How to List a Summary of Qualifications on a Resume

By Jack Flynn and Experts
Sep. 28, 2022

Even though every section of your resume is valuable, you might be wondering how to really emphasize your skills to a potential employer.

Often, there are important details about your achievements, performance, or personality that you want to put front and center for a hiring manager to see. Therefore, simply putting these qualifications in your work experience descriptions may not have the impact you’re looking for.

The best way to emphasize details about your qualifications to a potential employer is by listing them as their own separate section on your resume. This section of your resume is called a Summary of Qualifications, and will give you the opportunity to share what makes you a great employee.

Key Takeaways:

  • A summary of qualifications presents your most qualifying traits in a section tailored for your potential employer.

  • Use bullet points in your summary of qualifications.

  • Things you can address in your summary of qualifications include years of experience you have in a select field, any specializations or unique skills you were trained in, and critical achievements.

  • As with most of your resume, use quantifiable data when possible in your summary of qualifications.

How to List a Summary of Qualifications on a Resume

What Is A Summary Of Qualifications

A Summary of Qualifications presents your most defining achievements or personality traits in a way that is meant to maximize your perceived value as an employee.

A Summary of Qualifications should be tailored to the employer you are applying to. Therefore, a Summary of Qualifications should only include information relevant to the job. It is located at the top of a resume to direct the reader’s attention and introduce your most important qualifications.

A Summary of Qualifications is optional, however it can be very beneficial, especially if you meet certain criteria, such as exceptional and extensive qualifications.

How To Format A Summary Of Qualifications

How you format a Summary of Qualifications is just as important as what you say. To format a Summary of Qualifications:

  • Keep it brief. Like other important sections of your resume, such as your education and work experience, your Summary of Qualifications should aim to be brief, while also highlighting important details.

  • Place it at the top of your resume. As mentioned previously, this section of your resume serves as a way to highlight your value, and should leave a memorable impact. Therefore, you should place your summary of qualifications at the top of your resume.

  • Avoid first person language. You should also keep in mind that the way in which you write is important. Avoid I or me statements, and instead focus on an active voice with action verbs.

    Instead of writing “I was awarded for completing 85% of my group’s graphing and paperwork”, start your statement with an action verb, and keep an active voice by saying:

    Awarded by the team for completing over 85% of the group’s graphing and paperwork post-excavation

  • Use bullet points. Additionally, in talking about impact and readable formatting, it’s important to note that the most effective way to present Qualifications Summary is through the use of a bullet list. This formatting works in favor of you and your potential employer for a few reasons:

    • Focus. The bullet list style will make each qualification stand out as an individual merit.

    • Direct. The bullet style conveys a directness that will highlight the importance of your words.

    • Easy to read. The hiring manager will be able to skim the summary without missing out on the critical details

    Ideally, you should limit your bullet list to no more than 6 or 7 qualifications, and those qualifications shouldn’t be more than 2 lines long. In keeping to this formatting, you will maximize the benefits mentioned above.

What Is In A Qualifications Summary

Even though you know how to format your Summary of Qualifications, maybe you aren’t sure what to include. Perhaps you feel too average, or like you lack some of this incredible experience that some of the samples convey.

However, you shouldn’t fear. There are always clever ways to make yourself seem extraordinary, and a Qualifications Summary will only help on that front.

Here is an general template for a Summary of Qualifications:

  • Years of experience you have in a select field

  • Highest degree you’ve achieved, including your major, school and graduation year

  • Leadership experience, including how many people you worked with or worked for you

  • Critical achievement or major project you completed, ideally including numerical data

  • Any specializations or unique skills you were trained in

  • Important daily tasks or responsibilities you had in a previous role

  • Professional recognitions, including certifications or awards you received

As you can see, a Summary of Qualifications should be crisp and clean. All of the bullet notes are easy to skim without losing their punch, and this will benefit you immensely in your pursuit of that shiny new job. Though, keep in mind that this is a template, and if you feel you lack any of the items listed, you do not need to include them.

Here is an example of a Summary of Qualifications using some of the items on the template:

Summary Of Qualifications

  • Ten years of experience working as an ER nurse and midwife

  • Achieved a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Boston (2018)

  • Five years of experience leading a team of 15 nurses

  • Reduced patient mortality rate in the ER by 11%

  • Managed up to 20 patients a day, including recording and monitoring their condition

Even if you can’t hit all of the key points on the template, there is always something you can include as a qualification you have. No matter what, those qualifications will make you stand out above another applicant.

Additionally, regardless of what you choose to include, easy details to start with are how long you’ve been working in a certain field, and your highest education level. These qualifications are especially valuable if you’re applying to a position that requires relevant experience in these fields . You should also keep in mind that the most beneficial way to present these skills is through quantifiable data, showing exactly what you have achieved. Instead of saying that you have many years of experience, say:

7 years of experience working in X field

When in doubt, some key skills you should display in your summary are: authority, creativity, efficiency, management, and communication.

Here are some powerful words you can use to display those skills:

  • Authority and Management: mentored, supervised, administered, coordinated, delegated, trained

  • Creativity: envisioned, conceptualized, designed, performed, customized

  • Efficiency: maintained, organized, prepared, arranged, updated, scheduled

  • Communication: collaborated, persuaded, discussed, presented, clarified, facilitated

All that being said, you’re more than ready to write a glowing Summary of Qualifications.

Other Examples Of Qualification Summaries

Fresh out of High School:

  • Worked at Tom’s Groceries for nearly 2 years

  • Achieved a high school degree from Franklin High with a GPA of 3.7

  • Complemented by grocery staff and teachers alike as being extremely patient and eager to learn

  • Trained as a cashier and a cart attendant

  • Skilled in multitasking, due to balancing a part time job at Tom’s Groceries and honors classes in high school at the same time

College Focused:

  • Volunteered for a field archaeology project in Pompeii every summer for 4 years

  • Graduated Anthro University with a Masters in Anthropology and a 3.8 GPA

  • Worked with 5 other Archaeologists in a unit, requiring intense communication and passionate teamwork

  • Completed a 70 page research project, which studied the civilian life at the height of the Roman Republic

  • Finished 14 projects before their due date, while maintaining professional quality

  • Awarded by the team for completing over 85% of the group’s graphing and paperwork post-excavation

Customer Service:

  • Over 10 years of experience in customer service

  • Achieved a high school degree from Samson High (2010)

  • Trained 7 newly hired sales associates, and mentored them so they could adapt to their new responsibilities

  • Set a Black Friday record at Bob’s Electronics for checking out 287 customers

  • Well-spoken and easy to talk to, often utilizing a proficiency in English and Spanish to communicate with customers

  • Awarded Employee of the Month on two separate occasions, including November 2019 and July 2020.

Realtor:

  • Experience working as a Realtor in the capital region for over 6 years

  • Graduated from Housing College with a Masters degree in Business Administration (2017)

  • Adept at networking, and licensed to work as a realtor in New York and Connecticut

  • Increased housing sales by 22% while working at Realtor Co.

  • Gave 72 sellers renovation advice that resulted in a return on investment of at least $15,000

  • Helped 60% of buyers receive offers that were over asking

  • Received Top Realtor of the Month for 7 months in a row from August 2019 through March 2020

Why Is A Summary Of Qualifications Important

Having this section as a part of your resume is not required, however, that’s what makes it stand out. If someone is competing for the same position as you, and submits a resume that lacks a Summary of Qualifications, you will gain a step up by including one. By displaying your value front and center, a hiring manager should not only be confident in your individual merit, but also your potential as a new employee.

Should I Use A Summary Of Qualifications?

Using a summary of qualifications depends on your circumstances. You should strongly consider providing a Summary of Qualifications if:

  • You have extensive professional experience. If you have a lot of experience, a Summary of Qualifications can help to summarize your most important traits. A Summary of Qualifications brings those traits to the attention of the reader a lot faster.

  • You are a recent graduate or have little professional experience. Conversely, you may have little experience but plenty of transferable skills and accomplishments you want to highlight, which a Summary of Qualifications can do for you.

  • You are changing careers. When changing careers, your resume at first glance may look like its filled with irrelevant job experience. A Summary of Qualifications helps you show you have the desired traits.

  • You have the space. If you find you still have space on a one page resume, a Summary of Qualifications can be a nice way to bring to the reader’s attention your most important abilities.

Remember, a Summary of Qualifications is optional, so it is up to you to decide whether or not you want to provide one.

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Author

Jack Flynn

Jack Flynn is a writer for Zippia. In his professional career he’s written over 100 research papers, articles and blog posts. Some of his most popular published works include his writing about economic terms and research into job classifications. Jack received his BS from Hampshire College.

Expert

Don Pippin, MHRM, CPRW, CDCS

Don Pippin is an executive and HR leader for Fortune 50 and 500 companies and startups. In 2008, Don launched area|Talent with a focus on helping clients identify their brand. As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Digital Career Strategist, and Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Don guides clients through career transitions.

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