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Timo
Timo

Posted on • Originally published at dev.to

Do not put skill bars on your resume!

I see a lot of programming beginners doing webdev-projects building skill bars. When I was starting and done programming for about one or two years, in my perception skill bars were common sense to show your skill level. So in a result, something similar to this (Fig.1) had found its way onto my first real resume.

my resume skills

Fig.1 - Skill section on my resume

Nowadays, I think skill bars are an illogical style of presentation and completely meaningless.

Visually attracting

A few years ago, my opinion was completely different. I thought, skill bars are a cute-looking point system and a creative way to visualize your skills.

Meaningless

But even if it looks cute, it is completely meaningless.
When creating a skill bar you are also creating some kind of point scale system, e.g. 10 points, 5 points or 100 percent.
But how do you compare your skills to that? To rate your skills equally on your scale, you would need to create some sort of criteria and equal tests for each one which measures the skill on your 10 point - or whatever - scale.
question marks
When not showing your criteria, the employer will not know what the criteria for your rating were. Do you even know?
Also, the point system makes no sense.

Example: English 4/5
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Answer one question: What is the difference between 3/5 and 4/5?
I don't know, probably there is no difference because the points mean nothing.

Equal difficulty

Seeing such skill bars gives the impression that every skill has the same difficulty.

Example:
    Java 4/5
    Python 3/5
    HTML 5/5
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Basically saying it's a unique point scale comparing completely different languages or skills on that scale, no matter of difference in quality and difficulty.
It makes no sense!

Shows design skills

Some people say skill bars show web-development or design skills because
graphics like skill bars stand out of the application or resume and maybe bias the employer positively.
But even people on Reddit dislike this trend!

Waste of space

Skill bars use a lot of space which could be used much better, e.g. to provide more information about your skill set. When considering graphics can't be read by machines (ATS systems), skill bars seem to be quite a large waste of space.
Also, graphics on a resume distract from the professional appearance of your resume and make it look more like a flyer - what you probably not want.

Subjective and unreliable

But the biggest issue with skill bars is that they are subjective and unreliable because people are bad in rating themselves.

rate yourself

According to Emilie Thewon, a Marketing and Business Development Director,"self-evaluating their own performance, competences and skills is flawed and inaccurate" for the most people.
Studies show that intelligent people often think deeper about the problem and rather rate themselves lower for tasks they are good at, where less intelligent persons or people who have less expertise in a certain topic rather rate themselves higher than an objective rating would be.

lies on job applications

Fig.2 - Most common lies on job applications according to CNBC (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/19/how-many-job-seekers-lie-on-their-job-application.html) originally from Checkster (https://www.checkster.com/are_you_hiring_charlatans)

To accomplish this, many people cheat in their resume to have a favorable effect on the employer. As you can see in Fig.2 misrepresenting yourself in the application seems to be almost normal nowadays.

Solutions

In my opinion the only thing what matters in the skill section is what you have worked with before.
So a better practice is just listing your skills and show your exact skill level suitable to the type of skill, e.g. "basic", "proficiency level" or "experienced". Also, you can add facts like certifications, degree or licenses.
If your resume is online you can show projects, link them and maybe add what you used to complete that projects.


People using skill bars are "generally quite intelligent but have very poor social skills and lack self-awareness" ~ Brian Grubba, District Manager


Please feel free to write your opinion in the comment section!

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Timo

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