I'm working on my resume and I want to make it kind of attractive. However, I'm still doubting about how I should display the skills section. I tried several thing like percentage bars for every skill and a pie chart, but it's difficult to estimate your own 'percentage'. Also the meaning of 65% photoshop is different from person to person. So I thought maybe I should use years of experience instead (as showed in the image below. It's in Dutch but I think the idea is clear).

In my opinion this is better than percentages. However it is still difficult to interpret this, because 3 years of experience don't tell anything about how good you are. Maybe you are even better in a skill with just 1 year experience, because you used this skill 3 times more than the skill with 3 years experience.

Also you can see some "gaps" and I don't know whether it's smart to show it like this. Do you have any ideas about the best way to show your skills on a resume?

enter image description here

  • I am doubtful of the utility of such a chart but if I was hiring I would give you a few points for a nice idea and easy to read chart. Nov 2, 2015 at 15:15
  • 1
    In general I like the idea but to me the gaps are a tad bit confusing and also the reverse order years threw me off quite a bit, I would list them left to right.
    – DasBeasto
    Nov 2, 2015 at 18:01

7 Answers 7


I am agreeing mostly to what others said before. Being responsible for team growth myself, I tend to not look at the "how good is she/he with Photoshop?" part. I am ASSUMING that if you apply to a graphics/UI/UX job, that you know how that tool works. If somebody puts a lot of focus on the day-to-day-tools she can use, I assume that she probably just started her career - you could say I get suspicious.

I would rather put in additional details on soft skills, project experience or tools you can use that stand out: Can you read and modify GoogleAnalytics? Did you work on research projects? Did you conduct studies or did you already participate in a fancy eye tracking session?

Personally, I would not put too much work in "how it looks", but rather fill it with details that fit the context. Make it a nice mix of "nice looks" and "see everything relevant about you quickly".

Instead of decrypting an image, write it down. Worst case is: People that are not even related to your field of expertise read it (which HR most likely is, and they get it FIRST, most of the time) and cannot understand if you really have "2 years of JAVA experience" but need to check if you do so.

  • 2
    Yes, this. With using tools like illustrator, photoshop, etc... I would assume that someone in the field knows how to use them, or at least is familiar enough with something similar that they can pick them up in not much time. Its rather more WHAT they can do/have done with them that is important. More the stuff of portfolios than CVs, in the CV such practicalities are masked under the various projects you've done Nov 2, 2015 at 15:14

In my opinion you can better show things like "user interface design", "3d modelling", "product design", "sketching", "graphic design" and maybe support them with some types of software you use. When someone see you have experience with user interface design, he or she already knows you probably have some experience with photoshop, illustrator and software like that. However, "user interface design" and "product design" for example, are on a higher level then "3d modelling" or "sketching". They are part of "product design".

What you can do is showing 3 or 4 core skills you have, and provide them with additional sub skills. I found an example of this a couple of months ago. "Product design" can be a core skill and you can support them with "sketching", "3d modelling" etc. Maybe this gives you some inspiration. enter image description here


I do this:

enter image description here

It is Quick and Easy, for a Hiring Manager, to Comprehend (as studies show that he just have only few seconds to Skim the entire CV and Shortlist it).


As you have pointed out, length doesn't accurately reflect level of expertise. I've been using Photoshop from version 2.0.1, long before layers, editable text, and multiple undos. But when I see how expertly some people use Photoshop even after couple years, I'm blown away.

For those with relatively short track record, the chart you created hurts more than helps because you are providing too much irrelevant information to prospective employer. For example, why highlight the fact that you stopped using Java for three and a half years?

What matters most from employer's perspective is not how long you've been using certain tools or languages, but what you make with them.

That means building a resume that best demonstrates your current abilities using visuals, code repository, and summary of your projects from which people can assess your skill so that the resume piques your interest enough to contact you.

If you need to list those items under skills section, I recommend listing them as bullet points, and you can highlight the ones you feel you are very good at. However I would avoid making a big visual chart out of it.

Resume should to play to your strength. :)


Although some of the answers are helpful suggestions on what a resume should contain and focus on, I find that they are not addressing the topic you're struggling with.

Assuming that you have taken steps to cover other grounds and all you're missing is the last touch on visualizing your skills on certain tools of the trade, I'd suggest using a scale to visualize your skill level.

Here's how I did mine. I hope it's helpful.

enter image description here

  • The problem with a scale for this context is that it lacks context. In other words, everyone's opinion of one's own particular skill is going to vary wildly, making the visualizations, at most, just pretty rather than meaningful metrics that can be compared to other resumes.
    – DA01
    Nov 2, 2015 at 19:11
  • You're right. It would indeed be easier to compare if all resumes are created equal. Perhaps that's something we, as a design community, should strife for. What's your thought? In the meantime, another way to look at these visualization of skills is as conversation starters and to make your resume stand out from the rest of the pile. Resumes are to get your through the door, and the interview is where you get to fill in the blanks, elaborate and impress. Nov 3, 2015 at 0:12
  • That is true, though I'd still be wary of this type of resume. I'd probably pass over it and go with the resume that focuses more on out come rather than lists specific software skills.
    – DA01
    Nov 3, 2015 at 0:29
  • True. True. The meat of the resume should be about ones experience: roles and responsibilities, problems solved for business and users, achievements etc. in previous jobs. A one pager resume that only shows ones skills in some tools will not suffice. Nov 3, 2015 at 0:56

What kind of job are you applying for? Context is everything.

Generically speaking, I think specific software tool skills are a rather pointless thing to highlight on a resume. It's like a carpenter putting they can use a hammer on their resume. We should just assume a carpenter knows how to swing a hammer and we should just assume a IT professional that does a bit of UI work knows how to learn how to do something in PhotoShop.

Furthermore, what if the job doesn't use Photoshop, but instead uses Sketch? It's not like you'd say "sorry, I've never used that software, I am obviously not qualified for the job". It feels if you highlight a tool skill to that degree, it implies it's a larger hurdle than it may actually be and could scare off people that don't see a particular skill on that list that applies to their company's particular toolbox.

Instead, focus on the output of said skills...not the skills itself.

That said, it doesn't hurt to at least list the skills somewhere if they are skills you would prefer resume key-word search bots can find.


Good question, isn't it?

My theory of understanding knowledge/skill is in 2 way that talking about one's professional. The interesting one is most of people recognizing in LENGTH of how long time the skill is experienced but missing another part about DEPTH just like what you are doubting.

Let's figure out what can define one's knowledge and skill, I personally believe a skill is about in two dimension, if we say someone is learned that doesn't mean he/she is professional enough in every aspects since we can not really that pro to understand each part in depth.

So I'd understand that timeline can only describe the LENGTH of how long, and we can add a PieChart to help/display how I recognized myself in that field what position the resume is sending. But putting no more than 4 Skills in the PieChart. Why PieChart? Just because it simply talks about what are in 100% of the man, what the man recognizes the position.

Instead of using PieChart, I will use RadarChart for some management position that might touch more profession skills, just because the RadarChart displays 5 or 6 abilities better and more beautiful.

This is one of my CV template design, it includes 2 chart for the choice. This is one of my CV template design, it includes 2 charts for the choice.

In additional, a portfolio is still a must for the understanding after all.

Bad language, hope this helps.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.