How To List Programming Skills on a Resume

Updated August 10, 2023

an illustration of a resume template

Deciding the best layout for your programmer resume skills section can help highlight your qualifications to an employer. By enlisting some helpful tips, you can discover the most effective formatting method that will help enhance your professionalism as a programmer.

In this article, we review why it’s important to know how to properly list programming skills on your resume​​—complete with a step-by-step guide, plus we provide both templates and examples to help you create your professional programmer skills section on a resume.

Why are programming skills on a resume important?

Programming skills are important to your resume because they demonstrate your technical skill level within your field. They are different from soft (interpersonal) skills, such as being detail-oriented or a great communicator.

Programming skills help demonstrate the relevancy of your qualifications to a specific job position and can be a deciding factor in whether or not an employer chooses to contact you.

Related: How To List Education on a Resume

How to list programming skills on a resume

There are several factors you need to consider before you can successfully list programming skills on your resume. Apply these steps to your own resume-writing process:

1. Review the job description

The first step in deciding how you should list your programming skills on your resume is to review the original job posting for the position in which you plan on applying. Use the job description to highlight specific skills and review the experience levels that are necessary to complete the job efficiently.

Related: How To Tailor Your Resume To a Job Description (With Example)

2. Compare your technical skills to the job in question

After reviewing the job posting, compare how your current programming skills and level of experience relate to what the employer is asking for. If the description in the job posting does not reflect your qualifications, consider other skill areas that you could use to present yourself as a reliable candidate for the position.

3. Be honest with yourself

You want to make sure that you are being honest with yourself and the employer to whom you are sending your resume. Make sure not to exaggerate your skill level or include programming languages that you are not familiar with.

This could be present a misrepresentation of you as a candidate. If your qualifications do not match those of the job description, consider pursuing opportunities that better suit all you have to offer.

Related: How To Avoid Embellishing Your Resume Too Much

4. Place your skills section at the top of your resume

You should place your skills section at the top of your resume so that employers can immediately review your qualifications and mark you as a good candidate to pursue.

Place your programming skills directly under your header and contact details if you do not wish to include an objective statement or summary section. Place your programming skills directly below your objective statement or summary if you do choose to include one.

Related: 120 Skills To Include on Your Next Resume

5. Organize your most advanced skills first

By organizing your most advanced skills before those that you consider intermediate or beginner level, you can potentially encourage an employer to continue reading your resume. If they are in the process of skimming through candidate resumes, having not only the required programming skills but also desired skill levels in those areas could determine whether or not they contact you for an interview.

6. Categorize your skills into tools, languages and operating systems

Instead of simply listing your programming skills in an unordered, bulleted format, consider separating them depending on whether they are considered a programming language, tool or operating system. This can demonstrate your organizational skills while also clearly outlining your skill set to an employer.

Related: Experience vs. Skills: What's the Difference?

7. Place skills next to years of experience and skill level

This might be a good option for a programmer with experience working in the industry. If you are an entry-level programmer looking to apply for an entry-level position, listing that you have seven years of experience working with HTML might not seem realistic to an employer.

8. Adjust formatting based on your current qualifications

Concerning the above point, be sure to tailor your skills section to fit your current programming skills, experience level and the job position to which you are applying. As long as you consider these three elements, you can format your qualifications in a way that could enhance your employability.

Related: How To List Certifications on a Resume

Tips for what to include in your programming skills section

Here are a few components that are helpful to include when creating your programming skills section on your resume:

Header: Use the header as a means to define the section and what it addresses. Titles such as core skills, programming skills or technical skills can help a hiring manager identify exactly what the section contains.

Horizontal categories: Make use of horizontal space by creating horizontal categories rather than vertical ones. This can help eliminate blank space on your resume while also remaining aesthetically pleasing.

Technical skills: List as many relevant skills that represent your qualifications as you can. You can include programming languages, tools or operating systems that you are familiar with.

Skill level: Classify your level of experience with each programming skill as either beginner (proficient), intermediate or advanced. You should place your most advanced skills at the top of your skill section so that hiring managers see your most versatile traits first.

Years of experience: You can also include the number of years of experience you have working with particular programming languages.

Related: 10 Types of Technical Competence and Examples

Programming skills list: templates and examples

Here are three templates and examples to use as a guide for your own programming skills section. Be sure to adjust these examples and the template options to fit your needs:

Template 1

Languages Operating Systems Tools
Language skill 1 Operating system 1 Tool 1
Language skill 2 Operating system 2 Tool 2
Language skill 3 Operating system 3 Tool 3
Language skill 4 Operating system 4 Tool 4

Example 1

Core Programming Qualifications
Languages Operating Systems Tools
HTML Linux Dreamweaver
XML Mac OS X Oracle SQL
Java WindowsXP UltraEdit
C++ Apple IOS JBuilder

Template 2

Languages Skill level
Skill 1 Skill level title
Skill 2 Skill level title
Skill 3 Skill level title
Skill 4 Skill level title

Example 2

Programming Skills
Languages Skill Level
HTML advanced
XML advanced
Java advanced
C++ intermediate

Template 3

Languages Number of years experience Experience level
Skill 1 #+ years Experience level
Skill 2 #+ years Experience level
Skill 3 #+ years Experience level
Skill 4 #+ years Experience level

Example 3

Relevant Technical Skills
Languages # of Years Experience Experience Level
HTML 10+ years advanced
XML 7+ years advanced
Java 3+ years advanced
C++ 2+ years intermediate

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