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Don’t Include These Skills On Your Resume

April 21st, 2008 · 28 Comments

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It’s always a good idea to fill out your resume with any specific skills or specialties you might possess. Doing so is a good strategy to give you that extra little edge to stand out from a similarly qualified candidate.

And for years, a good way to do that was to include a list of the software, hardware and other various tech-ware you were competent in, or, at least, familiar with.

Not so much anymore.

I thought of this when reading the following article in the airport this weekend: 5 IT Skills That Won’t Boost Your Salary (InfoWorld)

The article is directed toward IT folk and programmer types, but the lesson in the article is applicable to all of us.

Basically, there are skill sets that are passé. Including them can only make you look like you’re padding out your resume at best, and “completely out of it” at worst.

6 “Skills” To Leave Off Your Resume

A professional resume service can help you figure out what skills are important to include in your resume.

I offer this list with one caveat: if the skill set in question is a job requirement, then you’d darn well better include it. For example, if the job description says you’ll be working exclusively in a WordPerfect environment, then it behooves you to list something like, “Extensive experience and familiarity with WordPerfect,” on your resume.

Otherwise, it’s ok to leave these things off:

  1. Your word-per-minute typing prowess; typing skills.
    You can type? Congratulations on making it to the 20th century. In the 21st century workforce, it’s assumed you can type well and at a reasonable pace. This is a bare minimum job requirement.
  2. Ability to work with PCs.
    Again, the fact that you are familiar with a work-tool that 97% of the world’s business is done on is not going to make you stand out. You might as well also list the fact that you breathe oxygen as a “skill.”
  3. Experience with Word, Excel, Outlook or any other Microsoft Office programs.
    I wish it were otherwise, but the western business world is tied to the Microsoft Office behemoth. If you don’t yet know how to create formulas in Excel or presentations with graphics in PowerPoint, then it might be time for some crash courses.
  4. Experience with non-Office programs.
    Similar to the point made above. No matter how superior the alternative programs might be, chances are you’ll be working in an MS Office environment, so your skills with WordPerfect are probably superfluous.
  5. HTML.
    I’m stealing this point directly from the article. If you want to give people the impression you have some coding skill, choose something a little more practical (PHP?) or cutting edge (FLEX?). My mom can do rudimentary HTML with her personal web page and photo albums. That would mean a lot if you knew my mother.
  6. Faxing/Copying skills.
    Again, gee, I hope you know how to do this… along with sending email, managing voicemail, texting on your cell phone, etc.

Related posts:

  1. Resume Tip- 4 Quick Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out
  2. Ask Brian – What is the Difference Between a CV and a Resume?
  3. Ask Brian- Lying on a Resume
  4. Ask Brian- Best Resume Tip
  5. Ask Brian- Politics on My Resume
  6. Old School Resume Hack- Snail Mail

Tags: Computers Work 4 U · Getting Ahead · Resumes

  • Joy

    Good grief, there goes a good chunk of my resume.

  • Dee

    I’m with Joy. I have my computer experience (PC/Mac, Office, etc.) listed on my resume. I was told that this helps with online job sites (like Monster, etc.) where employers look for keywords.

  • Brian

    Well, this is sort of what I was saying about, if it’s a job requirement… or if it’s likely to be a requirement, then including can’t hurt. I think I was mostly trying to address the issue of padding a resume out with this sort of information. It’s sort of a waste of time. The fact that you’re familiar with how to use a computer… again, it’s sort of expected. I don’t see how you could exist in the modern work environment WITHOUT knowing how to operate a PC.

  • Jodith

    I would add the caveat of: unless you are applying for a position as an Administrative Assistant. Pretty much all of those things (with the exception of copying/faxing) would be appropriate for an admin position. To the point that I not only have them in my resume, I mention them in my cover letter. I find that especially for upper level positions where incumbents are my age or older (I’m in my mid 40s), it isn’t assumed that you have these skills because for many of the older admin workers, computers are something they learned later in life, and for those at entry level, they may or may not have introductions to any of those skills.

    If you are a professional with a college education, though, all of those skills would be presumed, and you’ll make yourself sound like you are applying for a clerical level position.

  • Brian

    Good point, Jodith.

  • Annie

    I disagree on the HTML. I’m hiring for an online editor position right now, and anybody who knows HTML gets a nudge in my book. You would be amazed by how many people don’t know HTML, so when I see that skill on a resume, I’m happy.

  • Lindsey

    Most of those “skill sets” scream “I’ve been asleep for the last decade” to me. However, HTML is still a skill that’s valuable. What company doesn’t have a website? The more people on staff who can make any sort of website edit, however minimal, the better.

  • candi

    I agree with Annie. Not everyone is technologically advanced. Some things are easier for me than others, but html is one that is fairly difficult. I commend anybody who can say that they fully understand html…kudos on my part!

  • janna

    Agreed Jodith. I am an exec admin (also in my 40s) and those skills are still looked at. Even typing speed.

    I’ve also just re-located to a very rural area – most of these folks just want the basics – I’m certainly keeping them on my resume.

  • Ron

    Sad, but I work with some Sr. people who rely on my MS Office Skills (when I would rather be doing GIS). Enough so that I made it a requirement on a skill list for an assistant out of fear I will get someone who can’t use templates, outline numbering, set ranges, manage a contact list or file properties.

  • Stephanie

    Looking at my old resume, I see a lot of those…though I guess including familiartiy with UNIX or a science/technology program (Matlab, Mathmatica, AutoCAD) would be okay to include?

  • Christi

    I have to say I disagree with this very much! When browsing onine for jobs, most of the things that are mentioned to not include are requirements, and if those skills are not listed, the employer probably wouldn’t even bother calling back!! It’s obvious a 20 year old like myself is fluent with the skills, but in our economy today there are a lot of older people looking for jobs, so its even more important to highlight your assets, no matter how insignificant this article says they are!! =)
    Good luck to all job seekers!

  • http://thejobbored vee

    well i guess i will have to go back to school just to learn how to write a … resume. i am so tired of all this stuff. my resume is a reflection of what i can do on paper,but it is not what i can bring to the table in person. but it is a part of how i might get the job. THAT SUCKS!!!!

  • Amanda

    Some good points, however any good resume has to be tailored to the job. I am a young professional (27) and have to say if I am reviewing a resume of an older or entry level person or person re-entering the workplace I look for some indication that they can use a computer i.e. typing 40+ (with two fingers), internet research, localized email (outlook not hotmail), and not just typing in a word processor but formatting and merging documents. That being said if they put HTML, GIS, Photoshop, CAD, etc I assume they already know the basics and some intermediate stuff and they would not need to list anything other than MS Applications and MS operating system. PLEASE people if you are a Mac user primarily you need to be specific on your resume. If you are planning to work in any field that works with desktop or internet publications you had better know the basics of both systems especially their compatibility limitations.
    Lastly, the thing that puts me off a resume more than old fashioned jargon is using an inappropriate format. Instead of trying to tailor your jobs/skills to your resume, tailor your resume to your jobs/skills. Google “types of resumes” if you don’t know the difference between Chronological, Functional (aka skills based), Combination, and Targeted Resumes. Personally I use a combination because my undergraduate and graduate course work doesn’t match up with my previous job descriptions or industries.
    TIP: Even if your local library doesn’t have a Mac lab your local college or unemployment department will. In many cases if you call them and tell them you would like to try working on a Mac for a few hours for job training they will likely let you use one even if you are not a student or client.

    Need someone to proof read your resume, email me.

  • Travis

    Short of the specialized skills in a major, the mentioned skills are mostly what a college grad has to offer on their resume. Their one cutting advantage over the older workforce is their intense familiarity with computers. Maybe it doesn’t look ideal on a resume, but I can’t hardly believe it’s better than having a grossly skimpy one.

  • Lore

    whew… i caught some luck there, im not an IT, but that does affect me even slightly… im looking at a career with animation.

  • Whispyr

    I disagree. Your resume should be just like your cover letter: designed around the company you are applying for. If they request a certain amount of words per minute on your typing, I believe you should show it with a kind of outlook like “Hey! Over here! I have what you’re looking for!” In the job hunt, you should ALWAYS be trying to sell yourself because hey, you want that job instead of it going to someone else…but the things stated in this article basically say (to me at least) exactly opposite. Yes, computers are a huge part of today’s life, but you would be surprised at just how many people don’t know how to use “BASIC” programs. Plus, I think listing all of your skills shows that you have the ability to learn new things. But hey, what do I know? I’m just another college grad, not some PhD in mating Bulldogs with Shitzhus ;)

  • Aylesha

    Wow… What an article… I just started putting things like this on my resume and noticed a big difference in actually getting a desent job not only did I find a better job but my salary is much better.

  • Aylesha

    Also, I use to work in HR and when certain things were not on your resume we would move on to the next one.

  • Rachel

    This article is ABSOLUTELY horrible. All of the skills that were mentioned have been key requirements for every job I have interviewed for. Please do not listen to any of this advice. Well, do if you don’t want a job!

  • Theresa

    Excuse me, I would like to point out that I am an “older” worker, being all of 51 years of age, and yes, we “older” workers do have computer skills. Did you know that they were using PCs in offices way back in the early 80s? If anything, I’d say we have even more computer skills than those who are younger.

  • Anna

    Post 20 is right, this is a horrible article to say that this applies to everyone. While these skills may be irrelevant to list for an IT Professional, they very much are key skills for everyone else. Incumbent workers, Dislocated Workers, or simply our senior workforce would want to list their working and practical knowledge of computers and computer software.

  • miranda

    hey why is it called this

  • withinawaken

    Wow, you really didn’t sugarcoat this, did ya? lol I guess you make some valid points but others like HTML? Not just anybody can create a good webpage, so it’s a rather useful skill to have. Why not include it in a CV?

  • Faggot

    What a massive load of bullshit.

  • Thirty9plus2

    Some laughable points but generally very to the point. The only one I have  issue with is MS Office. I understand that it is an expectation but there are too many people that have limited knowledge of the package and as things move faster they are often left out. I have IT skills on my CV with excellent working knowledge of MS office (I am very comfortable with the main apps outlook, word, excel ppt / not so much access but that has never come into my work) and specific emphasis on Excel VBA. Working with numbers I think this is a basic skill!!

  • bizwiz

    I actually agree.  However, many employers assume you don’t know Excel or Outlook if you don’t put “all MS Office”, and if you are applying for a business job where code may come up but is not an essential duty, html and css styles are sometimes a plus.

  • mastedon2

    I spent the later years of my education working with computers in all kinds of various courses, thinking this would give me additional skills in the office place. Now, all I do is run around and help the older crowd that never touched a computer before (ink in their printers, updating software,, you know, stupid stuff. I wish I never let the company know I could do any of these things as its become a full time function of mine now, and nothing was ever said about an increase for it.