Ask DN: Can we stop putting percentages next to our skills?

over 8 years ago from , Designer sulko.co

Not only it lowers the designer's potential but also sounds a bit odd.

Designer: I know 62% CSS Interviewer: Sorry we are looking to hire 63% CSS and up. Designer: I will try to increase my skill to 63% CSS for the next interview. Interviewer: See you next time.


  • Geoff YuenGeoff Yuen, over 8 years ago

    I'm in 83% agreement with this post.

    83 points
  • Tyrale BloomfieldTyrale Bloomfield, over 8 years ago

    I say leave them.

    They are a good indicator of where you are in your career.

    If you choose to put a percentage of anything, you are kindly showing the rest of us you have no idea what you are doing.

    22 points
  • Derryl CarterDerryl Carter, over 8 years ago

    I'm 64% sure that someone started that as a joke. Then a whole generation of design students used it in their portfolios because they thought s/he was serious

    10 points
  • Clark WimberlyClark Wimberly, over 8 years ago

    Are people still doing that? I only remember seeing it in entry-level portfolios/sites and that was years ago.

    9 points
  • Paul MacgregorPaul Macgregor, over 8 years ago

    This is up there with the entirely pointless 'how i work' icons put in as a space filler on portfolio sites.

    Talk > Think > Design

    Well, thank fuck for that then, much prefer to hire someone that thinks.

    Having said that, we use a 3 star skill rating on OnSite - Basic, Intermediate and Expert. It's not ideal, but there is a huge difference between someone that knows a little CSS and someone that knows all the CSS (or 100% of the CSS).

    6 points
  • Lloyd WonderLloyd Wonder, over 8 years ago

    The Worst Portfolio Ever

    4 points
    • Nick MorrisonNick Morrison, over 8 years ago

      In this "Worst Portfolio Ever", what is the downside of showing your design process in your portfolio or am I missing something?

      1 point
      • Eric HuEric Hu, over 8 years ago

        It's the way the process is shown. There's nothing meaningful of a depiction of sticky notes where you can't even read the text. It's generic and says nothing of what actually went into it. Think of it like a picture of your computer or a stock photo of two business men shaking hands in order to show "business!"

        It's better to talk about process on a case by case basis.

        1 point
        • Nick MorrisonNick Morrison, over 8 years ago

          Ahhh. Makes much more sense. I was thinking of it as a slight against using process in case studies but I see now that it was meant in the general sense.

          Thanks for the breakdown.

          0 points
      • Lloyd WonderLloyd Wonder, over 8 years ago

        Yep, my bad, I didn't include the blog post that went along with this.

        The worst porfolio ever

        1 point
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    I don't take them as some statement of objective fact. I'd have to be silly to take them that way. Or just mighty pedantic.

    I take them as expressions of confidence with a given tool or skill. I also take them as easy to take in at a glance, and a decent way to break up a lot of text while showing a bit of aesthetic style.

    But can we stop doing it? I hope so, not because I dislike pseudo-quantified skill levels, but because they do get repeated a lot. And that leads to what I really wish would stop: snarky 'can we stop doing [x]?' headlines that are all grouse and no fix.

    2 points
  • Ryan MurphyRyan Murphy, over 8 years ago

    100% Legend.

    2 points
  • John Doe, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Let me try and break it down.

    63% is the equivalent of saying 63/100, 0.63 and displaying a 63px bar in a 100px tall histogram. Percentages have the same weighting in terms of usefulness as a histogram, but they are displayed visually. As you probably already know, recruiters don't spend much time reading pages of paragraphs of text on a resume. Charts (derived from tabular data) are much more easier, compact and faster to digest than rows and columns of text.

    Unless you want to get philosophical, displaying skills quickly and accurately on a 1 page resume is extremely difficult. In fact, displaying anything accurately on a resume is a challenge. That's why companies have interviews so that they can make sure candidates prove what they state on their resume is accurate via the company's own standards.

    On a typical resume, most people would state that they are skilled/experienced/proficient/knowledgeable/trained/ in a app or skill such as CSS. But what does that even mean? Experienced relative to what? Are they stating that they are experienced with writing the syntax or that they are experienced with solving real problems using CSS? CSS is useless by itself. How skilled are they relative to HTML or JS? Knowing the syntax and solving problems are 2 different things. That's why it's recommended to practice coding rather than read it when learning as you gain experience through trial and error and dedication.

    There are so many ways to interpret the same thing. 63% is no more vague than writing the word 'experienced'. Plus I was trying to do something different :) I created a social infographic that displayed the average number of a skill based on the user's ranking and their colleagues ranking as explained below:

    • Dustin's CSS rank: 7/10
    • Colleague 1 rank on Dustin's CSS: 6/10
    • Colleague 2 rank on Dustin's CSS: 8/10
    • Average total rank: 7/10 | 0.7 | 70/100 | 70px/100px

    If there is a better solution for displaying your skills accurately in the smallest amount of space and in the shortest amount of time...please do let me know. Also, 63% is a ranking number. Google PageRank and Facebook EdgeRank do the exact same thing when showing relevant content.

    Related Links:


    2 points
  • Ricardo MagalhãesRicardo Magalhães, over 8 years ago

    While I agree that just writing down a percentage number next to it means absolutely nothing, I believe that most people (employers, probably) see it more as a number of personal confidence in that person's ability to work with that particular skill.

    If I state that my Python level is 70% and my Graphic Design skills at 55%, that I'm probably more of a coder than a designer, while still stating that I care much for design.

    It's an interesting challenge though, to find a clear visual way of representing these concepts, but I do believe that the most accurate representation would be to express levels of your own personal confidence on a particular skill.

    1 point
  • Adam Brace, over 8 years ago

    Total upvote, I fucking hate this.

    1 point
  • Account deleted over 8 years ago

    Defenitly not, and if so what would 100% be like?

    1 point
  • Dan LeeDan Lee, over 8 years ago

    It doesn't make any sense to use % and is extremely relative. It only makes sense if there was an official standard to measure against. I can't see how that could ever be put in place due to the nature of building for the web - the boundaries are always being pushed (and at such a fast pace).

    0 points
  • Alex CornellAlex Cornell, over 8 years ago

    Yep completely agree. This is a remarkably useless thing to include on your portfolio. As mentioned above, this and other bad habits will be on display here, forever:

    The Worst Portfolio Ever http://theworstportfolioever.com

    0 points
  • Smail SmajkicSmail Smajkic, over 8 years ago

    This is ten percent photoshop, twenty percent skill Fifteen percent concentrated power of will Five percent css, fifty percent html And a hundred percent reason to forget this shit.

    0 points
  • Stephen Piercey, over 8 years ago

    Reminds me of a tweet from back in March I made.


    0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 8 years ago

    This is the most silly thing ever. All the information of the world is at one Google search and we price the ammount of memory one has to remember all the CSS attributes? It's silly.

    This was important in the past, when Internet wasn't available and memory can be a winner in some situations, remembering all the formulas, things, but now, you only need skill to implement rather to memorize some spec.

    If I have to measure someone, I wouldn't do it this way, I would test his creativity and his attitude towards some problems. I don't care if he cheats reading books or ask for other profesionals.

    0 points
  • Oskar GdaniecOskar Gdaniec, over 8 years ago

    Another not very smart stuff is writing list of you skills and programs you use.

    Like: - HTML/CSS - Photoshop - Indesign

    Let's make us portfolio showing our skills, like 'Last works'

    0 points
  • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, over 8 years ago

    I almost put a line on my portfolio that said "Data Visualization 0%"

    0 points
  • Suleiman Leadbitter, over 8 years ago

    I've never understood that trend. It's like saying either you aren't 100% or you will never be at 100% which means there is no more you can learn :/

    0 points
  • Oscar MarceloOscar Marcelo, over 8 years ago

    Yes, please!!

    This is a dumb thing! Unless there is some reference, there's no point on measuring skills!

    One can say they know 80% of Photoshop, but he actually knows as much as another who says that knows just 25%...

    The only thing I agree having measured is the language knowledge, where there is CEFR, an international guideline to describe a person's language knowledge, which goes from A1 to C2. This is the only thing that got measured in my portfolio/CV.

    0 points
  • c kizerc kizer, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Yes for the love of god. If you do this on your resume we immediately threw them all out.

    There's is no reason to highlight the fact that you suck in some areas. It doesn't do anything to visually represent this.

    What does 72% proficient at HTML mean? It means you suck at writing resumes.

    Please stop doing this if you plan to get a job. Sorry to be so harsh, but damn this is my biggest pet peev!

    0 points
  • Daniel AlbuquerqueDaniel Albuquerque, over 8 years ago

    What exactly is 100% of a skill anyways? I don't believe that exists.

    0 points
  • Alex ColemanAlex Coleman, over 8 years ago

    Since it's self-qualified, it's also just entirely arbitrary. Who are you, or I, to say that you/we're 100% skilled at CSS? It'd be much more helpful to give a quick list of what you're capable of doing in that area (e.g. can translate design files to CSS3; build custom WP themes, etc.).

    0 points
  • Juan SolanoJuan Solano, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    This could be actually posible if there was an standard test we could validate our knowledge with. So is not up to oneself to define how much do i know of something, but if you get certified or something.

    I know many designers find infographics to be the panacea of visual design and I do like them too.

    I have interviewed people with such a bar/porcentage self evaluation and have found handy to know which of the skills they mention they think they are strong. Then again i don't take it as the holy truth and not as literal as the post.

    0 points
  • Cory W.Cory W., over 8 years ago

    Seems like another small example of the quantified, computer-beings a lot of people are pushing towards. Points! Badges! Scores! Games!

    It doesn't mean anything unless there's a number, guys.

    0 points
  • Jonathan CutrellJonathan Cutrell, over 8 years ago

    I'd say it's about time to go with resumés that explain skill acquisition ability more than current skill levels.

    That being said, I think there's something to be said for, "I do this more than this, but I do both very well."

    0 points
  • Jared CJared C, over 8 years ago

    Or even worse, random bar/pie charts of skills. Please stop that.

    0 points
  • Joseph BarrientosJoseph Barrientos, over 8 years ago

    what about without the numbers? Is that still the same?

    I like to show my skill set in reference to eachother with bars, so I use sketch app and adobe CC as my reference points so that everything else is how much less I understand in comparrison.

    not sure if that makes sense lol

    0 points
  • Emily SaforrianEmily Saforrian, over 8 years ago

    Moreover, I'm surprised by the people who do this and then put a single sentence down for each job description. I think it's really easy to make your resume look good if you remove everything but then what good is your resume doing?

    That being said, I'm not a hiring manager. Does anyone know for a fact if resumes that look good yet are devoid of information work well?

    0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 8 years ago

    How can you possible measure the percentage of a language? It's near impossible.

    0 points
    • Juan SolanoJuan Solano, over 8 years ago

      Well, there are tests like IELTS or TOEFL that measure your English Language Proficiency, and they do it with -- guess what -- numbers.

      1 point
      • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 8 years ago

        No that kind of languages, :/ and yes, there are tests for almost everything but to show some sort of proficiency. I don't understand why we should memorize the entire spec for a test when you have it at one Google search result.

        0 points
        • Juan SolanoJuan Solano, over 8 years ago

          haha, ok i totally misunderstood you, since some people put spoken languages in their resume. But what do you think about this kind of tests being applied to software development and design?

          0 points
  • Casey BrittCasey Britt, over 8 years ago

    One of my pet peeves. Glad I'm not alone.

    0 points
  • Ben TinsleyBen Tinsley, over 8 years ago

    I didn't know this was a thing. I have heard the whole "on a scale of one to ten how would you rate your skill in x?" in interviews, but has never been too granular.

    Where did this happen to you or where have you seen it?

    0 points
  • Cory W.Cory W., over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )


    -1 points