1. What is a Qualifications Summary?
Writing a Qualifications Summary is the simplest way to increase your chances of nabbing an interview. First, let’s take a look at what they look like.
View these examples:
How is it that this style of resume can improve your chances of getting an interview so dramatically?
It’s true for several reasons.
Fresh, Unique Appearance
Firstly, they’re fairly unusual to see, giving your resume a fresh and clean appearance to bleary-eyed hiring managers. The reason that they’re unusual is because most people simply haven’t heard about them — because they lacked the curiosity to find out! So congratulations, you’re now in on a secret hidden in plain sight!
A Powerful Introduction
Secondly, writing one forces the hiring manager to pay attention to your resume because it packs a powerful punch. The first thing the hiring manager will see are all of your greatest achievements and skills, all of which are directly related to the job posting they need filled. You can compare the QS to a diamond hidden in a rock — you need to sand away the coarse edges and present the valuable gem of your work experience at the top.
A Modern Approach
Finally, it gives your resume a higher chance of passing through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software, which is used to screen out irrelevant candidates based on the content of their resumes. Explained briefly, it allows you to put a higher concentration of relevant keywords and key phrases in your resume, ensuring that it earns a “passing grade” and actually reaches human eyes.
2. INFOGRAPHIC: How to Write a Qualifications Summary
It should cover your greatest career achievements, presenting you as a well-rounded candidate with multifarious talents. As I stated earlier, the Qualifications Summary is similar to a gem, and its structure is similar. Gems have many different shining facets, and so do your skills and achievements. Presenting the best of each facet, combined into a unified whole, completes the gem.
Use this as a guide for writing your own. Consider each category a facet of your gem. Try to think of examples from your work history that fall under each major heading.
The key here is to take THE BEST examples from your work experience, and put them in the Qualifications Summary.
3. More Qualifications Summary Examples
A Qualifications Summary is a list of 6 bullet points displaying a range of your most impressive achievements. It is placed at the top of your resume, in place of the Career Objective. It is a powerful tool, designed to satisfy Applicant Tracking System software, and grasp the attention of the hiring manager. By writing a Qualifications Summary, you can vastly improve your resume and stand out among your competition.
Here are two more examples, from different industries. One is written for an executive secretary, the other for a waiter. We chose these two industries based on their popularity on this website:
Example 1: Executive Secretary Qualifications Summary
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY | EFFICIENT – ORGANIZED – ATTENTIVE
- Managed 4 employees in an executive office, maintaining an atmosphere of exactness, efficiency, and attention to detail
- Designed and implemented efficiency programs aimed at streamlining direct office services, saving $150,000 per year in labor costs
- Analyzed and condensed incoming data from various clients and customers, writing 1,500 word reports twice a week for our CEO
- Organized company outings, dinners, and retreats, increasing company satisfaction by 9% according to our yearly employee satisfaction survey
- Earned the 2013 “Outstanding Achievement Award” in a company of 200+ people
Example 2: Waiter Qualifications Summary
WAITER | CHARISMATIC – EFFICIENT – KNOWLEDGABLE
- Managed a 3 table section totaling 25 seats in a fast-paced Italian diner, requiring quick thinking, efficient planning, and strong people skills
- Leveraged a depth and breadth of wine knowledge to up-sell $150 in wine sales nightly on average, by explaining to customers ideal wine and entree pairings.
- Consistently received 5 star reviews from an online rating system, with accompanying praising comments about my service
- Alleviated customer disputes throughout the restaurant with strong communication and listening skills
- Earned “Employee of the Month” six times in two years
4. Qualifications Summary vs. Career Objective – What’s the Difference?
The difference between these two lies mostly in their length and form. Their purpose is the same: they are meant to give the hiring manager a quick understanding of how your skills and experience can help his/her company.
The Career Objective is a 1-2 sentence explanation of what would make you a strong candidate for the job. It provides a very general overview of your work experience and skills.
Here’s an example:
Hotel Housekeeping employee with over 9 years of experience in the provision and management of timely housekeeping service. Possesses a knock for achieving and maintaining elegance and a strong ethical foundation.
The problem with the Career Objective is that it’s too short to properly convey your experience and ability.
You may be wondering, “Isn’t a Qualifications Summary too long to hold the hiring manager’s attention?” The answer is no. Despite being longer, it actually saves the hiring manager time because they don’t have to sift through your work experience to find your true abilities. Essentially, you’ve done that work for them.
They’ll show their appreciation by calling you in for an interview.
5. Qualifications Summary vs. Professional Experience – What’s the Difference?
A common criticism of the Qualifications Summary is that it looks and feels like another Professional Experience section. However, there are major differences that should be pointed out.
- Written in reverse-chronological order
- Explains finer details of each job
- Gives the hiring manager a deeper understanding of your experience
- Presents a summary of your greatest achievements and qualifications
- Written in any order
- Does not include basic responsibilities and tasks
Note: You should be careful not to repeat any bullet points that you used in the Qualifications Summary.
6. I’m A Student: Should I Write a Qualifications Summary?
This will be controversial, but we say go for it — especially if you’re a very productive and active student. If you’re a student, what are the facets that you can show to a potential employer?
- Critical/relevant coursework and your GPA
- Greek life and club activities
- Student government
- Internship experience
- Volunteer experience
- Major academic accomplishments
- Awards and honors received
Generally speaking, resume experts will insist that only professionals with years of experience under their belts should write a Qualifications Summary. I disagree for the following reasons:
- No matter who you are, and what your age is, there are aspects of your experience and skill sets that qualify you over other candidates. If that were not true, everyone would easily find employment. Therefore, you should display your qualifications prominently.
- The general format of a Qualifications Summary is objectively superior to a Career Objective, because it saves the hiring manager time and effort. There’s no point in handicapping yourself just because you’re not an experienced professional.
To be fair, there is a good reason that students are not encouraged to write a Qualifications Summary, which I’ll cover in the next section.
6. When Should You NOT Write a Qualifications Summary?
You should avoid writing one if you are lacking in skills, experience, and activity. That is the primary reason that students are discouraged from writing a them – because it’s naturally going to look weak and fragile compared to a seasoned professional.
If you fall into the category of unskilled, uneducated, and not active, you need not worry. There are other strategies that you can use to solidify your resume and convey your employability. You can read them here.
Resume Genius’ Resume Builder
If you’re unclear about how to go about writing your Qualifications Summary, please leave a comment in the section below. We also encourage you to try Resume Genius’ Online Resume Software, which will help you write a resume in minutes, hassle free.
If you want to write your own resume, consider downloading one of Resume Genius’ free and professional resume templates, and filling in the information yourself. If you need guidance, find a specific resume sample from your industry, and take inspiration from its bullet points and formatting.