A qualifications summary section of a resume (also known as a “Qualifications Profile”) is an optional customized section at the beginning of the resume that lists key achievements, skills, experience, and your qualifications that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying.
The typical hiring manager or recruiter, tasked with reviewing dozens — if not hundreds — of job applications, typically spend no more than six minutes reading submitted resumes. One of the advantages of including a summary of qualifications on your resume is that this is a great tool to catch the reviewer’s eye within that critical six-second purvey.
If you decide to incorporate a summary statement, it should include a brief list of the highlights of your candidacy. This summary should be placed at the top of your resume, right under your name and contact information.
Summary of Qualifications
A resume summary is a statement that encompasses your skills, abilities, professional expertise, and what makes you most suitable for the position.
It’s important to take the time to write a career summary that is a strong match with your jobs of interest. Much like a cover letter, it is beneficial to modify and tailor your summary to target the specific needs of each employer. You do this by closely reading the qualifications requested for a specific job advertisement and then designing your summary to echo these desired skill sets.
Completing your resume with a summary of qualifications, or career summary will personalize your resume. Reviewing resumes can become tedious, so beginning yours with a description of your unique career path and the skills you have attained is a great way to spark the reader’s interest and encourage them to consider you for the interview process.
- Job Seekers With Experience
A summary statement works especially well for people with a significant amount of experience. It is an effective way to showcase the experiences that best speak to the qualifications an employer is seeking.
- Recent Graduates
Resume summary statements are also an effective tool for recent college graduates.
- New graduates should tailor the statement to highlight relevant skills and experience for each opportunity they apply for.
- Career Changers
Career changers can show transferable skills on the qualifications profile and prevent their most recent and possibly unrelated experience from throwing off the hiring manager.
Some of the key elements of a summary statement can include indicating your career direction (as opposed to “objective”), highlighting the amount of relevant experience you have, and mentioning the qualifications that will separate you from other candidates.
Note: Although at one time it was popular for job candidates to include their personal “career objective” at the beginning of a resume, this is now generally discouraged because it places a subtle emphasis upon the candidate’s desires as opposed to the employer’s needs. Rather than writing a “career objective” (“This is the job I want”), it is more effective to use a qualifications summary (“These are the skills and talents I can bring to your organization”).
You can also include career and personal achievements, work styles, and personality traits (also called “soft skills”) that are consistent with the position for which you are applying.
Your summary can be short and catchy or longer with more information. Here are examples of both.
- Production assistant for nationally broadcast television series
- Five years of case management experience
- Initiated a 50% increase in SEO
- Experienced marketing executive
- Certified workforce development professional
- Seasoned sales professional
- Award-winning sports writer
Sample Expanded Career Summaries
“Dynamic entrepreneur who utilizes creativity, leadership, and teamwork to design and execute solutions that create customer value. Effective communicator with the ability to create marketing materials that convey value for both clients and end users.”
“Experienced professional with planning and organizational skills that balance work, team support and ad-hoc responsibilities in a timely and professional manner.”
“Business development executive with years of experience in technical sales, sales management, team leadership, and business growth and expansion. Proven ability to generate sales and revenue.”
“Experienced professional with a unique combination of technical expertise, managerial experience, business leadership, and design and production support to lead the delivery and implementation of mission-critical software systems.”
“Significant experience with AIX, HP/UX, Windows, VB.NET, C#, .NET Framework, C, C++, SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, and business systems.”