Listing software on resumes

This might be a silly question. How do you list software on your resume? Do you list it as “Adobe Creative Cloud” and leave off all the individual programs like InDesign, Photoshop, etc.? Currently, I list mine as just “Adobe CS/CC,” but that might not be an ideal situation because the ATS software that HR uses might want to pick up on those individual programs. Another reason why I don’t list each individual program is to save space, but I could make room if changed some things. My biggest concern is the ATS won’t pick up those keywords.

Because the Adobe Creative Cloud is pushing close to 30 programs now, it may be a best option to list what you are most proficient using. Just listing “Adobe CC” is rather ambiguous.

You don’t need to include the CS/CC letters. Not many companies are still using CS and even if they were, there is no real difference in how the software works, so no need to be redundant.

With Adobe CC including everything from After Effects to InDesign to Premier to Audition to XD to Animate to Illustrator, you probably ought to narrow it down on your resume. For example, you don’t want to imply you’re a motion graphics expert if all you use are layout apps.

Thanks for the replies. I guess the same goes for Microsoft Office. The problem with Microsoft is that I can work in Excel, but I’m no expert in it. I guess I can say that I have a “working knowledge” of Excel. I guess what I’m trying to ask is: How do you know you’re proficient enough in a program to list it on your resume?

But how much does a designer really need to know about Excel? It’s not as though we’re accountants or financial auditors. If you’ve got the basics down, I’d go ahead and list it.

yep, on Excel, mostly you just have to be able to create, read and edit a database. It isn’t accounting unless you are using it for bid purposes. Then it is accounting. And it’s kinda legally binding if submitted with a bid or quotation. But it’s all really just a basic setup. Nothing at all fancy. Though it is helpful to know how to make it interface with variable data functions in InD, what formats you can export and what are the easiest ways to get stuff into a database. Even if it’s tedious tabbed text (groan.)

You don’t need to mention your proficiency for individual tools in your resume if there is a space issue. The better option is to mention each tool and describe your capabilities during your interview if conducted.

I wouldn’t bother with an actual proficiency rating on each software. Those are space wasters. If you think yourself proficient, list it, if not, don’t. The idea is to increase your new boss’s potential bottom line.

This may just be me, but I dislike the current trend I’ve seen where people arbitrarily rank their software knowledge/skills on a progress bar of sorts. The main reason I dislike it, is because it is arbitrary (as mentioned earlier) and it’s self-determined. All it tells me is what you think of your own skills, which, IMO, is not always accurate. You may just be over confident and rank yourself higher than you are, or you may be humble and rank yourself less. Just my 2 cents.

I don’t like it either, and I’ll even so far as to say that it’s counterproductive unless an employer is specifically looking for an expert at a particular software application. Even then, I’d limit it to a simple statement about one’s level of expertise with that software.

A resume should get you in the door to an interview, not go into arbitrary detail about this or that percent of knowledge about something that can’t really be measured anyway. Once in the interview, if the employer wants to go there, great. During the interview, a nice discussion is possible about how much experience one has with this or that software.

Whenever I’ve seen these kinds of bar and pie graphs on resumes, I’ve assumed the designer just thought the graphics were a cool addition to an otherwise dull-looking resume. To me, that line of thinking shows a lack of design discretion in not knowing when to liven things up and when to let them be simple and functional.


Exactly! I think they use it as a crutch. I’m going to rearrange some things on my resume and list them out the ones that are mentioned in the job post. I think that’s best.

Its been a while since I had to do a resumé but I would list the individual pieces of software e.g. PhotoShop, Indesign, Illustrator, because these are what I have skills in. I know next to nothing about for instance After Effects or Premiere and I would not want to give the impression that I do.

So what you’ll want to do is tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. If they use “Adobe Creative Suite” use that, if they use “Adobe Creative Cloud” use that, if they use “Adobe CC” use that, etc. If they list all of the separate programs, list out the ones you know. That way if they’re using an ATS it’ll pick up on those keywords.

Since I wouldn’t hire someone not familiar with Adobe Creative Cloud (and I sure as heck hope they are beyond the Creative Suite, not that it matters much,) I’m far more interested in the software you actually know rather than some amorphous cloud-like thing. You can be specific without being boring. If a job is only asking that you know “Adobe Creative Suite,” you need to get your clues from elsewhere in the description and realize you are dealing with clueless HR.

As a designer, only list Excel if you’re seriously proficient in making good looking themes and graphs in the software, with all the functionalities and settings that come with them. The design aspect counts for a designer, not whether they master all the formulas (which are needed for some graphs though).

Whether or not to list excel depends on the job you are applying for. You don’t design in Excel when you are doing spreadsheets for large job tracking (we use them all the time.) You can make them aesthetically pleasing but time is money, so functional works. And you need to know at least the basic formulas for linking and totaling columns. If/then is helpful too. And knowing how to sort without screwing everything up.

We receive requests for quote in Excel from designers all the time. Someone is doing them. If they don’t send them, they pay us to make them if they want an itemized quote. We’re talking 5-7 figure jobs here, not your standard brochure run. There might be between 20 and 600 individual one-off graphic prints in a large project (think science museum exhibit or theme park wayfinding.) Doing that in a word processor ain’t gonna cut it.

Another aspect of Excel often ignored is they are useful for storing variable data accessed by any number of other programs for production of things like business cards or addressed mailers.

Don’t discount the mundane stuff. If applying here I would expect at least that much familiarity.

©2020 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook