Describing your skills
List your skills, providing evidence and context where you can.
- TAILOR IT List your relevant technical skills. You could classify them into (for example) programming languages, operating systems, frameworks, front/back-end, hardware, tools and specific software applications. The classification you use will depend on the job you're applying for. A software engineer or web developer role will require a different emphasis to a DevOps / sysadmin role. Likewise, if your calling in life is to design integrated circuits, your CV will look very different from a Computer Science student going for Business Analyst (BA), Consultancy, Data Scientist, Technical Analyst, User Experience Design (UXD) or Project Management roles.
- POPULARISE IT Did you mention all of the popular languages you have used? See, for example, the The 2017 Top Programming Languages and the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Lots of students forget to mention SQL on their CV
- SOFTEN IT Remember you have soft skills as well as your technical skills. These are just important as your hard skills, so don't forget to mention them. Negotiation, leadership, conflict resolution, communication, presenting, writing & mentoring etc - all important, see examples at git.io/verbsfirst
- CLASSIFY IT It can sometimes be useful to classify your technical skills by the level of experience (beginner, intermediate, expert) or how long you've been using them (1 week, 1 year, 10 years etc). It's also essential to say a bit about what you've used them for, as its all to easy to list skills you don't actually have. It can be tricky to classify your technical skills sensibly as they all overlap. You might find the classification used in thoughtworks.com/radar useful:
- Techniques: Agile, Test-driven, Waterfall etc
- Tools : Git, Eclipse etc
- Platforms: Linux, Android, macOS, Windows, Amazon Alexa etc
- Languages & Frameworks: Java, Python, Bootstrap, Angular etc
- GENERALISE IT As a computer scientist, you also have demonstrable “meta” skills like the ability to learn things quickly - either self-taught or learning from peers. You can also think logically, reason, problem solve, analyse and abstract - often to tight deadlines. Again, these are future-proof skills that will last longer than whatever technology is fashionable today. Employers are often more interested in these “meta” capabilities and your potential than in specific technical skills.
- BADGE IT Rember you can add any badges badges.cs.manchester.ac.uk to your digital profile (e.g. LinkedIn)
- SCIENCE BIT Don't forget to mention fundamental principles (the “science bit”) you have learned as well as specific tools (the engineering & technology). Technologies come and go very fast - but the principles you have learned on your degree that will set you up for your career for many years to come. Fundamental concepts in Computer Science like computation, architecture, OOP, algorithms, design patterns, operating systems, security and networks don't change as quickly as the technology does - so make sure you mention them. As Computer Science students, you are both engineers AND scientists, that's two degrees for the price of one!