Writing Your Skills Summary
The Qualification Summary section of your resume is where you lure a potential employer into your resume with a few bullet points that briefly highlight your skills, abilities, and accomplishments.
It’s also a must for career changers. This gives you the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between your previous career skills and your newly chosen career. It also shows a potential employer how and why your previous skills are a perfect fit for the job you are seeking.
At this point, it’s all marketing. Your resume works like a magazine ad. First, your reader sees your name, then they read your Job Objective. Your Job Objective sells them and convinces them to read your Qualifications Summary, and your Qualifications Summary sells them and convinces them to keep reading your resume.
The Qualifications Summary section can be titled several different ways, such as:
- Skills and Qualifications Summary
- Qualifications Summary
- Highlights of Qualifications
- Summary of Qualifications
- Qualifications Summary
What Belongs in Your Qualifications Summary
In short, a few bold and powerful statements that highlight your past accomplishments and achievements. These achievement statements are a well-crafted blend of your experience, accomplishments, work ethic, and professional background.
Whatever you say, you need to say it well and with style. Your skills section needs to be tightly focused on the type of job you are seeking and more importantly, it needs to match and be consistent with everything else on your resume.
How to Write Powerful Statements
In this section and throughout the rest of your resume you need to write in the first person. Basically, create statements about you and your work experience as though you were talking about yourself to someone else , without saying “I.”
For example, “I am a Certified Project Manager,” would be written on your resume as: “Certified Project Manager.”
Here’s another example, “I have provided technical training and staff mentoring,” would be written on your resume as: “Provided technical training and staff mentoring.”
Do you see the difference? In short, never use the word “I” on your resume.
The key to writing powerful attention-grabbing statements that will pull the reader deeper into your resume is by writing tangible statements, in as few words as possible, about your accomplishments as they relate to your target job.
Completing the following skills exercises will help you with this process. Start off by writing down all of your skills & accomplishments and then we’ll weed out everything except for a few key accomplishments.
By writing down and thinking of the small and lesser things you have done will help trigger your brain into remembering some of the bigger and noteworthy things you have done.
- Find out what skills and qualifications are required for your target job. If you don’t know this, go to www.monster.com and search for the type of job you want. At this point, it does not matter where the job is located because we’re only interested in the qualifications for the position. Then, read the job description and qualifications in the search results. Don’t worry if this is not an exact match for you, we’re just looking for something close to your target job.
- Focus on your most recent job and write down everything you have done for the company. Write down all your accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Then move on to your next most recent job.
- Write down ALL of your strongest skills as they relate to your past & current jobs. Basically, write down what you are you best at doing. (save your work because we’ll use it again Chapter 4.)
- Take your time on these steps because it’s often difficult to come up with everything you’ve done off the top of your head. You may need to revisit each a job a few times before you remember all the great things you have done.
- Now, using the results from Exercises one and two, create a simple sentence or two that describes one of your accomplishments. Don’t feel the need to make it perfect the first time, just write it down however it comes to your mind.
For example, if you’re a technical writer you might say:
“A Technical writer specializing in project proposals and grant requests.” There is nothing wrong with this statement, but it’s not overly impressive.
We can improve this statement simply by adding your length of experience and a quantifiable dollar amount. Let’s say you have been a Technical Writer for 12 years and the work you produced made the company $257,000.
Your new Summary of Qualifications would look like:
“12 years as a technical writer of project proposals generating over $250,000 in annual sales.”
It’s much easier to first create a simple statement about what you did, and then apply quantifiable results like:
- Hours or time saved
- Dollars saved, reduced or earned
- Efficiency increased
- Jobs created
- Processes streamlined
- Sales increased
- Improved quality
Qualifications Statement Examples
In this section, I’m going to show you how to transform “not so good” qualifications statements into powerful statements that will pack a powerful punch for anyone who reads them.
An Information Technology professional with database experience might say, “I have been working with ePiphany CRM and Microsoft SQL.”
Qualifications statement: “Five years of team lead, hands-on development experience with ePiphany CRM and Microsoft SQL databases at General Electric.”
An Industrial Engineering manager might write, “I have been managing construction and quality control of hydro-electric power plants.”
Qualifications statement: “18 years of professional experience managing quality control of hydro-electric power plants with a 100% accident-free safety record.”
A TV Director or Producer might write, “I have been producing and directing TV shows for the news and entertainment industry.”
Qualifications statement: “15 years experience with PBS as a top director and producer of the award winning PBS series This Old House with over 20 million viewers.”
4. Example: An Administrative Assistant might write, “I have excellent communication skills, a resourceful problem solver, and often relieve pressure from my superiors.”
Qualifications statement: “Reputation for being patient, a resourceful problem solver, and directed the implementation of an email integrated voice mail system that helped increase revenue by 27%.”
An Accountant might write, “I have been a corporate accountant responsible for department procedures, budgets and Information Technology.”
Qualifications statement: “Experienced in budget reductions, preparation and cash flow for non-profit organizations.” [I dropped Information Technology experience because it is not related to accounting, and would stand-out better in it’s own statement]
These examples won’t fit everyone to a tee, but after studying them, you’ll be able to apply the same technique to create your own personalized qualifications that boast your achievements.
Remember, the key to writing a powerful Qualifications Statement is to pack it full of quantifiable accomplishments from your past so it grabs your reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading your resume.
Begin your Summary of Qualifications with your best and most powerful statement and then list 3-4 more in order of importance.
There are many more examples of how to transform qualifications to powerful Skills Summary statements inside the Resume Masterpiece.
Your qualifications statements should make it easy for an employer to visualize you working for them. After an interviewer reads them, there should be little doubt in her mind that you are perfectly qualified for this job.
I have seen many very poorly written Qualifications Sections. Some people feel the need to list every skill they have ever learned, some with 30 – 40 skills. It all goes back to trying to be all things to all people, which you can’t do. Your skills section needs to be tightly focused on the type of job you are seeking and more importantly, it needs to match and be consistent with everything else on your resume.
Avoid putting down overused and outdated clichéd phrases like:
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Outstanding organization skills
- Results oriented individual
- Goal oriented individual
- Exceptional problem solving skills, etc.
These phrases sound good and seem to pack a punch, but when you get right down to it, they are vague and boring. They are also overused by every other job seeker on the planet and they simply don’t carry any weight, not to mention being extremely nebulous and indefinable. You need to be powerful and specific.
In the next lesson, we will write your work experience.