What’s the Point of a Summary of Qualifications, Anyway? (Featuring Resume Summary Examples)
Your resume’s summary of qualifications can be an elusive section. Many job seekers write mediocre summaries (or worse, confuse them with objective statements) because they don’t understand the purpose and value. This blog will show both why and how to write a great summary of qualifications.
By: Tonyia Cone | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
First impressions are important, especially on your resume. That’s why your resume’s summary of qualifications is a crucial tool you should use to create an immediate, strong connection with each hiring manager or recruiter you contact.
Why Use a Resume Summary of Qualifications?
The beginning of your resume is your introduction to a recruiter or employer. We agree with many other resume experts that the top of your resume is the most important space on your document.
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That’s precisely why you need a resume summary as the first major section under your contact info and headline. This brief description of your qualifications is best used to summarize your strengths, skills, and the ways they align with each company’s needs.
Think of the summary section as a place to highlight all that you have to offer a company and the reasons you are their ideal candidate. This is in contrast to an objective statement, which doesn’t really add any value to your resume because it only describes your goals.
An engaging, attention-getting summary will set you apart from all the other resumes your hiring managers and recruiters receive. Your summary not only engages these readers, it sets the tone for what’s to come and keys readers in on what to look for in your experience section. This is especially important if you’re changing your career or have a gap in experience. It can help defuse red flags and assumptions about your non-linear career path.
Structuring Your Resume Summary of Qualifications
Here’s some advice that our professional resume writers use to create exceptional resume summaries.
When building your summary, concisely highlight your top two or three hard skills and demonstrate the capacity in which you use them. These should be specific, objective, and relevant to the position, not just generic clichés. This can also be a great place to state your passion or why you are interested in a position if you are transitioning into a new industry or field.
Keep it short — don’t include so much information that the section becomes dense and long. A strong standard summary should be 75-100 words, while an executive-level summary should be 100-175 words.
A resume summary can be in the form of a short paragraph, a few bullet points, or a hybrid of the two:
- Short paragraph style works well for those with some experience under their belt. This format is concise and highlights the client’s skills and accomplishments right off the bat.
- Bullet points can work for almost anyone and are an excellent way to highlight transferable skills in a tactical manner.
- A hybrid format entails a shorter paragraph with two or three bullets underneath that further highlighting your skill set. This is an effective method for executives looking to highlight a career’s worth of highlights and accomplishments.
Strong Summary of Qualifications Examples
Once you decide which of your greatest hits to include in your summary of qualifications, use action verbs in a sentence structure. Here at Let’s Eat, Grandma, our writers generally follow a strict format for their first bullet point:
Descriptive Word + Job Title + Level of Experience + Key Feature in Career
Here’s how I did this on my own resume:
- Deadline-driven writer with 20+ years of experience telling journalistic, marketing, and public relations stories
The remaining bullet points typically follow this format:
Adjective + Position Descriptor + Description of Key Credential
Again, here’s an example of what this looks like on my own resume:
- Inquisitive interviewer who thrives on learning more about the world and the people who live here
Personalize It: Tailor Your Resume Summary for Each Job Description
If you’ve followed Grandma’s Blog or the Career Warrior Podcast for very long, you probably know how important it is to target your resume to every job you apply to. The summary section is an easy place to use keywords from each job description to optimize your resume for recruiters and the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
Read through each job description with an eye for skills the hiring manager emphasizes that match your experience, knowledge, and skillset. Then tell how your experience and expertise matches those areas.
For those changing careers, this section is an ideal place to show the ways your transferable skills align with each company’s needs, even if you developed your strengths years ago or in a different line of work.
Time to Shine
Like a sales pitch or elevator speech, your resume summary gives a first glimpse of the value you bring to a role, and it leaves a lasting impression on hiring managers and recruiters.
You do have great skills and experience, so talk them up in this section to let employers know you are the candidate they are looking for!
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