Employers will spend hours reading through job applicant resumes in search of the perfect person to fit their vacancy. Obviously, when faced with a virtual mountain of applications to wade through, many employers will take some short-cuts to identify the most promising candidates.
When reading a resume, where they will always start is right at the top. This is why you need your resume introduction to deliver your qualifications summary so that the employer can see straight away that you have the right qualifications for the job in hand.
Why is your qualifications summary so important?
In many cases when faced with the task of sorting through approaching 100 resumes, an employer will simply read your summary of qualifications and then make an instant decision about whether or not your job application will go any further.
This is why it is so important to get your summary just right. Learning how to write a clean-cut qualifications summary for your resume will help to boost your chances of getting through that initial read-through and save your application from being rejected.
What is the summary of qualifications?
Understanding what a qualifications summary is will better help you to write your own for your resume. It is a way to summarize the most relevant and valuable aspects of your experience that makes you the perfect match for the job you are applying for.
This means you will need to sit down and draw on your most major achievements, relevant skills and most related qualifications that best demonstrate your competence for this role.
Remember that your qualifications summary is not the same as your resume summary statement or resume objective statement. Your statement should be written bullet point style using short sentences that highlight your skills.
Using the bullet point format for your layout helps to quickly deliver the most important aspects of your qualifications that tie in closely with the job requirements for the role on offer.
Should everyone use one on their resume?
It will greatly depend on where you are coming from in your job application. This can be a very useful tool for a job candidate that has many years of work experience and has undertaken a lot of training courses and qualifications.
While a very experienced and mature job candidate will have plenty of information to include on their resume, it can be a very good idea for them to create a summary at the beginning of their document so that they stand a better chance of getting past the first-glance of the employer.
It can be extremely tempting to write a chronological resume that shows your work experience timeline when you have plenty of skills and knowledge to demonstrate. However, a weary employer that has maybe already looked through a few dozen resumes will appreciate seeing a short qualifications summary introduction to read.
ATS software and human keyword scanning
A lot of large corporations make use of ATS software (Applicant Tracking Scanning) to process huge numbers of job applications. What ATS software does is to scan resumes looking for specific keywords or key phrases that have been entered for the job.
If the ATS software comes across any generic resumes that don’t contain the desired keywords or phrases, they will be rejected.
It is the same case for employers that don’t use ATS software. They will use their own staff to check through each job application that comes through manually. If the candidate’s resume doesn’t contain any of the relevant keywords that the employer is looking for, the applicant will be quickly moved to the reject pile.
This is why we always stress that you check the job advert and the job description carefully to look for keywords or key phrases that you can take and use in your application.
What should you include?
Make sure your summary looks attractive and is easy on the eye to read through. Think of this section as being your professional profile that shows the employer your strengths and suitability for the role on offer.
Your qualifications summary should be short, clear and free of distracting waffle. Grab the attention of the employer quickly by delivering exactly what they are looking for within the first few seconds of them reading your resume.
Write your qualifications summary in a way that makes life easy for the employer. Help them save their time and energy having to look through your resume by highlighting your qualifications for the job at the top of your resume in a bullet point style layout using short sentences.
Only include the most valuable and relevant information that will demonstrate the skills you will bring to this job. Concentrate on the main benefits you will be able to deliver without the employer needing to train you for.
If you’re not sure what are the best skills you should list on your resume, check out this guide.
How to write a summary of qualifications
You may want to consider using a professionally designed resume template to get the best possible layout and appearance that you can. Using a well-designed template such as our Shades of Black, for example, will give you an easy way to customize your resume to deliver your summary as early as possible.
Let’s take a look at what you should include in your summary:
1: Highlight your expertise
Dive straight in by listing your years of previous work experience in the same or related field. Include a brief list of your duties or responsibilities in each of your related jobs.
If you have gained any management experience during your time in a related job, mention your role and your supervisory experience. This will show that you can step up to take on extra responsibilities in the workplace should the need or opportunity arise.
2: List relevant courses or training
Include any job-related courses or training that you have taken – make sure to list the most recent training first to demonstrate that your knowledge is still fresh and up-to-date.
3: Demonstrate your innovative side
If you created and implemented any work practices or procedures that benefited your previous company or helped to improve efficiency, productivity or workplace safety, then include brief details of your accomplishments.
You will want to include enough detail for your work-related accomplishments to be notable, but again you don’t want to include too much text here that could put off the employer. Also, be careful to simply inform of your accomplishments – don’t try to come across as too boastful or sound as if you are bragging about yourself.
4: List any workplace awards or commendations
Being acknowledged by your peers for your work is impressive and is something worth sharing in your qualifications summary. So briefly list your awards or published work and the dates you received them.
Your prospective new employer will be keen to see an applicant that shows dedication to their work and a willingness to further their standing (and that of the company) within your industry.
5: Interpersonal skills
Whether you are applying for a job that is part of a close-knit team, or it is for a supervisory or management role, you will need to show that you have good interpersonal skills that enable you to communicate with people on all levels.
You can mention that you established a good working relationship with co-workers, senior line managers and junior staff to help establish and maintain a good harmony in the workplace.
In most jobs it is important to have a good level of communication skills, especially if you are dealing directly with customers, staff or suppliers, so be sure to state that you are a confident communicator with the ability to listen and compromise when necessary.
While you can use the above five points to help you write your qualifications summary, remember that every single point you write must bear relevance to the job you are applying for.
While you may be particularly proud of a work-related accomplishment or achievements you may have earned in the past, if it bears no direct relevance to the job in hand, then it doesn’t belong in your qualifications summary.
Don’t forget that you can use one of our fully editable resume templates to help you build a very effective resume. As our templates can be customized in MS Word, you can build a very impressive looking resume without having to struggle with formatting layouts or trying to space out your information correctly.
If you are unsure about which resume template is right for you or the industry you want to work in, then read our expert tips about choosing the right resume template to fit your style. You can also find a lot of free help and guidance on our blog about: