What is a Summary of Qualifications?

A summary of qualifications is a branding statement that introduces the resume. It usually consists of between three to six brief, concise, strongly stated assertions or summary statements that will immediately lead the prospective employer to see you as a person who effectively does what he or she needs to be done.

This approach works best when you have a clear idea of where you want to go – its success depends on the position sought. How can you identify yourself as the person who can get the job done if you don’t know what the job is? Therefore, meet with a career counselor to help define your goals in preparation for writing a summary of qualifications

Writing a Summary of Qualifications

Be clear about your objectives

If you are not absolutely clear about your objective, envision an ideal environment which will value you for the chief characteristics and experience you want to be hired for. You can develop a powerful message about who you are and how and what you want to contribute, but this alone will not allow you to tailor your presentation to the needs of a particular market. You then need to take the critical step of identifying where you want to be: what market, what city, what companies.

Analyze your target market

Once you are clear about where you want to go and what you want to do, analyze your target market. Research your industry and key trends affecting it now. Who are the players? What are your target companies within the broader market? Integrate background information and “foreground” information on particular companies to identify important issues. Read news articles (Google news, for example,) and company websites. Analyze job descriptions of jobs that attract you. Talk to people.

  • What is prized in your target market? In your target job?
  • What experience, skills and attributes matter in it?
  • If you were a hiring manager, what would you be looking for?

How do you fit or want to fit in your target market?

  • What are the most persuasive selling points you can offer?
  • What are critical problems you are positioned to help solve?
  • Where is the intersection of what “they” want and what you want?

Identify, describe and refine your key selling points. Read and edit for: vividness, clarity, accuracy, and power. Try centering the summary at the top of the resume on making the greatest visual impact. It should stand out from the body of the resume. Have only one summary section whether you call it Summary of Qualifications, Summary of Skills, or Key Accomplishments, you need just one section.

Review the rest of your resume for relevance. Everything you choose to include should be relevant to what you want to do next. This process takes time. Every minute you spend on this process will pay off when you are actually presenting yourself to people in person, whether you are networking or interviewing.