How to Do a Summary of Qualifications for Business Managers

A solid summary of qualifications keeps your resume out of the trash.
A solid summary of qualifications keeps your resume out of the trash. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

A senior-level job applicant has the work experience to justify writing a summary of qualifications to open his resume rather than a simpler career objective. While a career objective provides an overview of an applicant's background and professional goals in one statement, the summary of qualifications sums up a manager's most relevant and impressive professional accomplishments in a few sentences or bullet points. Note that not even the most experienced business manager can justify writing a summary that's a page long. Just like the rest of your resume, the summary of qualifications should be to-the-point and targeted.

Reread the job description and look for key words. Recruiters often sort through a pile of applications and make their first cuts based on whether resumes contain certain position- and industry-relevant terminology. Circle any words that stand out, especially those that describe necessary skills and valuable attributes. For example, if the job description states that the ideal candidate has "strong presentation skills" and "the ability to inspire and motivate others," circle "presentation skills," "inspire" and "motivate."

Write the rest of your resume first. Your summary of qualifications is like a brief synopsis of your application, describing why you're applying for the job and your most important skills. Writing a synopsis is easier when you know the full story first, so getting through the rest of your resume and returning to your summary at the end usually saves time.

Review your resume. Consider it through the lens of the key words you circled, and write three to five facts about yourself that you think are most important. Ask yourself what you would write if you could say only five things about yourself to impress the recruiter and land the interview. Don't worry about format or sentence structure yet; just get the ideas down.

Decide between bullet point format and short paragraph format. If the points you have written down focus more on past roles and responsibilities, writing your summary in paragraph form is a better way to describe your experiences in an interconnected way. If you narrowed in on skills and attributes, listing your abilities as bullet points makes more sense. You may use a combination of paragraph text and bullet points if your qualities are equally divided between roles and skills.

Write your summary of qualifications, avoiding personal pronouns and including your circled key words. Begin your first bullet point or sentence with your professional title or identity. For example: "Human resources management professional with 15 years of experience guiding large HR teams and mentoring junior staff." Next, describe more specific experiences and list your concrete skills.

Format your summary of qualifications to make it both informative and visually appealing. Top it with a titling word in bold, capital letters, such as "Profile" or "Summary." If you split your summary into a paragraph-style synopsis and a bulleted list, use a subtitle to separate your skills list, such as "Key Competencies," "Areas of Expertise" or "Specialties."

Tips & Warnings

  • Some skills to list if you're applying for a business management position include merger and acquisition experience, product development, expansion, employee coaching, negotiating, strategic thinking and problem-solving. These words are suggestions; using key terms from the job description is most important.

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