For example I'm competent (obviously not expert) in the following languages:

  • Java (including J2EE)
  • C#
  • VB6
  • ASP Classic

When I go to work on my resume, how many of the technologies should I list? It seems pointless, or even a problem, to list them all. I don't like reading vast lists of technologies when I read resumes. How many should I list, and how should I choose?

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exclude outdated and the ones you don't want to work on. –  Aditya P Apr 28 '11 at 11:18
    
I like the name ASP 'Classic'. It's makes it sound good. –  John Shaft Apr 28 '11 at 14:11
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@Aditya, why should one exclude the ones he's a master at, but doesn't want to work on? The more things you're good at the better you are... aren't you? –  Pavel Shved Apr 28 '11 at 15:38
    
List things like computer hacking skills, nunchuck skills, also if you are good with a bo staff. –  MVCylon Apr 28 '11 at 15:40
    
@C. Ross You should only list the skills you want to work on and grow. Don't list the things you know and hate. –  MVCylon Apr 28 '11 at 15:42
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13 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

List them all in a comma (not bullet) separated list in the first or second paragraph of your resume. Interviewers like to see broad experience, so the more the better. And here's a little tip: leave out the "obviously not expert" bit.

You are a "maintenance" programmer. Do you know what that means? That means you get the hard problems. Building a system from scratch is the easy stuff. Keeping a system running over the long haul is the hard stuff. Don't undersell yourself.

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There is probably no limit in how many. The limit is if you really can use them and if you are able to answer basic questions about these technologies. There is nothing worse then listing technology without being able to show that you know how to use it.

The limiting factor can be how good you are in the technology? If you are able to write programs in all of them, definitely list them. But if you are able only to read the code in any of them then it is probably not a good choice to list such technology - you can mention it during interview. I'm also able to read VB.NET programs but I would not place VB.NET in my CV.

The last point is listing only technologies you want to use on daily basis. Are you ready to be full time VB6 programmer? For example I do not mention Sharepoint in my CV because I hate it.

Edit based on comment:

Well, there are two types of resumes / CVs which must be strictly differed:

  • Public profile - you use this resume as something which describes your skills and knowledge and you will publish it so that head hunters and possible employers can find you. You can find such profiles in job agencies, on linked-in, personal web sites, etc. This resume can contain skills from different areas and some of them can be also older. It can contain description of your previous jobs etc. You should still keep your public profile consistent and big just "enough". Nobody is interested in Masters of the world who knows everything and has experience with everything.
  • Targeted resume - if you apply for concrete job you should always create new resume / CV targeted exactly to the requirements from job description. This resume contains only skills related to the job position you are trying to apply for. If you are applying for Web Designer then knowledge of Photoshop is applicable but if you are applying for core Java Developer the knowledge of Photoshop is irrelevant. Your targeted resume should be short - 2 (max 3) pages including most relevant skills (don't forget soft skills) / recent jobs + short descriptions / education / certificates. I'm not sure if this is global but in my country resume is accompanied by "motivation letter". Motivation letter has few paragraphs (just about half a page) where you describe points like: Why are you applying for the job? Why do you like the job? Why do you think you are the one who should get the job? What will company get if they hire you? etc.

Writing resume and motivation letter is separate skill. Remember that for interesting job you can compete with dozens of other candidates and not everybody is invited to interview. Sometimes first selection is done just by the resume and motivation letter. Your resume must be the best but it must contain only truth.

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+1 At my job, it doesn't matter if you put down C, Java, Python or VHDL, We will have someone that is good at that and you will interview with them. Don't put something down if you can't answer questions on it. –  unholysampler Apr 28 '11 at 11:43
    
What about related technologies, like Photoshop experience... or should things like that be left out of a programmers resume? –  JD Isaacks Apr 28 '11 at 15:42
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Try to avoid including those that have nothing to do with the job you are applying for if you feel your CV is getting too lengthy. C++ should stand out for that type of job and not get buried behind the various versions of HTML. You don't want someone to be annoyed after reading your 10 page CV for a junior position. "Read chapter 15 on pointers. Signed up for an open source project using Python yesterday."

List the skills that you are comfortable indicating your level of competence. You may not want your only project to be "Hello World!" Just listing C# with no experience actually building something isn't going to cut it.

If you're desperate for a particular job, you may have to indicate skills you don't really want to do. Conversion projects will require working with potentially antiquated languages, but hopefully this is temporary and you still get to work with the new language of choice.

We're all trying to sell ourselves. Keep your CV neat and concise (relative to what is acceptable in your part of the world). If you create the next killer-app or create a new language, you can get away with a sloppy CV; otherwise, you're just a slob.

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Tailor it! If you have a cornucopia of technologies, list the one relevant to the position you are applying for.

Also - if there's doubt or you see a value to adding more, stick to the high level. For example, Java/JEE and only those APIs you have serious familiarity with. Don't bother with all the little stuff (JavaScript, JSP, JSF, Swing, and that's just the front end...) if you are also going to list other major branches of programming.

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I agree with @Ladislav Mrnka which can be summed up as a rule of thumb:

Mention the skills you know and are willing to work with.

There is no upper limit; or more specifically, the more the better for you. The reason is that recruiters scan CV's for keywords. The more skills you put in then the more hits you will pop up on, giving you more visibility. This applies both through search engines in a digital version of your CV as well as through good ol' eye contact on the dead tree version of your CV.

Leaving out deprecated or irrelevant skills is more tricky to deal with though; as they can be as much red flag for a recruiter as they won't be. It all depends on how they deal with such CV's and if they have some preconcieved notion about certain types of people (aka. are discriminatory).

For example:

  • A programmer that knows Photoshop could be very well regarded as a someone that doesn't know much about programming (this applies for me considering I do both design and programming work).

  • Sometimes leaving out irrelevant technology such as Office suites would leave you out on HR organizations who scan after that ability even though it's not needed.

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Highlight those which you are more familar and intersted to work on, also see the company's requirement they are seeking.

For example, if there are .NET openings, you need not to highlight Java.

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Keep it practical for your CV/Resume. Most employers won't look at your CV if it's over 2 pages, but you don't want it to be under 1.5 pages either.

If your CV is over two pages with all the technologies you want to list, then pick the ones you think are least relevant to the position that you are applying to and toss them. If you find yourself applying to a position where those technologies are now relevant, include them again. Custom resumes go a lot further imo.

If your CV is under 1.5 pages and you're looking to fill out some space, don't reach for extra technologies that you can't intelligently talk about in an interview. Instead, try to flesh out another section such as "Volunteer Work" or somesuch to show that you know a lot of technologies, but you're also a well-rounded individual.

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I've heard the myth that if the CV is more than 2 pages, employers won't review it. Personally, I think that if you are a mid-/senior-level individual and your CV is NOT more than 2 pages long, there is an issue. –  warren Apr 28 '11 at 13:52
    
I recently applied for a job and had three pages of stuff. Didn't deter the interviewers at all and they appreciated the detail. BTW - I got the job. –  staticx Apr 28 '11 at 19:24
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Many people will only look at the first two pages as they have 500 resumes to get through, some only look at the first page. Anything over three will probably get you tossed as hopeless. We passed around the ten page resume we got one time so everyone could laugh at it. I have over 30 years exoerience and my resume is two pages long. No one is interested in anything you did more than 10 years ago anyway making ti easy to cut it down. Just be sure if you have more than 2 pages to put the most important stuff on page one and not to waste that precious space with things like Objectives. –  HLGEM Apr 28 '11 at 21:38
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I personally don't list skills as a separate section at all, but integrated with my experiences.

When discussing each position that I've held, I discuss the technologies and tools that I've used or was exposed to in addition to the tasks that I performed. It becomes more along the lines of "I did X using Y and Z". I try to focus my resume on what I've done and what I used to do it.

In my experiences, there will be application forms that companies will provide in which you have the opportunity to clearly enumerate your skills. In addition, if I'm writing a cover letter or email, I'll also highlight anything relevant to the position.

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When you list something in the skills section of your resume , it means you have more than a Learner's competence level. You are opening yourself to being tested on those skills. If you can answer technical questions in that language do include it. If you are not confident of answering more than 50% of the common questions, don't include it.

List only those you have worked on in the industry in fair detail. If you know a technology well,maybe you have done a certification in it but haven't really worked on it, do include it.

For instance my current project is in C++/CLI but I also do a bit of C# coding(say 10% ). I do not include the C# bit in my list of skills since I haven't done a course ; but I do mention it in the project details.

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You should list only the technologies with whom you can start work right away, if the employer desires. I also used to program in C and have a working knowledge, but I may find it difficult if the employer asks me to start with it right away.

Therefore you should list only those technologies which you are using at present and have expertise to start work immediately.

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I have a bulleted list of comma-seperated skills/technologies I know/use. Each bullet is a list of related technologies, something like:

  • Languages (e.g. C#, Java, Python)
  • Web-technologies (e.g. JavaScript, CSS3)
  • Database Techs (e.g. Sql Server, Oracle)
  • Data Access (SubSonic, Hibernate, Entity Framework)

etc etc.

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How to specify concepts like Design patterns, Ajile, Scrum etc.. ie. not a technology kind stuffs –  Sen Jacob 2 days ago
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I usually list off areas of specialty/expertise seperate from "technologies". Applying for a .Net position, not many are looking for a JQuery expert, so I try not to let that take away from my true specialties. It might look something like this:

Expertise: C#, MVVM WPF, WCF

Technologies: JQuery, Linq, Entity Framework, Windows Workflow Foundation, RPG

This prevents the situation that can really bite you: when a hiring manager counts certain technologies as actual negatives against you. Of course it is irrational, but most people cringe a little when they see outdated technologies on a CV. In our area its fairly difficult to find .Net people, but there are loads of AS400 RPG people. A lot of the RPG people will learn just enough C# to get in the door, but after 6 months its realized that although they can code, they're fundamentals are from a totally different platform, and they stuggle to pick up the most basic language dependent design patterns. Obviously, its not everyone, and I know some real wizards who spent years on COBOL, but it doesn't stop people from thinking twice. If you don't want to totally leave that skill of the list, putting it in a sublist can be a good option.

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List every skill for which you are willing to accept a job.

Also, I recommend having an acronym (initialism actually, but who's counting) section where you list every variation of acronym (initialism, and that's 2) and possible name for every skill you list. For example you might list JEE, J2EE, JSE, J2SE, Java, Java 2 Standard Edition, Java Standard Edition, Java 2 Enterprise Edition, and Java Enterprise Edition. This is helpful (for you) when recruiters are searching through resumes for key words.

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