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How to indicate programming experience on a CV

  1. Jan 30, 2012 #1
    (I'm putting this here as opposed to the Career forum because it's for REU applications)

    I have some experience in C++, MATLAB and R, but I'm not sure how to indicate on the CV how much experience. I'm not an expert in any of them, but I don't know that "beginner" is right either. Years would be misleading too, since I don't program much outside of class and I don't always have classes that require programming.

    Would it be too much to include a brief description of how I've used each language?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2012 #2


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    It's hard to say since I don't know exactly what you are applying for, but here is what I think you should include:

    a) The languages themselves and the platform if necessary (for example for Java no need for platform or .NET)

    b) a simple description of the project that you worked on.

    Don't go into lengthy complex statements about the specifics of the project, just state what the project was about (keep it as simple as possible but no simpler).

    This will add context to your CV because it gives the reader a real idea of what you might know which will give an idea of whether to interview you or not. If you get the interview, then chances are the employer thinks you are a good candidate and your technical ability (among other things) will be tested there.
  4. Jan 31, 2012 #3
    Also one thing that will give an interviewer a good idea of your skills is the number of lines of code you've written, and the number of lines of code there were in the system that you using.
  5. Jan 31, 2012 #4


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    I agree somewhat (especially with the number of lines in the system), but not completely.

    You can have projects that have really really large subroutines and as a result have a lot of complexity, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it is more complex than say a more manageable subroutine that makes calls to a half a dozen to a dozen other systems or libraries that interact with one another.

    If there are strange dependency issues between say libraries or other repositories, then this can cause really major headaches (as you are probably aware of in your job), and I would consider this a lot more challenging to do this right than do something where although the number of lines is huge, is still not as intensive as far as handling all these weird dependency issues that come about.
  6. Jan 31, 2012 #5
    I recently had this same question, when preparing a CV for a physics graduate program. I didn't find a specific answer anywhere, but I ended up wording it something like this:

    Programming Experience
    Proficient with Java, Fortran
    Some experience with C/C++, Perl, Mathematica, Matlab

    and that's about it.

    Of course, it depends on what REU you're applying for. If it's more about programming, you may want to include more details as mentioned in other replies.
  7. Feb 1, 2012 #6
    My programming section looked very similar to bcbwilla and I got some quite decent software eng gigs with it. I also had a bit in my CV intro which described a few projects I worked on. It helps a lot if you mention exactly what you did with the language e.g. "wrote a java SOAP client for project X to integrate the CRM and web portal". Just "I am proficient with java" does not mean much at all unless your job is not programming focussed.

    I have never been asked nor offered how many lines of code I have written nor did I ever ask others how many lines they wrote. I'm guessing some places may ask this however so be prepared for the question.
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