Long gone are the days when a typical resume started with an objective. While the objective is still useful for recent graduates or those with little work experience, the modern resume for an applicant with a few years of job experience should include a summary of qualifications, which is a combination of qualifications and bullet points used to highlight accomplishments and should be customized for each job for which you're applying. Using the summary of qualifications is a ‘hook’ to capture the hiring manager’s interest and clearly show them why you're the best fit for the job and increase your chances of getting an interview.
In this article, we'll discuss the importance of the summary of qualifications on a resume, including
What is a summary of qualifications?
How to create a summary of qualifications
Examples of a qualifications summary
Things to remember
What is a summary of qualifications?
A summary of qualifications is your most relevant experience and skills, tailored for the job you’re applying for. You can also emphasize qualities that you have mentioned in the main part of the résumé. This summary functions as a personal introduction and draws attention to the elements that make you qualified for the job. It is generally placed below your name and contact information at the top of the resume.
Most resumes that hiring managers receive are given no more than a glance, with studies showing that they spend less than seven seconds looking at it. Using a summary of qualifications puts all of your top assets at the beginning, eliminating the need for the hiring manager to hunt for important information. Considering they usually receive hundreds — not thousands — of resumes for each position, a summary of qualifications gives the hiring manager exactly what they need, easily, quickly, and succinctly.
How to create a summary of qualifications
The most important characteristic of a summary of qualifications is that it’s concise, relevant, and utilizes bullet points for easy reader scanning. The first step to take before creating your summary is to make sure it includes the following:
The first bullet points should describe your job title
Choose the strongest elements of your resume (3 to 5 items)
Keep the wording brief and to the point, including how many years of relevant experience you possess
Make sure the bullet point aligns with the job description, and utilize any keywords.
Each achievement should be quantifiable.
Dedicated and compassionate clinical social worker offering 15+ years of experience assisting families and individuals with community outreach, mental health services, and developmental disability advocacy.
Completed 92% of eligibility requests within 10 days of receipt and attained 100% accuracy in determining levels of care for services.
Instituted tools such as modeling techniques and reframing that increased self-esteem concerns and reduced evidence of negative behavior by 80%
Boosted positive outcomes and goals in individual therapy sessions by 75%.
Items included in your summary of qualifications should be written to catch the hiring manager’s eye. It can include awards, accomplishments, the money you've saved the company, efficiencies created, the number of direct reports, and any certifications, degrees, or licenses.
Use measurable or quantifiable data
Instead of writing, “I increased sales,” say, “Generated an 87% sales increase through Member Appreciation Days." Quantifying your resume utilizing precise numbers that provide a more detailed depiction of why you're the best candidate as well as the potential value you bring to the company.
The benefits of utilizing measurable or quantifiable data are
It’s specific. The reader doesn’t have to guess what your accomplishments were.
It’s more impressive and provides credibility to your experience.
Exact numbers establish your focus on results.
Quantifiable data makes you stand out, which increases your chances of being selected for the next round of selection/interviews. When compiling your data, include the following aspects:
Money — how much you saved, earned, or created in profits
How many people you supervised or managed
How long you held a position
Qualifications summary resume: use action verbs
Avoid using personal pronouns such as “I” or “me” in your qualifications summary. Instead, focus on “action verbs.” Using action verbs will help hiring managers see the important and relevant aspects of your resume, and will encourage them to spend more time reading it. Action verbs are more dynamic and establish clear outcomes of your accomplishments. They help the hiring manager visualize the task you’re communicating.
Some examples of active verbs, grouped by skill, include
Management/leadership: administered, supervised, executed, planned, coordinated, oversaw.
Organization: Standardized, arranged, scheduled, maintained, categorized
Financial: Forecasted, developed, adjusted, analyzed, balanced
Creative: Performed, modeled, conceptualized, designed
Research: Identified, studied, surveyed, investigated, tested
Communication: Presented, authored, collaborated, facilitated, persuaded
Assistance: Coached, counseled, aided, volunteered
Technical: Programmed, repaired, maintained, engineered, installed, assembled
Accomplishments: Improved, surpassed, spearheaded, improved, exceeded.
Highlight metrics and focus on results:
Leave out metrics and use words like “I” or “We”:
“Boosted overall attendance at the Peoria Film Festival by 40% through targeted and efficient publicity campaigns”
“I increased the participation in the local film festival.”
“Decreased average Texas IVT Handle Time by two minutes.”
“Due to my participation, we made the Texas IVT Handle Time more efficient.”
Use an active voice
When writing your summary of qualifications, use an active voice, which communicates your accomplishments and draws attention to the subject rather than the action in the sentence.
Active: “Promoted to sales director after six months.”
Passive: “The sales director position was given to me after six months on the job.”
Active: “Reduced managerial costs by 15% over three quarters.”
Passive: “A 15% decrease in managerial costs was created by me over three quarters.”
Align your qualification summary with job keywords
Hiring managers often use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to screen out unqualified applicants. Utilizing keywords in your qualification summary helps your resume stand out and make the first cut. Align your resume for each job you're applying for by tailoring your qualification summary. If you're unsure what keywords to use, look at the job posting and identify words related to the job, such as education, required skills, or relevant experience. Also, include keywords that are specific to your industry. But don’t use too many keywords: overuse can be a red flag and eliminate your resume from consideration.
For example, if you’re applying for a bookkeeper position, the job posting might specify certain skills and experience:
General accounting principles
Financial statement analysis
Proficiency in QuickBooks
Certification with the National Associate of Certified Public Bookkeepers
If you possess the first three qualifications, but not the last, you could include these statements in your summary of qualifications and utilize the necessary keywords:
Eight years of experience in general accounting and financial statement analysis.
Trained staff of six on the use and application of QuickBooks and subsequent software updates.
Working towards a National Associate of Certified Public Bookkeepers certificate.
While you want to highlight your qualifications, it’s important to ensure that the keywords you include are honest and match up with your background and experience.
Put your best foot forward
Create your qualification summary in a way that best showcases your experience and abilities, and make it specific to you.
Basic: “Efficient accountant who assisted in cutting overall company waste by 22%.”
Better: “Dedicated accounting professional who managed a department of ten CPAs and reduced supply costs by 17%.”
What makes the second statement better? It focuses on the candidate’s accomplishments as well as the impact they had on the company, which heightens their trustworthiness and worth. Personalizing the summary of qualifications will demonstrate what makes you exceptional and distinctive from the crowd.
Create a summary of qualifications template
Each statement and bullet point in your summary of qualifications should have a distinct purpose and offer essential data that demonstrates why you’re the right person for the job.
When putting together your summary of qualifications, think about what you want the hiring manager to know. Decide which of the following options is the most germane to your experience and background, limiting yourself to more than five bullet points.
Awards, honors, or other professional recognition
How many years of experience do you have in a field or position
Outstanding accomplishment in a past position, with quantifiable data
Management or supervisory roles, including the number of direct reports.
Area of specials skills, training, or expertise
Synopsis of vital duties or tasks in current job
Degrees obtained, including major, school, and when you graduated (if less than 10 years)
Summary of qualifications examples
While the summaries will vary depending on the industry, below are a few examples that can be tailored to your background and experience.
Senior Sales Associate
Dedicated, results-focused sales leader offering more than twenty years of success directing client management and supervising a staff of twenty salespeople.
Earned first sale after one month of training.
Achieved 135% of sales goal within one month of being assigned to a new territory.
Successfully landed a $350K sale in the first year, which accounted for 60% of personal yearly quota.
Named top sales rep for Western Canada in 2013 and 2014, was bestowed multiple Certificates of Excellence, and received a Top Demonstration award.
Obtained a certification in Public Speaking from Dale Carnegie
Analytical, detail-oriented paralegal offering more than fifteen years of success supporting legal firms with a focus on litigation, personal injury, and medical malpractice.
Successfully negotiated with Medicare and other medical providers to obtain 75-100% decreases in demand amounts.
Designed and maintained an electronic library of corporate trademarks and relevant documents
Created detailed medical graphics for counsel in several class action lawsuits
Technical proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Juris TABS, TortLogic, and LexisNexis
Dynamic, results-oriented financial expert with over twenty years experience driving organic growth, profitability, and asset retention.
Yielded $59.9M of fee-only assets as of the end of the fiscal year 2021.
Directed a book of business worth $4.4B in the Consultant, Bank-Trust, Investment Advisor, and Broker-Dealer channels.
Operated as primary contact for growth, client service, and financial goals spanning a twenty-two-state region.
Obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from The College of Wooster, Wooster, OH, and a CIMA® certification from the Wharton School of Business
Use descriptive, fact-based language: "Analyzed and fact-checked all legal documents for a twenty persona law firm specializing in medical malpractice and identifying inaccuracies and miscalculations.”
Be too vague: “I handled all documents relating to a case.”
Things to remember for a resume summary of qualifications
In a nutshell, if the hiring manager reads nothing but your summary of qualifications, he or she should still have a solid, clear idea of who you are as a candidate and what you bring to the table and should serve as a map to the rest of your resume. Don’t give that hiring manager a reason to dismiss your resume — pique their interest at the beginning of your resume and encourage them to keep reading. Don’t use broad, non-specific statements, such as "I am organized and work well with others." Potential employers want to know what makes you unique and get a sense of who you are in the summary section of your resume.
Don’t forget soft skills that align with the position you’re applying for. If you’re seeking a call center manager position, you might state, “Adept at resolving customer service issues in a supervisory role.” Hiring managers appreciate soft skills because they contribute to job success. Technical skills are important, but if they don't possess time-management or interpersonal communication skills, they might not be successful in the role.
When creating your summary of qualifications, you don't want to turn it into a lengthy treatise describing every job title and position you've ever held. But be sure to concisely note the skills, experience, and education you possess that are relevant to the job position. And while you do want to use the job posting’s keywords and requirements in your summary, you shouldn’t copy the job requirements note for note in your summary. Consider it an “elevator pitch,” summarizing the value and experience you would bring to a potential new employer.
When it comes right down to it, an informative summary of qualifications can help capture a hiring manager’s attention before it gets tossed in the “no, thank you” pile. A strong resume, including an effective and well-written summary of qualifications, can help you stand out, show your value, and give you the best chance at landing the job you want.
A summary of qualifications is a combination of qualifications and bullet points used to highlight your accomplishments and should be customized for each job for which you're applying.
An effective summary of qualifications should utilize quantifiable data, use industry keywords, be written using active verbs, and avoid the passive voice.
You should create your qualification summary in a way that best showcases your experience and abilities, and make it specific to you.