How to List Programming Skills on Your Resume According to a Recruiter

Proven strategies on how to list programming skills and languages on your resume, which skills and keywords to choose, and how to optimize your programming resume for ATS

3 months ago   •   6 min read

By Rohan Mahtani
Table of contents

Programming is an incredibly competitive skill to showcase in the current job market, but how do you know which programming skills to highlight on your resume? And how do you list your skills without overcrowding your resume?

The trick is to prioritize specific relevant skills tailored to the job description and to use subheadings to categorize your skills into an easily scannable list. Ideally they’ll be incorporated into both the skills and Work Experience sections of your resume.

In this article, we will discuss where and how to list programming skills on your resume, how to decide which programming skills to highlight. We’ll also provide examples and templates of how to best format and present your skills to impress a potential employer.

How to list programming skills and languages in your Skills section

Programming skills are a great addition to any resume. This will help optimize your resume for ATS and show recruiters why you're the right candidate for the position.

List your skills in order of relevance

When constructing your skill list, always put your most relevant and competitive skills first. For example, if a job posting specifically mentions Python as the primary language, Python should be first on your list, even if you have more experience working in JavaScript.

Tailor your skills to the job description

Thoroughly read the job posting you are applying to and identify key skills the company is seeking that are mentioned in the job description. This will help your resume get past ATS scanners that filter resumes based on keyword inclusion criteria.

A good way to check if your resume is ATS friendly is to upload it to the tool below — It’ll scan your resume for keywords, quantifiable accomplishments, job titles and other key criteria recruiters look at in a resume.

Optimize your skills using keywords

To further optimize your skill list for ATS, use a keyword finder to generate a list of competitive skills and ensure these skills appear at least once on your resume. You can also use an AI-powered resume scanner to identify any essential skills missing from your resume and to highlight areas where you can improve your wording to capture more relevant keywords.

Aim for 5-10 relevant programming skills

Don't drown your resume in skills. Listing too many irrelevant skills will make your resume look cluttered and can unintentionally hide the most essential information. When choosing skills, focus on quality over quantity. Choose 5-10 skills that are the most relevant to the position you are applying for and those you are the most adept at.

Include programming skills in a dedicated section

If you have a significant number of programming skills and languages, use subheadings in your skills section to categorize your skills, and list your programming skills under "Technical Skills", "Programming Skills", or "Programming Languages". Using subheadings will make your skills section easier to read and help your essential skills stand out.

Here is an example of how to categorize your skills list into technical and non-technical skills:

Example of how to list programming skills on your resume in a dedicated section
Example of how to list programming skills on your resume in a dedicated section

Categorize your skills further

If you have an extensive list of programming skills that are all deeply relevant to your application, categorize your skill list further based on the industry, type of skill, or application. The aim is to group skills to make your resume easily scannable and not overwhelm a recruiter with a long list of skills.

For example:

Technical Skills:
Languages: Java, JavaScript, HTML, Bootstrap
Frameworks: J2EE, JSF
Software: Toad, Works, NetBeans
Databases: Oracle, MySQL, Database SQL command

Here is an example of a simple two-column Programmer resume, categorizing key skills into "Technical Skills and Software", "Design Methodologies", and "Tools and Services":

Template showing how to list skills on a programmer resume.
Template showing how to list skills on a programmer resume.

Add other common skills from your industry

Once you have incorporated the keywords from the job description into your resume, include other common skills sought after in your industry, such as AngularJS, JavaScript, and Java, even if they are not mentioned explicitly in the job description. This shows your understanding of the broader aspects of the job, as well as your experience in different sectors within your industry. Common universal programming skills include:

  • C
  • Software Development
  • Javascript
  • Git
  • Angular JS
  • Programming
  • Agile
  • AWS
  • Linux
  • Amazon Services

If you’re unsure which of your programming skills to include on your resume, use the skills search tool below to get a list of hard and technical skills relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Include skills gained through self-study

Your skills don't always have to come from paid work experience. Many of us learn skills outside of the work environment for personal projects, creative endeavors, or through online tutorials. Including these skills can help you capture all your relevant keywords and showcase that you are proactive in pursuing continued education and improving your skill set outside of work.

How to list programming skills in your Work Experience section

Hard skills and languages don't only appear in your skills section. To optimize your resume for ATS and showcase your experience to a recruiter, you also want to mention specific skills when describing your Work Experience.

Your work experience should be in bullet point format and constructed using power phrases. Describe specific projects or achievements and list relevant programming skills you learned or used on those projects.

For example:

Created responsive user interfaces for a portfolio website using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Use strong action verbs and quantify your experience with numbers and metrics to demonstrate your impact.

For example:

Developed and implemented a data-driven inventory management system using Python, resulting in a 25% reduction in inventory holding costs and a 30% increase in order fulfillment efficiency.

Here is a more thorough look at how to incorporate key programming skills into your experience section:

How to incorporate programming skills into the Work Experience section of your resume.
How to incorporate programming skills into the Work Experience section of your resume.

Formatting guidelines for programming skills

Here are some tips for how to format your programming skills to make them easier to read:

  • Emphasize significant skills by highlighting them in bold. For example: Java, Python, JavaScript
  • Maintain a consistent order throughout your resume. If you list languages followed by frameworks and then tools, follow that same format when describing your work experience.
  • Make sure there is enough space between your different sections to maintain visibility.

Which programming languages to include

Though you may have experience with hundreds of different programming languages, you should only list those relevant to your application. Which programming languages are appropriate will depend entirely on your position, your industry, and your language proficiency.

For example, if you are applying for a web developer role, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript would be highly relevant, but if you are applying for a position as a financial data analyst, R or MATLAB would be a better fit.

Check out this list for which specific skills to include when applying for a position as a:

How to navigate skill levels

Always be honest about your skill levels and avoid claiming you are competent in a skill you're not. However, you can still list a skill you are not proficient with if it's relevant to your application.

If all the skills you are listing are the same proficiency, then you don't need to state a proficiency level. If you are including skills of different levels, you can either list your proficiency after each skill, for example:

Python - Advanced, JavaScript - Intermediate

Or group your skills according to proficiency:

Advanced: Java, JavaScript, JSFIntermediate: HTML, Bootstrap, J2EE

Examples and templates for how to list programming skills on your resume

Following all the advice detailed above, here is an example of a C++ Developer resume using a "Technical Skills" section:

How to incorporate programming skills into the Work Experience section of your resume.
How to incorporate programming skills into the Work Experience section of your resume.

And here is an example of a PLC Programmer resume highlighting different skills:

pasted image 0.png
Template showing how to highlight relevant skills on a PLC programmer resume.

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