I was looking at the resume in this question, and I noticed the skills bar chart. I've seen this on several designers' resumes and was wondering if it is a new fad, if it's something that I should consider adding to my resume/website, etc.

Chart showing somebody's experience with software

Wouldn't this get you less clients if you forget or didn't have the room to add every single piece of software that you know and your skill level of said software? I can understand adding fundamental software like Photoshop and Illustrator, but what about all the little programs that I don't use very often, but I still know how to use? If I were to list all those, the resume would be like 3 pages long.

Is this a useful graphic to add?

  • The same thing could be said about a paragraph of text or a bullet list of your software skills - you'll always need to think about what level of info to include regardless of the type of presentation used Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 9:38
  • I think it means very little to the person reading it. You may think youre quite skillful in a certain programme, but relating to who? It's just a fad and a complete waste of time and space.
    – Bagseye
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 17:34
  • I found this page because I had to do some searching to see if it was actually useful for anything after I saw a resume builder that purported to have bar charts for skill levels and I too ran into the issue of what exactly the bars were supposed to represent. I went through the whole process of building up a resume, only to find it didn't show any kind of graphics, just bullet points for ANY of the templates that shows these fancy bar charts in the preview!
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 17:48

6 Answers 6


No. It's a trend. It looks pretty. But it has no meaningful purpose.

For instance, the guy in that link has 15 of 16 circles filled for Photoshop.

15 of 16 whats? Skill units? Years? Is he 15/16ths of the way to beating the boss at the end of Photoshop? No! It makes no sense.

If you can find a way to make a chart that tells a story, or puts an actual quantity on your skills, go for it. (a skills timeline, perhaps??)

A better way to sell your skills is by saying you have practiced a skill for X years, kept up with updates and trends, attended webinars/classes/training etc., and, most importantly, show it in your work!


If the information is valuable (in other words, if it makes you look good), placing it in an immediately identifiable graphic is nice. It is not mandatory though and you shouldn't force it into a resume just because you can.

People intake information in two basic ways... simultaneous intake and linear intake.

Images, graphs, charts, all foster simultaneous intake. One can look at a graph or chart and instantly understand the intent. It takes mere seconds to understand that A is bigger or more important than B.

Whereas with text, everything is interpreted in a linear fashion. You have to read the preceding words before the following words make sense. Or you read a list from top to bottom. Once you're at the bottom you may not entirely recall what was at the top.

I, personally, don't think that's a great resume in your link. It's laid out nicely, color choices are good, but there's very little substance to it. I mean that word cloud at the bottom is just pointless. The entire goal of a resume is to get you a call back or interview. I would not be calling that designer because there's not enough information present on the resume, nothing about that resume makes me want to know more about him or his skills. In addition, there is some fairly poor gramar - even considering English may not be his native language..... have an English speaker proof-read it. I'd never create a Yugoslavian, or French, or any other language, resume without hiring a native speaker to review it before sending it out or posting it somewhere.

As for all the little apps you may know how to use..... it's not important to list absolutely everything you are familiar with. Simply cover what will be of primary interest to an employer... Adobe apps, Quark apps, web language/packages, etc. No one is going to care that you know how to use iTunes or Winamp.. so leave that stuff off.


I would assume that the bar chart (like that guy's word cloud) is being used to take up space because the résumé is so thin in content. Tell me that you know InDesign; if I want to interview you, I can do a skills test then, or train you after I hire you if you're lacking in a few areas.

Unless the rest of the résumé is spectacular — or unless the position I'm hiring for is primarily making charts — a skills bar chart would put me off.




  1. A list of skills, while useful (see below) isn't nearly as important as the rest of the content on your resume. As such...

  2. ...making the list a visual bar chart is going to add emphasis to your skill list which, in turn...

  3. ...will distract from the more important content on your resume.

As for skill-lists, they really only serve a few purposes:

  1. You are applying for an entry-level position and there is a need to show technical competence.

  2. You are applying for a production artist position, where technical skills are the key content on your resume.

  3. To get past HR key-word filters. This is the most common use of skills list. And it's really just a hack to get around arbitrary keyword scanners. For this use, the skill list doesn't have to be visually dominant--merely machine readable.

As for the example resume, it's a nice composition for a page of content, but it's not really applicable to the objectives of what a resume should communicate. Looking at that resume, the two more important bits of content (education and experience) appear to have the least emphasis.

  • wait, are you saying that it's acceptable to use invisible keywords of technologies related to your competence (for instance, "Photoshop" when the only experience you've had is with "GIMP") to get past those stupid filters that drop resumes simply because they don't list every last insanely specific wish list item in the ad description?
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 17:51

It would make more sense to emphasize your skill set using actual words. For example, you could say that you are experienced using GREP style sheets in InDesign, or in creating interactive forms.


I really dislike seeing these on student resumes, because they feel trendy/gimmicky and I question the analytics that go into determining how an entry level designer judges their own competency, with a possibly very myopic view of a given software program. 9/10 on InDesign? Ah, so I'm assuming you are fluent in working in tables, creating custom GREP styles, advanced digital prepress and creating interactive pdfs or e-books. I consider myself pretty competent at the three core apps I use for design - .indd, .psd and .ai - but there are whole areas I just never touch, or work in so infrequently that I would see it as moving that bar away from the high end.

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