What Is a Summary of Qualifications?

Definition & Examples of a Summary of Qualifications

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A summary of qualifications is a resume section that lists achievements, skills, and experience. This section is optional and, if used, should be customized for each position.

Learn more about how to use a summary of qualifications on your resume.

What Is a Summary of Qualifications?

A qualifications summary section of a resume is an optional customized section at the beginning of a resume. It lists key achievements, skills, experience, and the qualifications that are most relevant to the position you're applying for.

This summary should be placed at the top of your resume under your name and contact information.

  • Alternate names: Qualifications profile, highlights of qualifications, summary

How a Summary of Qualifications Works

A summary of qualifications can consist of a couple of sentences or a brief, bulleted list of three to five items. It should be short and show the recruiter why you're qualified for the position.

You might highlight the amount of relevant experience you have and mention qualifications that will separate you from other candidates. Be specific about your achievements. For example, for a public relations position with an organization, one of your bullet points might say, "Increased social media engagement by 20%."

You can also include soft skills that are a match for the position for which you are applying. Soft skills are non-technical skills like work ethic and problem-solving. If you're applying for a retail management position, you might list, "Skilled at resolving customer service issues."

Benefits of a Summary of Qualifications

The typical hiring manager or recruiter is tasked with reviewing dozens, if not hundreds, of job applications. To get through them all, they typically spend just over seven seconds reviewing submitted resumes. One of the advantages of including a summary of qualifications is that it's a great tool to catch the reviewer’s eye within that critical seven-second time span.

Much like a cover letter, it's beneficial to modify and tailor your summary to target each employer's specific needs. You can do this by carefully reading the qualifications requested in the job posting and then designing your summary to reflect these qualifications. 

Although a summary of qualifications is optional, it's worth considering for many job seekers. Those who can benefit include:

  • Experienced job seekers: A summary of qualifications works especially well for people with extensive work experience. It's an effective way to showcase the experiences that best speak to the qualifications an employer is seeking. 
  • Recent graduates: Resume summary statements are also a useful tool for recent college graduates. If they have limited work experience, new graduates should tailor the statement to highlight relevant transferable skills they've developed through their educational experiences and volunteer work.
  • Career changers: Career changers can also show transferable skills in the summary of qualifications and prevent their most recent and possibly unrelated experience from throwing off the hiring manager.

Although at one time it was popular for job candidates to include a career objective at the beginning of a resume, this is now generally discouraged because it places a subtle emphasis on the candidate’s career goals as opposed to the employer’s needs.

Examples of a Summary of Qualifications

Your summary can be short and catchy or longer with more information. Here are examples of short summary statements:

  • Production assistant for nationally broadcast television series
  • Five years of case management experience
  • Certified workforce development professional
  • Sales professional with 10 years of experience
  • Winner of the Acme Award for sports writing

Here are examples of longer summary statements:

  • Dynamic entrepreneur who utilizes creativity, leadership, and teamwork to design and execute solutions that create customer value. Effective communicator with the ability to create marketing materials that convey value for both clients and end-users.
  • Experienced professional with planning and organizational skills that balance work, team support, and ad-hoc responsibilities in a timely and professional manner.
  • Business development executive with 20 years of experience in technical sales, sales management, team leadership, and business growth and expansion. Oversaw a 30% increase in sales revenue.
  • Experienced professional with a unique combination of technical expertise, managerial experience, business leadership, and design and production support. Lead the delivery and implementation of XYZ mission-critical software system.
  • 10 years of experience with AIX, HP/UX, Windows, VB.NET, C#, .NET Framework, C, C++, SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, and business systems.

Key Takeaways

  • A summary of qualifications is an optional resume section that lists achievements, skills, and experience. 
  • Tailor the section for each position you're applying for.
  • Be specific about your relevant experiences and qualifications.

Article Sources

  1. Ladders. "Eye-Tracking Study," Page 2. Accessed June 27, 2020.