The Skills, Qualifications and Summary Section of a Resume

So now you have your header, your contact info, and your summary or objective paragraph (or hybrid paragraph, if that's your taste).

It probably looks something like this:

But there's one more section I suggest we add before we get to your career history.

This section doesn't have a generic name, but let's say its your Skill Summary. Or your Qualification Summary. Or your Key Accomplishments. Even your Career Highlights.

Whatever you want to call it, I suggest adding a section under your summary/objective paragraph with a bulleted list of some key items. Again, this is near the top of your resume, so this is the area that the hiring manager is going to scan to get a quick glimpse of who you are. Let's use this section to show he/she some of your best stuff.

For most job seekers, I like to see some sort of a section with bulleted items that can flesh out some of the ideas and themes you've hit upon in your Summary/Objective.

I say bulleted items and I mean it. It's a nice little visual break here, and it indicates that you're listing some key items that you want to emphasize.  So, I don't want paragraphs. I want bullets. Some people, especially IT Professionals, could do several columns of bulleted items.

So, let me give you some examples of bulleted lists you can use in this section, and you can decide which type fits your situation.

First, you could make a bulleted list of your skills. These are skills that support the assertions you made in your Summary/Objective section, or even expand upon what you said there.

For example, let's say you're an IT person, and you have explained as much in the Summary/Objective. Well, IT people need specific skills for specific jobs. So this would be a good place to list what platforms, languages, systems, technologies, etc. you have experience with.

Here's an example:

Skill set bulleted lists work well for IT Professionals of all stripes, and really any professionals with a technical or analytical bent.

Second, you could make a list of your qualifications. Qualifications include degrees, certifications, specialties, projects or even general experiences that help prove you're qualified for the position you're targeting.

For this example, let's say you're a high school teacher. Obviously, in this section, you can list your specific certifications and areas you're qualified to teach. You can list degrees, areas of specialty and that sort of thing. Other ideas include listing specialized training or seminars, and even specialized subjects you've taught in the past.

Qualification Summary

A qualification summary is designed to bolster your Summary/Objective section with key credentials that the hiring manager can scan and see if you are indeed the sort of specialist they're looking for.

Thirdly, you could have an Accomplishments section. I think an accomplishments section is especially a good idea for, say, a sales professional, or a management professional.

The accomplishments section is just that: you list great things you've done in the past. And by "things" I mean, real, tangible accomplishments. The more dollar figures, sales numbers, percentages, personnel numbers, etc. you can give, the better.

So, I would want to see a list of things like the following:

  • "Cultivated and managed a Western European territory that grew from $10 million in sales per year to $50 million in sales by the end of my tenure."
  • "Directed and managed a division of more than 200 customer service professionals, earning numerous performance and service awards for excellence."

Again, tangible numbers are best.

Each type of list should have a minimum of 3-4 entries. It can be more than that… even 9-12 items if you have them arranged into columns and they're small items.

Which of the options I've described above should you use? Depends on your industry and experience. The key to doing any list of this type is choosing the right items to include. You want ONLY the most important/impressive items. How do you know for sure which to include? Well, I hate to say it, but this is again an area where a professional resume writer can be the most helpful. They can be the impartial 3rd party that tells you what is I really important and what isn't. They're not married to any one item, and they know from everyday experience what employers are finding the most impressive lately. A lot of times when a professional resume writer works with a client, the client wants to include everything they've ever done and the writer has to help the client narrow things down to what is really important.

If you can't afford to hire a professional, at least have a friend or family member take a look and your resume and ask them to be honest with you about what is important to include in this section and what isn't.

So, let's get writing!

You can simply add your bullets and lists right under your summary/objective opening paragraph.

Or, you can create a whole new section. Let's call it Professional Highlights or something like that, let's make it 14pt. and bold just like we did for the section title above. I suggest centering it.

Below this section title, make your bulleted list, depending on which type you feel fits you. Make sure the list is bulleted so it will stand out. If you can make two or even three columns of bullets (if you know how to do this using Word) then terrific!