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Qualifications summary

The qualifications summary section is a concise synopsis of your qualifications and achievements. It is for experienced professionals with sufficient experience, typically five or more years in one particular field.

What you should include

Be selective in what you decide to include. Only include information that is relevant to the employer - typically this will include:

  • Area of expertise and number of years of experience. Note: If you include this then you should not include it in the career objective section.
  • Key responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Certifications, graduate degrees and licensure.

Make sure that you are in fact the type of applicant that could benefit from using a qualifications summary. Someone early in their career or without much prior experience should stay with the traditional career objective section or avoid an introduction altogether (if also including a cover letter).

Remember to keep the qualifications summary short and concise, you don’t want to include non-relevant information, as it will make the entire resume seem weak. Stick only your strongest and most relevant qualifications in the summary and save the rest for the body of your resume.

When you should use a qualifications summary section

You should consider using a qualifications summary section if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You are at the experienced manager pay grade or above (5+ yrs of experience).
  • You have a broad range of skills and experience.
  • You wish to highlight some of your experience from earlier in your career that otherwise might not get noticed.

It’s important to note that just because you meet the above qualifications it doesn’t mean that you are required to use a qualifications summary. Depending on the job being applied for an entirely different format may be appropriate, such as the functional resume format.

Alternatively, if you lack some of the criteria above you can consider adding a simple career objective, as this doesn’t depend on previous experience or skills as much as the qualifications summary.

Alternative terms

While "qualifications summary" is the most commonly used term for this section, there are a variety of alternative terms that you may want to utilize. These include (in alphabetical order):

  • Accomplishments
  • Background
  • Career Summary
  • Highlights
  • Professional Profile
  • Qualifications
  • Skills Summary
  • Strengths
  • Summary of Qualifications

Using any of these terms as the title of your opening “qualifications summary” will suffice as they are essentially variations of synonyms.

Take your time crafting a succinct qualifications summary as it will be the introduction of your resume and set the tone for the entire document as well as make a strong initial impression. A useful tip would be to use action words and/or numerical quantification as well in the opening statement as numbers always stand out and action words establish a proactive tone for the entire resume. Read about our blog post on why a qualifications summary may be better than a career objective.

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