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What is a Summary of Qualifications?
The qualifications summary - or summary of qualifications - is an alternative section of your CV that summarises your accomplishments, work experiences, and qualifications. Unlike the more traditional CV summary and CV objective, the summary of qualifications is organised in easy to read bullet points.
If well written, it can seriously boosts your chances of getting that interview invite.
In this article you’ll learn:
- When you should include a summary of qualifications on a CV.
- A formula for how to write a job-winning qualifications summary in three easy steps.
- Examples of good and bad CV qualification summaries for over 5 professions.
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1. Summary of Qualifications—Examples and Why You Should Use It
Let’s jump right in—
Here’s a good example of a summary of qualifications for a CV:
Example of Summary of Qualifications—Customer Service
Friendly customer service representative with 4+ years of experience and skills in telesales and leadership. Seeking to boost upsell rate at Purple Dolphin Components.
- Maintained 99% favourable customer ratings at Keen Squirrel Inc.
- Scored an upsell rate of 30% above the department average.
- At SwiftBeetle Distributors, received Standout Representative Award 3x.
And this is a win-win situation. Why?
Either of the above is a short paragraph of text. The key difference is that the former highlights your skills and the latter your professional experience.
Here’s the trick:
If you go for a CV qualifications summary instead, you won’t have to make an either-or decision. You’ll put your best foot forward straight away with a catchy experience and skills summary.
This has serious benefits.
Studies show that recruiters spend about 7 seconds scanning a CV from top to bottom.
A qualifications summary at the top of your document can catch their eye for longer and give them what they’re looking for—on a silver platter.
And what is it exactly that recruiters want to find on a CV?
Studies say that up to 62% of them consider your experience the most important factor when making a hiring decision.
Well, isn’t this exactly what your summary of qualifications highlights? Along with your top skills and achievements?
A qualifications summary gives you a great opportunity to spice your CV up with strong CV keywords.
And one more thing:
Who is a summary of qualifications suitable for?
As you might have already guessed, the CV qualifications summary is suitable for candidates who have some experience, skills, and achievements to show off. In other words, it would look great on a manager CV or an executive CV.
Some experts say a summary of qualifications may not be suitable for students or other entry-level candidates because they may not have enough professional skills to show on their CVs.
And with all due respect, we disagree.
A well-written qualifications summary can give you quite an edge over the other applicants even on an entry-level CV.
Mind you, though, a well-written one.
Expert Hint: Don’t make one of the most typical mistakes job seekers make on their CVs, i.e. putting everything they’ve ever done. Be selective and tailor your CV to the job offer.
You’ll see examples of job-winning summaries of qualifications in the next section.
2. How to Write a Job-Winning Summary of Qualifications for a CV
If you mess up your summary of qualifications, you’re not going to get even 2 seconds of the recruiter’s attention.
They won’t care. They’ll have at least a dozen other CVs to choose from.
So how to get it right?
First look at a quick comparison of a good vs. bad qualifications summary for CV:
Summary of Qualifications for Entry-Level Job Seekers
Here’s what you can see in the good example:
- Short introduction with your strong traits, key skills, and a value proposition for the company.
- A list of your key accomplishments supported by numbers.
- Detailed information.
The bad example?
It has none of the above.
Let’s put it this way:
How many people out there are skilled in programming languages, have knowledge of eCommerce, and belong to professional organisations?
And how many people out there have created 2 eCommerce sites with 100% client satisfaction and developed a mobile chess game that got 450 downloads among others?
Most likely just one.
See the point?
The more specific you are about what you can do, the more exceptional you become in the recruiter’s eyes.
And you want to be the exceptional candidate, don’t you?
Here’s how to make an exceptional qualifications summary in three simple steps:
1. Write the qualifications summary once your entire CV is ready.
This way it will be much easier for you to skim the cream.
You can’t decide what you want to highlight if you don’t see the bigger picture first.
Take it easy.
Write all the other CV sections first, and then…
2. Use this formula to write the short intro.
[Adjective/strong character trait] [your job title] experienced in [your key skill(s)]. Eager to [action verb][employer’s name] [value proposition].
Here’s what it could look like in practise:
Creative and well-organised graphic designer experienced in UI and UX. Eager to provide ABC Inc. with fresh website ideas, killer layout redesigns, and image production skills.
Expert Hint: Make sure you’re addressing the employer’s exact needs. Refer to the job offer to see what skills and experience they’re in search of. Put them right here in your CV qualifications summary.
3. Pick up to five key achievements from your CV.
Remember: it’s crucial for your CV to be tailored to the job offer. If it’s not, you’re risking sending a generic-looking document that the recruiter will have no interest in reading.
Once you’ve selected the key achievements you want to highlight in the qualifications summary, shorten them to a single line, and paraphrase them.
- First off, your intro must be short and snappy.
- Second, you don’t want your CV to look repetitive.
- Third, it’s another chance for you to beef up your chances of getting through the ATS scan.
Expert Hint: Use the CV keywords you can find in the job ad at least once on your CV. If you’re looking for ideas on synonyms, here’s a list of 250+ CV words.
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If you need more inspiration, take a look at the examples below:
Project Manager—Qualifications Summary
Expert Hint: The skills you put in your CV qualifications summary need to be tailored to the position. Learn what skills to put on a CV.
Summary of Qualifications—Sales Example
Expert Hint: If you’re looking for specific advice on how to write a CV, head straight to our library of CV examples for 50+ professions.
Summary of Qualifications—IT Manager Example
Expert Hint: Want to give more attention to the skills that really count for IT pros? Head straight to our guide on computer skills and learn how to make the most of them on your CV.
Summary of Qualifications—Marketing
Expert Hint: It’s crucial for a great marketer to be able to market themselves effectively. Learn how you can do it by writing the best marketing CV out there.
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Here’s what you need to remember about the qualifications and skills summary on a CV:
- The summary of qualifications is an optional section of a CV.
- It’s recommended for candidates wishing to highlight their exceptional skills and key professional wins.
- The qualifications summary is an alternative to a more traditional CV summary or objective.
- Even though some recommend it for experienced candidates, a well-written qualifications summary can also work for entry-level candidates.
Do you have any other questions about writing a qualifications summary? Would you like to share your opinion? We’re always happy to hear from you. Give us a shout out in the comments below!