Creating a Qualifications Summary

By Joe Stein

In the world of creating resumes, you would think that there wasn’t much left to change in the area of formatting. However, there is occasionally a new trend that bears watching and one of the newer ones is the creation of a Qualifications Summary.
 
A Qualifications Summary is a section near the top of your resume that states why you are the ideal candidate for the position you are applying for. The Summary generally lies just under your Objective Statement and before your listing of work experience. Some people for the sake of brevity, may choose to use a Qualifications Summary as a substitute for the Objective Statement, but that is not a requirement.
 
The style of your Qualifications Summary can differ slightly based on your preference. Some prefer a narrative style of three or four statements while others may format the section as a series of bullet points in the form of a list. I personally like a combination of both with a core statement regarding your skills and accomplishments followed by some key bullet-points.
 
In this section make statements about your areas of expertise, key accomplishments, credentials, or really anything relevant that will grab the attention of the reviewer. The idea with having this section near the top is to create some level of interest where the rest of the resume will then be read.
 
Why Should a Qualification Summary be considered?
 
  • An Opportunity For You As a Job Seeker to Sell Yourself – It is easy, on a resume, to get in the rut of regurgitating the facts of your experience. A resume should be more than just listing where you worked and when. The Qualifications Summary provides you an avenue to do a little selling.
 
  • Provides a Quick Attention-Grabber – Remember when a Recruiter or Hiring Manager is reviewing your resume, he or she is not just scanning it for your qualifications, but also how it compares to the other applicants. The goal is to draw the attention of the resume reviewer in the 7 to 10 seconds they will invest in an initial review.
 
  • Concise Match of Skills v. Need – We will address this more below, but the summary provides an easy assessment tool for the reviewer.
 
  • Point of Reference for Further Review – For the Recruiter or Hiring Manager they now have a point of reference regarding your career, which will allow them to more intelligently review your work experience.
 
  • Establishes Key Message – A lot has been written about branding yourself during your job search. The Qualifications Summary allows you to plant key messages about yourself to the reviewer, therefore assisting you with your branding.
 
  • Reinforces Accomplishments – Anytime you can state what you have achieved, it is a good thing. This section provides another opportunity to make reference to one or two of your major accomplishments.
 
When writing your Qualifications Summary, place yourself in the position of the Recruiter or Hiring Manager. What do you think they would be interested in reading? What do you think would grab their attention about you? Whatever your answers are should be the focus of your summary. Target the summary towards the position you are applying for by focusing on the needs of the position and matching this with your qualifications. If you have any doubt regarding the impact of your summary, then have a mentor, family member, or friend review your resume and ask them whether the summary gives them a reason to keep reading.
 
There are a few occasions when the Qualifications Summary should not be used. If you are seeking an entry-level position and have limited experience, the summary will lack the substance necessary to be a stand-alone section. Also, if you already have a lengthy resume, adding a summary section may make your document appear even more overwhelming to a time-strapped reviewer. Also be conscious of being redundant; don’t repeat yourself verbatim, later in the experience portion of your resume.
 
A job search is like jumping a series of hurdles each one of them crucial to being selected for the desired position. The goal of the Qualifications Summary is to compel the reviewer to read the rest of your resume. After that, the hope is that your entire resume will serve to obtain an interview. A savvy Job Seeker will construct a summary that will grab the interest of the reader to review the rest of the resume.
 
 

As always, best of luck in your job search.

Feel free to contact me regarding questions or comments at:
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