CT made a recommendation against having a dedicated section listing technical skills in a resume, but rather embedding this information into achievements.

I believe that it totally works when you have 5 skills to highlight, but I found it difficult to follow this recommendation for jobs like software engineers, architects, etc. when you need to list 20-40 technologies, tools and programming languages.

As an interviewer, I like resumes with all technical skills listed in one place, preferable in the bottom, so I can immediately identify fit and gaps to the technological portfolio of my organization. Otherwise, I have to read the entire resume memorizing skills as I go. I guess this is why people are using keyword extraction software.
As an interviewee:

  1. When I embed relevant skills within achievements, it feels that the main message gets diluted with a lot of terms.
  2. It is much easier to tailor my resume to list only skills most relevant to the position if it has a dedicated section for that. Otherwise, I have to revise my achievement text all the time.
  3. Since I do not want to list outdated or "rusty" skills (per a separate recommendation), my recent achievements look different from 5+ years ones.

So, I am going with a dedicated section with technical skills in my resume for now. Does anyone have a better recommendation?

mattpalmer's picture

And put all your keywords on page 2, headed "Keywords".  Page 1 is your MT resume, and page 2  is the filter bait.  Interviewers like me -- who know that someone smart can learn anything they have to, and someone dumb isn't worth hiring regardless of what list of technologies they claim to know -- can just read page 1 and make a yes/no call without having to turn a page.  Everyone else gets the hits they want out of their magical mystery box.

jrb3's picture
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 That is a creative use of the "page two" so many seem to think hiring managers expect.  I'll have some of that, thanks!  (swipe :-)

Come to think of it, I'll also use that to highlight achievements as a volunteer which play directly to the target of my next job search.

vtrubachov's picture

Thanks Matt - it makes sense to put this on the second page. I agree that specific technical skills matter less and less as you move up. However, for a medium-level positions, I do not necessary want someone (even if he or she is very good) who will need to learn 10 new things.

mattpalmer's picture

I absolutely agree that if you're hiring for an erlang developer, getting someone with 10 years experience in .Net is probably going to be a bit of a stretch.  However, I can't imagine a situation in which you couldn't get a reasonable idea of what broad technical areas someone has spent time in based on their responsibilities and accomplishments (and the companies they've worked for -- I know what technologies all my competitors specialise in).

Beyond "broad competencies", you're out of the range of what a resume can usefully tell you anyway.  If you really need someone who can put together some kick-arse code, you'll want them to do that for you in an interview.  Relying entirely on what someone has on their resume is a recipe for a really dodgy hire.

mtietel's picture
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CT made a recommendation against it for valid reasons.

As an interviewer, I hate "technical skills" sections.  It just proves to me that you're sending out "shotgun" resumes.  I invested time in determining the key skills I was looking for as the hiring manager - and it's not a list of 20-40 tools, technologies, and languages!  If you can't find a way to mention those few key skills clearly in your cover letter and resume accomplishments or responsibilities, then you've not demonstrated that you're worth my time for an interview.  And by the way, if I think they are key skills for the job, you better have some deep experience with them.

As an applicant I love "technical skills" sections on everyone else's resume.  Because mine will stand out more.  My resume is an MT one. It's one page (that alone makes it stand out!).  It's tailored to the position I'm applying for, with the few keys skills appearing explicitly in responsibilities or accomplishments.  It doesn't list some random collection of tools/technologies I've used throughout my career and that the hiring manager doesn't care about.  Like my cover letter, it states that I meet their needs explicitly.

mtietel's picture
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 Let's look at an example.  I selected a technology job posting at random from a job board.  It's for a lead software engineer and lists the following technology requirements: Java, J2EE, Spring, Hibernate, Oracle, TDD, Agile.

You could list a bunch of technologies in a technical skills section and have an accomplishment like this:

- Supported the platform by fixing bugs as assigned.

Or you could skip the tech skills section and have an accomplishment bullet that looks like this:

- Slashed open defects by 78% by implementing TDD using Java and jUnit.

I'd argue the second approach is demonstrably better...

derosier's picture
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 Seriously, it's not needed.

1. It takes up unneeded space

2. It has 0 context

3. Trying to "memorize skills" is not a problem at all because you edit your resume for every single job you apply for. And when you do that you drop the technologies that are irrelevant and emphasize the ones that you know your target is looking for.

I am a tech person. I've written production software in >20 different languages. I've used a ton of toolsets, frameworks, etc. And I don't worry at all about dropping the stuff that's irrelevant to the position I'm trying to get. My early resumes had the tech skills block. My current MT one doesn't. My early resumes got ~ 3% call-back rate. Now when I submit my resume for a job, I know I've got well over an 80% chance of getting at least to the phone-screen stage. Yes, I'm high-C so I measure these things. :)

Make sure that your achievements and your job descriptions have all the technologies and buzzwords so that everything is covered in your 5-page "career management document" and then cut that down to the one page resume you need when you apply. It typically takes me 20 minutes to create a targeted customized resume for each position.