Preferred resume formats are constantly changing, and it’s important to stay ahead of advancements in resume style, structure, and content to earn your spot at the top of an employer’s callback list.
How can you be sure your resume makes an immediate, positive impression? Start by cutting out that ancient objective statement and replacing it with a well-strategized summary of qualifications.
Today, your summary of qualifications is what gets you in the door with recruiters and employers. It’s a short bullet point list at the top of your resume that’s meant to tell a brief narrative of your overall professional experience. Your summary of qualifications should always be altered to reflect relevant qualifications from a specific job posting.
Resume Summary vs. Career Objective
You may be wondering what the difference is between a qualifications summary and a career objective. An old-school career objective statement was a sentence or two at the top of your resume that stated your skills and intentions.
“Sales professional with over 10 years’ experience in medical sales looking for a senior-level position to grow my knowledge and sales abilities.”
Objective statements are short and, unfortunately, don’t tell a recruiter a whole lot—they just take up valuable space on your resume.
On the other hand, a summary of qualifications starts your resume off with a bang. It serves as a highlight of your best quantifiable accomplishments and shows the company what you could potentially do for them. With a bullet point format, it is quick to read and easily scannable. This qualification summary looks and sounds much more professional than an objective statement:
- 10+ years’ experience in medical sales
- Handled 10 medical client accounts that resulted in $500K revenue/year
- Exceeded sales goals by 12% every quarter
- Received Employee Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement
Why You Need a Summary of Qualifications
If you’re still including an outdated objective statement on your resume, it’s time for a change! Here’s why it’s important to write a summary of qualifications instead, along with some tips to get you started.
To Grab the Recruiter’s Attention
“What many don’t realize is that the initial ‘human read’ of a resume generally only lasts 4 to possibly 11 seconds. Because of this, we highly recommend a job seeker craft their summary of qualifications to catch a reader’s eye at the top of their document,” shares Betsy Andrews, Career Coach at FlexJobs.
Sure, your resume may only be one or two pages, but when a hiring manager receives hundreds of applications for a single job, those one or two pages become a lot to read through. A quick skim of your information may be all the time that’s allotted, so a summary of qualifications makes those few seconds count by putting your most impressive achievements front and center.
To Put the Focus on the Right Skills
If you’re a career changer or have been out of the workforce for a while, a summary of qualifications can really benefit you. Maybe you’ve been working in customer service, but you’re trying to switch to marketing—a qualifications summary at the top can list out your best transferable skills.
Or, perhaps you did some marketing-related tasks at your customer rep job or you volunteered to help with marketing at a local nonprofit. Instead of having those marketing skills hidden throughout a resume with customer service jobs, a summary of qualifications lets a recruiter see right away what your marketing experience is.
To Help You Pass the ATS
Nearly every job you apply to online these days uses an applicant tracking system (ATS). These software programs help recruiters weed through those hundreds of applications by scanning documents for keywords and then sorting out the best matches.
A summary of qualifications is a perfect place to get some of those keywords from the job description into your resume. Since the summary needs to be rewritten for each unique job you apply to, drill down on the specific words used in the job description. Keep in mind that if it uses “market research” and you just use the word “research,” that’s not enough. Finesse your qualifications summary to help you pass the ATS.
What to Include in Your Resume Summary
“The summary should reflect your overall career experience, and highlight achievements that will bring added value to the company. If you can depict achievements with $ or %, even better. Employers love hiring individuals that will increase the bottom line by making them money, or saving them money,” says Andrews.
Think about if you were given 30 seconds to tell someone your best career accomplishments. What would you say? Those are what should go in your summary of qualifications. Some things to include are:
- Your years of experience
- Your highest education or degree completed, or any certifications
- Areas of expertise
- Team management experience
- Key achievements using quantifiable numbers (problems you’ve solved, money saved, etc.)
- Honors or awards
Examples of a Summary of Qualifications
Here are a few sample qualifications summaries to help you write your own. Remember, the more numbers and stats you can show, the better.
Sample Resume Summary of Qualifications for Customer Service
- Answered up to 30 customer calls per day, with a 100% resolution rate
- Promoted to senior customer rep within 6 months
- Helped increase overall company sales by 35% due to quick and efficient service
- Worked remotely from home office 100% of time
Sample Resume Summary of Qualifications for Entry-Level Candidate
- B.S. in Web Development; graduated magna cum laude
- Created website for local nonprofit, resulting in a 25% increase in volunteer sign ups
- Earned 2019 PHP Certification
- Web technologies and frameworks knowledge: Angular 4, HTML5, CSS3.0, PHP
Sample Resume Summary of Qualifications for Sales
- 5 years’ experience with an expertise in medical sales
- Boosted month-to-month sales figures by 10%
- Received 95% on customer feedback surveys
- Awarded Top Sales honor two years in a row
Sample Resume Summary of Qualifications for Writer
- Expertise in financial writing (investments, credit cards, and budgeting)
- Effectively implemented best SEO practices improving rankings to top 5 for 10+ high-competition keywords
- Helped increase organic traffic conversions by 10%
- Mentored lower-level writers to improve skills
Get Help With Your Resume
FlexJobs offers a resume review service for our members. Our career coaches will review your resume for structure, formatting, wording, and more to align your resume and skills with your goals. If you need help writing a summary of qualifications, or want to make sure yours is the best it can be, consider getting a resume review from FlexJobs!
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