How to Write a Summary of Qualifications: 3 Pointers for a Strong Statement


write a summary statement

A resume summary of qualifications —also called a summary statement—is a list of bulleted points that summarizes your professional skills and experience in one powerful package. It can make or break your chances at an interview.

It also gives hiring managers an idea of your expertise and value. It also gives them a reason to read the rest of your resume. The summary statement should show your best skills and accomplishments that you will bring to the company.

    What is a Summary of Qualifications?

    A summary of qualifications is one of the most important components of your resume, even if you have no experience. The summary is sandwiched below your contact information and above the main body of the resume. This statement can also be called a summary of experience, a summary statement and a professional summary. 

    Whatever you call it, it is the foot-in-the-door that will advance your resume further down the process. Make sure it kicks some serious butt. 

    When to Use a Summary of Qualifications

    Resume summary statements are most useful if you have several years of work experience in the same field and you are applying for a similar job. They can also be useful if you are transitioning to a job in a different field. Here, you can highlight your transferable skills and how they would apply to the new job. 

    Example Summary of Qualifications

    Here is an example of a summary of qualifications:

    • Healthcare professional with 5 years as an RN, including three years delivering emergency medicine
    • Manages a team of 10 and improved shift scheduling processes to cut absenteeism by 25%
    • Uses clinical reasoning and collaborative skills to support medical staff
    • Develops a nursing plan of care that compassionately delivers services to 20-25 patients
    • Excellent ability to communicate patient conditions to patients and family members in simple language
    • Expected completion of a Master’s degree in nursing in December 2020

    1. Look at the Job Description

    The job description is a wishlist of what the hiring manager wants in a candidate. Don’t worry if you don’t check every box. Make sure you meet the required skills and knowledge and tick as many preferred as you can. 

    Do not lie about or exaggerate your qualifications. It will bite you in the backside.  

    The job description will tell you who the company is looking for and why. Your job is to say hold my beer and tell them what you offer and why you do it better than anyone else. 

    2. Use Keywords That Make Sense

    See how this statement says the exact title of the job you have or want, and then it lists the qualifications that were listed in the job description. This job wanted someone with management experience. This person demonstrated that experience is a few sentences.

    A statement of qualifications sums up your career in 3-5 bullet points. it has to be strong and fearless.

    3. Write with Persuasion

    When you write your summary of qualifications, you have to answer the question: Why should the company choose you? This is where marketing comes in.

    Your summary statement is what differentiates you from other people who also want the same job. The statement has to be compelling, tightly written (every word counts) and convey that you are a good fit.

    To start writing one, you’ll need to do a bit of brainstorming. It helps to have the job description and your most recent resume or LinkedIn profile handy. Use this list of 42 action words for your resume for inspiration. Do these steps to write a great statement.

    Look at the job description and your information. Highlight or underline similar or the same phrases in each one. This will give you a visual on how well your experience matches up. Don’t want to do the work yourself? Jobscan has a cool free tool that will compare your resume with the job description and give you a report like this:

    Try it yourself

    Ok, so after highlighting the terms, choose the 1-2 most relevant qualifications from the job description that you need to mention. For instance, if the job requires 5 years of management experience and for you to be bilingual in Spanish, you should include those items in your summary.

    Then you need to say what you accomplished (tangible example), why you are the best at or what specialized knowledge you have. For example, if you worked in a Spanish speaking country for a few years and understand the culture as well as the language, that’s a huge plus.

    At this point, you have the keywords and 3-4 points you want to make. Now you have to polish this piece of carbon into a diamond. Use active verbs, strong words and be bold.

    Summary of Qualifications vs. Objective Statement

    If you are confused about the term objective vs summary statement, they are two different things. An objective statement is so 2003. It is a throwback to the pre-Great Recession job market where you stated your goals and career hopes. No one has time for that anymore. Chances are you are one of hundreds of applicants and obviously if you applied for the job you have the goal of becoming a (fill in the blank.)

    Nowadays, real estate on a resume is hard to come by. A resume should only be 1-2 pages. A fluffy statement about what you want doesn’t serve any purpose. In addition, it’s a hiring managers’ market out there. There are tons of qualified applicants to chose from.

    The bottom line is, don’t use the objective on your resume.

    Do This After You Write Your Summary

    Now that you know how to write a kick-butt summary statement, give yourself a pat on the back. Now go through your resume and make sure all of the information in it supports that summary statement. If you need to cut or add information to further support your summary, make the changes.

    Don’t forget to review your resume with this writing guide. It gives you 20 questions to ask your resume to make sure your documents are perfect.

    Tracey Lamphere

    Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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