Writing a Qualifications Summary

By:Pat Kendall


A well-written summary statement sets the tone for the entire resume and establishes that you have the desired experience and skill-set to do the job.

The summary statement is the first thing employers see when they review your resume, so the best strategy is to focus immediately on skills and abilities that will qualify you for your job target.

In some cases, your level of experience is be your most impressive qualification. If you have worked many years in a given field, the longevity of your experience tells employers that you are a “seasoned” professional — someone who has expertise, knows the industry, and can resolve typical problems.

Maybe you’re a student or career changer — someone with little or no experience at all. If that’s the case, your strategy should be based on your specialized training and your desirable traits. (e.g., your potential, work ethic, aptitude, organizational ability, desire, motivation).

Perhaps you are an artist or a fast-track sales rep. You have received awards or recognition for your “special skills” but have no formal credentials.

Of course, most people fit into more than one category, but job seekers typically fall into one of these three categories:

  1. Experience-based: You have years of experience in your job target area — and that experience is the most marketable aspect of your candidacy.
  2. Education-oriented: Your specialized training or education is your “qualifying” credential.
  3. Ability-focused: Your acquired skills, ability level, or accomplishments are more impressive than your experience or education.


Are You Overqualified?if you have too much experience (i.e., your targeted positions require 3-5 years’ experience and you have 17 years), the best approach is to leave length of experience out of the summary. Instead, let them know you have solid or comprehensive experience. (It’s not a good idea to point out the fact that you’re overqualified!)

When creating your opening statement, use your best tie-in — whether it’s experience, education, or ability. Below are some examples:


Purchasing manager with more than 13 years of experience in high-tech manufacturing environments.

Dedicated teacher with seven years’ experience in lesson planning and classroom management at the primary level.

Dedicated teacher with seven years of combined experience in lesson planning, classroom management, team teaching, curriculum mapping, and whole group instruction.


College graduate with training and hands-on skills in A, B, and C.

MBA graduate with first-hand experience in marketing and business administration.

College graduate with training in business administration and course work in accounting, finance, and statistical analysis.

Creative floral designer with certificate of completion in flower arranging from the New York Academy of Floral Design.

Business administration major, familiar with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) through hands-on training provided by the University of North Carolina.


Accomplished [ insert job title ] with demonstrated skills in XXXXXXXXX, XXXXX, and XXXXXX.

Effective turnaround expert with successful experience in change management and creative problem solving.

Award-winning graphic designer with solid skills in web site planning, design, and execution.

Motivated sales professional with record of success in cold calling, new business development, and key account management.

Experienced purchasing agent with proven ability to negotiate favorable prices and contract terms. 

If you claim to be “award winning,” have a “record of success” or “proven” abilities, you’d better demonstrate it in your job descriptions. Unless claims like these are verified (via examples, quantifiable results, or awards) they are empty rhetoric.

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