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You are Here: Home > Resumes > Resume and Letter Center > Six-Step Resume Writing > Step Three: Resume Skill Set and Qualifications Summary

Six-Step Resume Writing

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Step Three: Resume Skill Set and Qualifications Summary

Picture yourself at the market after a long day at the office. You're in a rush, of course, and want only to purchase those items on your list, if they're on sale.

Hurrying into the store, you glance around for the weekly advertising piece that indicates which items will be offered at a discount. Trouble is, there's no advertising piece this week, and no one to answer your questions.

If you want to purchase the items you most need at a discount, you're forced to walk up and down each and every aisle until you find what's available.

Doesn't sound like much fun or an effective use of time, does it? And yet this is the same type of frustration hiring managers are exposed to every time an applicant sends in a resume that fails to open with a well-written Qualifications Summary and/or Skill Set.

What is a Resume Qualifications Summary?

It's a brief paragraph near the top of your resume that showcases your most effective skills and experience as they pertain to your job search. More importantly, it's your chance to convince a hiring manager of the skills you can bring to the position. This is essential, given that hiring managers generally afford no more than 10 seconds to an applicant's resume, unless they're compelled to read further.

So, how do you compel them to keep reading?

Let's use this example: You're an accountant who has worked at XYZ Company for nine years and been promoted every time you've come up for review. Because of your organizational efforts, the company is saving $2500 monthly. You've passed the CPA exam. You're skilled in Profit & Loss (P&L), audits, taxation matters, and internal controls. Now, you want a Controller position.

Rather than including all of the aforementioned data in the body of the resume, where the hiring manager would be forced to look for it, but won't (remember, you'll be given 10 seconds before the hiring manager moves on), a wise candidate would write something like this:

Results-oriented, detailed professional with comprehensive accounting experience. Background includes consistent promotions to positions of increased responsibility. Skilled in P&L, audits, taxation, internal controls, and streamlining procedures, effecting a monthly savings of $2500 at XYZ Company. Recently passed the CPA exam; currently seeking a Controller position.

In five lines and a mere 45 words, you've given specific examples of what you can do, quantified an accomplishment, indicated past performance, provided data on certification, and provided your career path. You've done all of that in a well-written paragraph that's interesting and easy to read. Note that personal pronouns are not used. In resumes, personal pronouns such as I, me or my are inappropriate.

Below are three examples of outstanding qualifications summaries. Note that the heading for your "Qualifications Summary" doesn't necessarily have to be titled as such. In each example resume below, the individual's specialty or target job title serves as the heading for his or her qualifications summary.

Example Resume Qualifications Summary 1
Example Resume Qualifications Summary 2
Example Resume Qualifications Summary 3

Fine, you say. But what about an Objective? Where does that go? In modern resumes, objective statements are infrequently used. The reason for this follows.

Resume Qualifications Summary vs. Objective

In the Objective, a job candidate essentially told the hiring manager what he wanted. But a Qualifications Summary proactively declares what the job candidate can do for the company, which places the hiring manager's needs first.

That's why an Objective is now infrequently used. A wise applicant will skip including an Objective and always include a Qualifications Summary, by itself or combined with a Skill Set.

What is a Resume Skill Set?

Generally speaking, it's a list of your core competencies as they relate to your career goal. As above, let's take the example of the accountant who has just passed the CPA exam and now wants to be a controller. Rather than presenting all of that data in the Qualifications Summary, a portion of it could be showcased as a skill set, something like this:

Example Resume Skill Set

This time, the first two lines, which contain just 11 words, present core strengths quickly and effortlessly for a hiring manager.

Let ResumeEdgeResumeEdge Professional Resume Writing give your resume and cover letter an edge!

Next Page > Step Four: Resume Accomplishments and Special Skills
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