The Professional Touch - How to Write a Qualifications Summary

by Darlene Zambruski, CPRW

Resume Summary of Qualifications

A Qualifications Summary is your first and best chance to make a favorable impression on a hiring manager. It is a marketing tool that sells your unique skills to the targeted company.

To Be Effective, a Qualifications Summary Must...

1) Provide a snapshot of you as the ideal candidate for the position.

2) Be concise and to the point, addressing what expertise you can bring to the job to benefit the prospective employer.

3) Address pertinent qualifications in the job posting.

4) List your most stellar and recent quantified accomplishments that pertains to your current job search.

5) Provide additional data that enhances your candidacy, including:

  • Linguistic capabilities in foreign languages
  • Certifications
  • Licensure
  • Willingness to travel or to relocate for the new position

6) State specific skills, such as computer proficiencies (if applicable).

7) List your past employers if they are well known, i.e. Boeing, Wall Street Journal, Macy's, AT&T, etc.

8) Work Permits or Green Card data for foreign nationals.

What to Avoid When Writing a Qualifications Summary...

1) Use of personal pronouns such as I, my, me, we, us, etc. Resumes are business documents that should employ a conservative tone.

2) Soft skills - i.e. being personable or trustworthy - unless they are backed up by specific data.

  • Soft skills presented in a weak fashion: "Personable individual with proven people skills."
  • Soft skills that are effective and strengthened by quantified results: "Salvaged $6 million VIP account with Pepsi-Cola, Inc. through superior communication and client relations skills."

3) Objectives that are vague and self-serving:

  • "Currently seeking position in which to grow with dynamic organization."
  • "Want to use creativity and skills learned in college."

4) Any data that is superfluous or does not enhance candidacy for targeted position or career, including:

  • Outdated computer skills for an IT professional.
  • A listing of word-processing skills for an executive who would most likely have an administrative assistant to do clerical work.
  • Academic data (i.e. GPAs, Dean's List, Scholarships) for a seasoned professional or an executive.

5) Number of years of employment in the field, unless the job posting specifically requires a set number of years of experience.

  • To avoid age discrimination or the perception of being over qualified for a particular position, it's always best to state "comprehensive" or "significant" experience, rather than the exact number of years.

6) Laundry lists of skills that are assumed for the position - i.e. a CPA is presumed to know AP/AR, bookkeeping, general ledger, reconciliations, taxes, and the like. Providing this data is not telling the hiring manager anything new or relevant.

Before Writing Your Qualifications Summary, Determine...

1) What makes you unique in your given field - i.e. accomplishments, achievements, post graduate degrees, certifications, licensure.

2) What you have to offer the targeted company in terms of past experience.

3) How you meet their qualifications.

The qualifications summary is one of the most important pieces of your resume.  Write it correctly and the hiring managers will call!

Darlene is a CPRW and SME. She is the Managing Editor of ResumeEdge, provider of resume writing services. She has created 10,000+ resumes, cover letters, and business documents for clients in every industry and at every stage of a career from entry-level to CEOs.

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