Artwork by: Anja Schemeleva-Konovalenko
Adding a summary of qualifications section to your resume helps you showcase your career-related accomplishments to your prospective employer. Learn more on how to write this section.
A summary of qualifications, also known as a qualifications summary, statement of qualifications, resume qualifications, or skills summary includes several achievements that will help you stand out from other job applicants. Typically, this section is placed at the top of your resume; just below the header.
In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into how to write a professional summary of qualifications to showcase your skills and attempt to answer the following commonly-asked questions:
What is a summary of qualifications?
What are examples of a summary of qualifications?
How do you write a summary of qualifications?
The summary of qualifications section places your most relevant skills, achievements, and experiences on top of your resume. This way, when a hiring manager reviews your resume, they will notice this first.
A summary of qualifications is often used instead of a personal statement, traditional summary, or resume objective. This is especially true for job seekers who want to mention their key accomplishments and qualifications in an eye-catching, easy-to-read, bulleted list instead of a traditional paragraph.
Summary of qualifications isn’t all about experience
You can add a summary of qualifications to your resume even if you don’t have sufficient experience. For example, if you have one or more high-level certifications or transferable skills that are relevant to your target job, you can include this information in the summary of qualifications.
If you’re switching to a new industry, you can leverage your summary of qualifications to highlight some of the skills you’ve acquired at your previous jobs that will make you a good fit for your new job. For instance, if you’re switching from finance to marketing, you can talk about a key finance campaign you were a part of. For fresh graduates, a summary of qualifications is a great way to talk about activities, events, and internships that showcase their leadership and team-building skills.
Think about some of the most significant achievements in your previous job roles. This is the type of content that goes into your summary of qualifications.
Here are a few sample summaries for different job roles.
- Conceptualized and created SEO-friendly content for the organization's social accounts.
- Devised writing best practices and developed a new style guide.
- Aided in the development of a comprehensive content calendar for the organization.
Customer service representative
- Successfully resolved 90% of customer complaints through phone calls and emails.
- Reduced customer churn by 20% by responding to all concerns in a timely manner.
- Conducted training and orientation sessions for new hires in the department.
- Facilitated the implementation of a new EMR system to increase overall efficiency by 5%.
- Provided critical care for 150+ patients at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Coached and mentored 10 new nurses on patient management best practices.
- Designed and implemented a go-to-market strategy to increase market penetration by 20%.
- Expanded the organization’s sales operations in the Midwest region.
- Boosted sales by 11% in 2021 and 16% in 2022 and exceeded sales quota by 150%.
- Planned and oversaw the organization’s migration to QuickBooks Online.
- Implemented new cost-cutting measures to improve the organization’s net profits by 20%.
- Responsible for managing a budget of $1.5M.
- Slashed telephone response time by 75% by implementing an automated answering system.
- Designed presentations for senior executives involving year-over-year business growth.
- Completed a Microsoft Office Certification course, scoring 95% in MS Excel.
- Spearheaded a social media campaign that increased lead generation by 7%.
- Assisted the Sales Department in developing a comprehensive sales playbook.
- Conceptualized key marketing campaigns with a focus on increasing engagement.
Whether you’re writing your resume on your own or getting it professionally written, there are a few things you need to know about writing a summary of qualifications.
Pick the strongest four components of your resume and reword them.
Make the content as short and captivating as possible.
Mention the number of years of relevant experience.
Match each bullet point directly to the job requirements.
Make sure the achievement section of the resume is quantified.
When you’re mentioning your key achievements, it’s important to back them with numbers. These numbers make it easier for the hiring manager to determine the impact you made on your previous organizations. This could include the total number of years of experience you possess, the number of people you have managed, the size of the budget you worked with, and/or the amount of revenue you generated.
For instance, instead of saying, “Managed all accounting operations at the organization,” you could say, “Supervised a team of 10 accountants responsible for a budget exceeding $1M.”
Context is important
Adding numbers to your resume is only a part of the equation. If you want to improve your chances of getting hired, you should use the numbers to convey a story. Consider adding a certain timeline as well.
For example, “Increased net sales from $2M in 2020 to $5M in 2021” showcases your leadership skills to the hiring manager, as well as the ability to improve an organization’s bottom line within a short time frame.
Active voice writing has fewer words as compared to passive voice writing. It allows you to communicate your credentials to the reader without making your resume verbose. Also, an active voice makes your summary of qualifications more engaging and reader-friendly.
For example, the following statements convey the same idea. However, it’s obvious that the first statement is shorter, crisper, and more impactful than the second statement. It also shows that you had a clear impact on improving your company’s bottom line.
Active: Increased productivity by 20% in 2022.
Passive: The overall productivity was increased by 20% in 2022.
As a resume best practice, consider avoiding pronouns such as “I”, “my”, “his”, and “hers.” Your focus should be to draw the reader’s attention to your competence, expertise, and accomplishments without being too pompous.
Pronouns are generally considered to be filler words in a resume. Since your resume already has your name on it, it goes without saying that all information and accomplishments mentioned in the document are yours.
Each accomplishment in the summary of qualifications should start with a power verb. Power verbs are action words with a positive meaning. These words indicate confidence, and they help communicate your key accomplishments to the hiring manager in an impactful manner.
Try some of these power verbs in your summary of qualifications.
Spearheaded, transformed, engineered, conceptualized, augmented, devised, implemented, improved, pioneered, reduced, overhauled, established, exceeded, authored, championed, resolved, surpassed, accelerated, executed, illustrated, presented, identified, analyzed.
When you submit your resume to a job application, there’s a high probability that it will be analyzed by an applicant tracking system (ATS). This software looks for specific keywords in your resume that are likely to make you the ideal candidate for the job.
Large companies that receive thousands of resumes tend to have an ATS tool in place that utilizes keyword searches to filter out the right candidates. Typically, these keywords can be found in the job description itself. Make sure your achievement section includes these keywords.
Read between the lines for the keywords
Here is a sample job description for an SEO agency:
We are looking for a Content Manager with a knack for everything digital. You must possess sufficient experience in managing a team of copywriters, in-depth knowledge of white hat SEO practices, and a proven track record of thriving in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.
Some of the keywords from this job posting might include
- SEO best practices
Your summary of qualifications should be uniquely attributable to you. Personalize it as much as you can. Focus on your core strengths, job-specific skills, and accomplishments. Some of the areas you should focus on include the following:
Significant projects completed during the course of your employment, with numbers.
Core areas of expertise and any technical certifications or courses.
Number of years of experience in your field of expertise.
Highest degree achieved (in case you have a postgraduate or higher degree).
Awards, honors, publications, and other types of professional recognition.
Management experience (how many people reported to you)
While your summary of qualifications will depend on your previous experience and target jobs, here are a few things you should consider focusing on.
The first bullet point in your summary of qualifications should focus on your years of experience in the industry. You can talk about your general day-to-day responsibilities and any special courses you have completed. If you’re a fresh graduate, you can talk about your highest degree, your field of study, thesis topic, publication, or anything else that is relevant to the target job.
Talk about any problems you’ve faced at work and how you utilized out-of-the-box thinking to come up with a solution. This is where you should discuss any strategy, plan, or system you designed and/or implemented at work to improve things and streamline operations across the board. Make sure to focus on how the new system improved your organization’s bottom line.
Almost every hiring manager out there is on the lookout for efficient employees. Focus on how you have improved efficiency at your organization. It could be a new incentive plan for your team members, a software solution to automate manual tasks, or even overhauling some of your organization’s existing practices to improve productivity at work.
Mention any awards or accolades you have achieved at work. For example, if you have won the Salesman of the Year Award 2022, make sure to mention it. If you’re applying for a teaching position, talk about any publications or research papers you were involved in.
For most jobs, especially the ones that involve interacting with customers and clients, communication skills are crucial. You can talk about your communication and leadership skills - how you helped close a sale, complete a time-critical project, or motivate your team members to deliver exceptional results.
The most widely used format for a summary of qualifications section is a bulleted list. This type of list is easier for both the ATS and the hiring manager to parse. You should consider using four to five bullet points in your summary of qualifications, and each bullet can be a 2-line sentence. However, since you’re not using any pronouns, it does not have to be a complete sentence. The summary of qualifications must be placed in the top portion of your resume, just after your name and the resume objective.
Adding a summary of qualifications to your resume allows you to present your job-specific skills and technical expertise to the hiring manager as clearly as possible.
Your summary of qualifications must contain the right mix of power verbs, job-related keywords, and industry-specific lexicon.
With the summary of qualifications, your objective is to answer the question, ‘why should we hire you?’
Asad's writing expertise lies in the fields of HR and marketing—putting him in the unique position of understanding the job-search process: both from the side of the applicant, and the side of the hiring managers. With this valuable blend of perspectives, he’s able to help his clients position themselves as top candidates for their desired roles.