1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Self-Taught Skills on CV

  1. Nov 9, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I recently taught myself Microsoft Excel, and I have no problem putting that on my cv because Excel is simple, and anyone can teach themselves Excel up to an intermediate level at least.

    But, I also want to learn some programming languages, like Java, C, etc. I suppose I can get basic, and maybe intermediate, skills in a language, or programming/computers in general. If I then put that on my cv will employers care about that? Or do they want you to have taken computer science courses at university (which I didn't)?

    So will it be worth my time trying to learn some languages on my own, or what should I do? For the moment I'm not really interested in programming/computers for its own sake, but merely to improve my cv. That said, I don't actually know anything about programming/computers, so once I start I may actually enjoy it, who knows.

    I suppose the question applies to any other thing you teach yourself, not just programming.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2012 #2
    What you might do is write a cool program with C++. Then you can put it on your CV and you can say you wrote that with C++. That way, they will know how much you know.
  4. Nov 9, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If you're not looking for a programming job, but for a job where programming knowledge might be useful, then it's worth putting on your CV.

    If you're looking for a programming job, then you're going to need real classes, or at least real certifications, or job experience, with military experience being the most likely case of having the experience, but not the certifications, since they train their own at their own schools. In other words, writing some programs at work just to make your primary job easier doesn't really count as programming experience. (Neither does playing around on a Commodore 64 or I'd be able to say I had programming experience - but it sure made the few programming and computer courses I took pretty easy.)
  5. Nov 9, 2012 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Is it a job requirement? Don't clutter up your CV with things that don't matter for the job to which you are applying. You will want to tweak your CV according to the job you are applying for.
  6. Nov 9, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Something to consider; happened to me. In my case, it wasn't on the CV as such but, I played up my knowledge of being able to troubleshoot office issues. As a result, I was offered a part-time job training software users one-on-one which I accepted. Well, the first client wanted to know the more advance macro programming stuff and I failed miserably.

    Be careful,
  7. Nov 9, 2012 #6
    Put that under Technical Knowledge/Skills section, you never know what employers might be looking for. Just FYI 99% of companies have world filters which check the resumes and they are looking for key words, always put Microsoft software as MS Excel etc.
  8. Nov 10, 2012 #7
    You mean put the actual code in my cv? Wouldn't that take up quite a bit of space? And they might suspect you didn't actually do it yourself.

    When I look at job advertisements, many say they require a knowledge of certain languages, although they may not be actual programming jobs.

    I've also looked at getting certificates, but they are generally expensive, at least for me. (Btw, I'm not in the USA)

    Lol, my cv is short enough as it is, under 2 pages for the full cv! I thought I needed more skills to stand a better chance, even if they don't actually specify you need those skills. It can't hurt can it?

    Well, I learnt Excel from a website, and they give you exercise to do, and I got them right. I can do intermediate Excel stuff on my own now, and you can tell you know Excel because the outcomes are correct. The website states that once you are done with their course you are at the intermediate level:
    And Excel really is simple. But thanks for your concern.

    Thanks! That will definitely come in handy.:biggrin:
  9. Nov 11, 2012 #8
    i would definitely suggest getting a certification then putting that on the certification.
  10. Nov 12, 2012 #9
    I have done a little research on certificates, like the various Comptia ones, Microsoft certificates, Sun Java Certificates, and some others, and like I said in my previous post, they are a bit expensive for me, so I will need to consider them carefully first, if I really want to spend that much money. I have a hard enough time just buying the books I need and want.
  11. Nov 12, 2012 #10


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    I would have to respectfully disagree with the other posters about getting the various certifications, since most employers that I have worked don't generally think too highly of them on its own.

    To the OP -- as far as programming skills that you have self-taught, you have to determine for yourself how comfortable you are working on large software projects with the programming language that you have taught, where you would have to often augment or review other people's code. If you feel that your level of knowledge will allow to step into such a role, I would definitely add it into your CV under Technical Skills.
  12. Nov 12, 2012 #11
    Along the same lines as the original post.

    Something that you can do which is viewed as heavier would be working on open-source. I have done some on C++ and is more impressive than having taken an introductory course. Not to say that intro course doesn't increase credibility.

    I would say if only using the internet from home, with no money spent, do open-source class and then work on open-source development or make something and put it on source. In terms of math or chem or physics classes and such: I don't know (based on my personal experience).
  13. Nov 12, 2012 #12
    I read reply above about IT certs -- they are a must if you already have people connections and just need to get in. If you are only resting on the certs alone (eg microsoft, server, ccna etc) they won't do too much. Too many people already have tons of certs.
  14. Nov 13, 2012 #13
    Yeah, I have a few IT certifications myself (microsoft, cisco, sap). Microsoft was required by an employer for a job I previously held. SAP is also requirement for my current job and my employer paid for, but certifications in general aren't going to help a ton. At least not the way experiences you are able to talk about can help.

    If you're a career "rookie", I'd also be careful what kind of technical expertise you feign. It's far more important to have the right kind of attitude and a bit of technical expertise than feign massive amounts of understanding. I can't always say what the right attitude is, but for me it was just an understanding that I would contribute where I could (even if it was boring work), learn the business and hopefully contribute more over time.
  15. Nov 14, 2012 #14
    Well, it's starting to sound like it's not such a good idea to bother with it. Learning a language up to decent level will pretty much take forever. And you probably need to know several languages. So it doesn't seem like I should bother.

    Thanks for the advice everyone.
  16. Nov 14, 2012 #15


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    Frankly, you are taking the wrong lessons from the advice you are receiving on this thread. Learning a computer language on your own is valuable in its own right, and absolutely necessary if you intend to work in any form of software development (most computer scientists and engineers often need to acquire an understanding of several computer languages in their line of work).

    Now the question becomes whether it is necessary to obtain the various certifications from Microsoft, Sun, etc or is being self-taught sufficient. My opinion, which I'm sticking with, is that the certifications are a money grab -- they don't even have the status of an actual degree or diploma. The only time these certifications are of any use is either if the job being advertised specifically states it as a requirement or as a means of developing connections while you are in the class.

    Therefore, teaching yourself the language is more than sufficient, and if you feel like you have a decent command of the language (enough so that you can do actual work in the language when asked), you can and should put it on your CV. Of course, having a way to demonstrate your skills in your language can only help, so I'd recommend working on some open source projects in the language of your choice if at all possible.
  17. Nov 14, 2012 #16
    You should learn a programming language, it's just a certification exam isn't the best way to learn a language.

    Build something. It doesn't have to be perfect or terribly complex (shouldn't be the garden variety stuff from an intro CS course though). Learn a language and make a program that interests you. Then you have something to talk about when people ask you what you did with those technical skills.
  18. Nov 15, 2012 #17
    I don't think so - if you did no courses, but can prove you used in your job to write good software that others used it could be enough (or if not your job, some kind of open source project - e.g. a friend of mine wrote a hike planning sw for a very large local hiking group that was used for many years by them, which got him is current job in IT, despite having no programming qualifications)
  19. Nov 15, 2012 #18
    I have no idea what open source is, so I'll have to look into it.

    That's a good idea. I obviously don't know just yet what sort of project I can do, I suppose I'll only know once I know a bit about programming.

    Sounds like I just have to show I can do something useful in a language, which may be enough.

    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    Lastly, are there any languages you can recommend I should learn? Or is that question too broad? When I was looking at job adverts the most common languages I saw were (in no particular order):

    c, c#, c++, .net, microsoft.net, sql, oracle, java, sas, html, xml, ajax, python, acl, php, cache,...

    and some others. Any suggestions? I really don't know where to start, just to learn some general programming skills.
  20. Nov 15, 2012 #19
    Those are all really different languages, used for very different applications....depends what you want to do really.

    e.g. html is used to make webpages which is really different to writing databases (mysql) or developing scientific software, games software etc (often C++).

    I think you should think about what kind of IT job you want and then work out what kind of skills you need.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook