How To Build a Powerful Resume That Will Land You an Interview - Part Two

How do you highlight your accomplishments and skills so they are upfront and center when someone looks at your resume? Try using a summary of qualifications.

A summary of qualifications

After your name and contact information, that prime real estate at the top of your resume needs to be filled with a summary of qualifications. A qualifications summary is a customized tool that lists key achievements, skills, experience, and your qualifications that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying. It’s designed to draw the attention of the hiring manager and also helps to get your resume past the computer robots of the Applicant Tracking Systems if you’re applying for a job online. 

In the past, most resumes started with a career objective. The applicant would write a two-sentence description of the job they were seeking and their main qualifications for the job. However, resume formatting has changed due to online applicant tracking and the diverse pool of job seekers. Career objectives no longer fit the new resume model. It’s now much more functional (and necessary) to begin with bulleted summaries that cover your main achievements, qualifications, and skills that qualify you for the job. 

The qualifications summary can be the hardest part of writing a resume but is incredibly useful. You can use it to highlight your accomplishments and skills on your LinkedIn profile and memorize it to use when you need to give a quick spiel about your job qualifications.  

How do you write a summary of qualifications?

In your summary, you can include bullets with:

  • Years of experience in your field/area of expertise along with functional specialty or job title

  • Professional achievements, strengths, expertise and specialization (If you finished step one in the how to build a resume series, you can use your results to complete this task.)

  • Educational degrees and specific coursework related to the job

  • Skills and abilities (software, hardware, languages, etc)

  • Licenses and/or certificates you’ve earned related to job position. (Tip: Use both acronyms and spelled out form for best key word optimization).

To enhance the effectiveness of your qualifications summary and resume, read each job description carefully and use specific keywords and phrases the hiring manager has used. Customize your resume for each job application. That increases the chance that you’ll be hitting keywords and phrases that the ATS targets. However, keep the copy smooth and readable - you don’t want it to sound contrived.

Here’s an example for a sales manager:  

  • Fast track 17 year sales and management career in competitive industries and markets (publishing, computer systems sales, commercial real estate)

  • Earned distinction as #1 sales producer in three distinct markets

  • Adept at recruiting, coaching and motivating dynamic sales teams

  • International skills and cultural understanding: lived and worked in Beijing and Tokyo for five years; multilingual skills include fluent Spanish and conversational Mandarin and Japanese.

Or another example for a non - profit executive director:

  • Nationally recognized senior non-profit leader with 17 years of professional experience in community development.

  • Developed creative strategies in donor relations through implementing needs assessment and service programs, Increased donor list by 22%.

  • Created collaborative community networks to address multiple needs of underserved communities

  • Proven record of hiring highly qualified staff and recruiting volunteers to undergird the work of staff

  • Engaging public speaker and teacher, dynamic and persuasive with diverse communities.

It's worth spending some real time and energy to create a dynamic qualifications summary that highlights your best skills and achievements. It's like putting your best foot forward in your resume and letting yourself shine. 


Keep reading: How to Build a Powerful Resume that will Land you an Interview: Part Three - 7 Elements of an Exceptional Resume