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Résumé Hack #4: Get Rid of Skills Ratings

A few years ago, I started noticing skills ratings on résumés. Basically, you list a skill and right next to it there is a tiny picture of a sliding scale, usually from one to 10--10 (I'm assuming) being highly experienced. Some ratings have no numbers at all.

There are many great suggestions on the internet for boosting the visibility of your résumé and standing out from the crowd, but I implore you--do not use skills ratings. It's a quick way to get your résumé overlooked by recruiters.

Let me explain.

Skills rating numbers are arbitrary. What does "1" on the scale mean? If you're using dots to represent proficiency, then what does three solid dots mean? I have yet to see a résumé that includes a legend for how to read a skills section. Besides taking up valuable space, if your skills section needs a legend, then you're already wasting a hiring manager's time. There are hundreds of résumés submitted everyday for a single job, and no one wants to spend extra time decoding one.

Skills ratings also assume you and the hiring manager use the same scale for measuring proficiency. What one manager may see as entry-level knowledge, another may see as highly proficient. But then again, what is "proficient"?

Another obstacle skills ratings create for your résumé, is being discarded by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Companies have been using these tracking systems for more than 20 years, and the technology is only getting smarter. ATS software is used by several companies to scan résumés for specific keywords that ideally match what they're looking for in a candidate. Well, the problem is, ATS software can't read images, which means your résumé could be discarded without a second look.

Standing out from the crowd is important, but you have to make sure the way you stand out ensures your accomplishments are clearly described. Don't get caught up in fads and trends that are visually appealing, but don't work.

Keep it simple.

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