There are numerous reasons to use a resume template, but if you go that route, it’s important choose a template carefully. It’s common for templates to be loaded with unnecessary elements and features, such as photos and graphics. And today we’re talking about one particular resume template feature you should avoid: skills ratings.
Unlike a typical skills section, some resume templates feature skills ratings with one skill listed per line next to a corresponding space where you rate your own ability level for each skill. These ratings sections are typically on a scale of one to five, one being low and five being high. Stars and circles are the most common shapes used for the scale.
Sometimes people choose to use hard skills, rating themselves on, for example, the various programming languages they know. Others choose to use soft skills or more general skills. In the resume template example below, the candidate has rated herself 5/5 in kindness, but 3/5 in responsibility. How many interviews do you think anyone would get with this resume?
These skills ratings are meaningless at best, and harmful at worst. A hiring manager won’t be impressed by any 5/5 ratings you give yourself. You’re using your resume to try to make a good impression, so your 5/5 could be an exaggeration. If you give yourself perfect ratings across the board, a hiring manager might think you aren’t being honest or realistic. And if you give yourself a mediocre or low rating, that will also send up red flags—if you aren’t good at something, why list it on your resume? The hiring manager might question your judgment.
Also, there’s no way for anyone else to know exactly what you’re basing your rating on. Are you comparing yourself to your current co-workers? To how much your ability has improved over a year, or over a decade? Are you basing your rating on a recent project you completed using a particular skill? Or on how many different types of tasks you can complete using a certain skill?
These skills ratings are all subjective, with no information provided beyond the rating itself. They don’t add any value to your resume, so stick with the traditional skills section. When choosing a resume template, avoid choosing one that uses skills ratings.