How to Write a Summary of Professional Skills on a Resume?

All about career summary and a little more March 16, 2020 · 12 min read

If you want to have a truly great resume, you need an introduction that leaves the reader wanting more. It’s the first thing the hiring manager is going to read, and we’ve got a guide on writing a good resume that offers you some important tips.

In the flow of a resume, at the top of it you may have your resume objective, a resume headline and the professional summary.

We’ve got the first two covered, so now you’re probably wondering how you deal with writing a summary of your professional skills. You’ve probably got questions like:

  • What is a professional skills summary?
  • How should this section look?
  • Is this section really needed in my resume?

Now, we’re going to and these, and some other burning questions you’ll have. Once they’re all answered, we’ll show you some really strong examples of the “Summary of professional skills” section in your resume.

Let’s jump right in…

A Summary of Professional Skills Section - What is It?

This section has a few different names. It’s usually called a summary of professional skills, but you may also know it as “Qualifications Summary” or “Career Summary”. This part of your resume is optional, and is customized and inserted near the start of your document.

When you decide to include this section, it’ll normally have 5 or 6 bullets that draw attention to how

  • Authoritative
  • Creative
  • Efficient
  • Managerially effective
  • Communicable

You are.

Meaning that…

The primary goal of your summary of professional skills is showing the recruiter your skills and achievements at a glance, without delving into everything else you’ve written.

It’s the resume version of a movie trailer or the back cover of a book.

How you order your bullet points is up to you, but it makes sense to add the points most relevant and most impressive first, depending on the role you’re going for. By putting things pertinent to the job you want first, you’re more likely to draw in your reader.

To break it down for you…

The professional summary on your resume has in it:

  • The key things you’ve achieved in your career
  • Your hard-earned skills
  • Details about your experience
  • The relevant qualifications for the job you’re applying for

It’s the highlights of your professional life; your skills, experience, and achievements that show you’re perfect for the available job.

When you’ve got great experience to talk about, this section is perfect to make your resume stand out. However, if you’re changing the direction of your career, you’re probably going to want to use a resume objective instead.

That’s coming later…

Pro-Tip
Your summary of professional skills and resume objective aren’t to be confused. The latter is a simple statement in one-two sentences that demonstrates your value and job-getting motivation, whilst your career summary is a bulleted list of your top achievements, skills, experience, and qualifications that are relevant to the job at hand.

Writing a Summary of Professional Skills For Your Resume

Skills Summary tipsSelect the skills and achievements you are proud of and indicate them in your Career Summary section.

There is one key rule…

You use your professional summary to show off the most exciting and interesting elements of your resume.

It’s really that simple.

Well, it may be simple, but there’s still some skill to it, so we’ve got some tips on how to write this section well.

To make it easier, we’ve put together this table as a guide to writing your summary of professional skills depending on whether you’re a recent graduate, an experienced professional, or looking to switch up your career path.

Writing a Summary of Professional Skills - The Rules
Freshly GraduatedExperienced ProfessionalsChanging Careers
Start off with the field you’ve studied, your degree, and your GPA if it’s more than 3.0 Go through the job advert, note the skills they want that you have. Try and find things you’ve accomplished that show you’ve used your skills in other roles Think about how what you’ve done in the past links up to the job you want, or how they could help develop your next employer’s company
Look at the internships you’ve done, your part-time jobs, volunteering, and freelancing, even hobbies; find ways to assign numbers and facts to these. Student councilor? Talk about your vote tally and the 3,000 attendees at the school event you organized Facts and figures say more than words can. Give numbers to quantify your achievements to make your summary of professional skills truly impressive Can’t find any relevant experience in your previous career? Instead, write a resume objective. This will pull out your transferable skills and why you want the job. It also lets you justify the change of industry.

It’s ok to have pride in the things that you’ve achieved! Make sure that you really grasp how what you’ve done before intersects with what your next potential role wants from you.

Pro-Tip
In the same way you make your cover letter match each job you apply for, you want to match your professional summary to every job you’re going for. Make your career summary a strong match to the job description. You can also learn how to make your resume education history shine.

Examples for Summary of Professional Skills

The qualifications summary needs to include a variety of your achievements to impress the recruiting manager. A strong and targeted qualifications summary will make your resume really stand out against the other applicants and make your resume a lot better.

Check out these examples to see what it should look like.

Restaurant Manager Qualifications Summary Example:

PROACTIVE – ENERGETIC – ATTENTIVE
  • Managed restaurant with 60 covers, increasing customer feedback scores from 4.2 to 4.7 within 6 months
  • Overhauled supplier list and inventory management, reducing costs by $3,000 per month
  • Lead a team of 16 waiting staff and four bartenders, with reduced staff turnover covering a two year period
  • Implemented a new cash management system, improving the customer journey and decreasing cash write-offs by 7%
  • Winner of “Best Regional Restaurant 2019” from Best Regional Restaurants Magazine

It’s useful to know that…

Including a summary of qualifications on your resume means it’s more likely to get through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.

To give you a brief idea of what an applicant tracking system (ATS) is…

ATS is a system that companies use to filter through irrelevant applications by assessing the content of submitted resumes. So, whenever you apply for a job online, your cv doesn't go directly to a recruiter or a hiring manager. It's actually being processed by an ATS first.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software filter relevant resumes based on different criteria, one of which is the right keywords.

So it may be a good idea to use specific phrases and keywords from the job description in your resume to increase its chances to get noticed.

That’s why whether or not your resume will end up at that human recruiter's hands depends on how well it's optimized for ATS algorithms.

Remember that it is crucial to have a well-thought-of professional summary on your resume.

To give you some more ideas, here’s another example of a strong, well-structured profession skills section.

Customer Contact Center Advisor Qualifications Summary Example:

PROACTIVE:
  • Recognized as “Best Sales Person” with 300 loyalty card sign-ups in 2018-19
  • Selected as brand ambassador to attend Best Contact Center awards, a statewide industry competition
HELPFUL:
  • Strong problem-solving skills, with first contact resolution levels maintained at 85% or higher month to month
FOCUSSED ON RESULTS:
  • Customer focussed, with multiple social media comments and a customer satisfaction score of 94% or more each month, with 15% of all contacts surveyed
  • Rated as Exceeding based on KPI scored every quarter over three years
Pro-Tip
Your qualifications summary fits into the bigger picture that is your resume. Keep focus across the whole document, check out how to write a resume work history section to keep up the momentum you build in this section.

What’s the Difference Between Qualifications Summary and Resume Objective?

The key differentiator between these two parts of a resume is in how long they are, as well as how they are presented. They serve the same basic function; to give the hiring manager an at-a-glance understanding of what you’re going to be able to add to their company.

For a resume objective, you write one or two sentences of why you’re an outstanding candidate for the job you’re applying for.

When you’re just starting out on your career path, whether getting on the first rung, or a year or two in, use a resume objective. They make it clear what you want and what you can do.

Slightly differently, a qualifications summary is written in bullet point form and puts emphasis on your most important skills and achievements.

Someone with lots of strings to their bow should use this, or if you’re looking to change careers. It helps the hiring manager by saving them from looking through your full work history section to get the measure of you. You’re making their lives easy, and who doesn’t like that?

Put in the hard work to make a great resume objective or qualifications summary, take the weight off the shoulders of the recruiter. They’re going to appreciate your effort and probably call you in for an interview.

Pro-Tip
Need to hit the job market yesterday? Use our resume builder to get yours whipped into shape in no time.

What About the Resume Profile?

Instead of a Qualifications Summary, you may also use a resume profile to give a clear and concise overview of why you’re well-qualified for the job. It’s like a short and sweet version of your cover letter.

Your resume profile can include:

  • Goals
  • Professional experience
  • Education
  • Relevant skills
  • Key projects

Does this seem like it’s come from leftfield? If this feels like a curveball and you’re pondering what the difference is between a resume objective, professional summary and resume profile, worry not!

Difference between first-line resume sectionsIt’s up to you which of these three to use. Just follow the rules of their writing and make them eye-catching.

Here’s everything you need to know…

  • Compared to a resume objective, a resume profile is longer and is there to tell the hiring manager why you’re perfect for the role they’re advertising. Your resume objective is there to show what your goals are when you get the job and with the help of which of your skills you are going to fulfill the goals.
  • A professional summary is showing the recruiter your skills and achievements at a glance, without delving into everything else you’ve written. A resume profile also includes this, plus your professional goals too

Think of it this way; your resume profile is your cover letter if you had to Tweet it.

You can write it as a paragraph, a list with bullets, or mix up the two.

Check out these resume profile examples:

A bulleted resume profile example

Experienced logistics manager with more than 10 years of experience in the field. Keen to shine at Future Forward plc by implementing bespoke solutions, reducing overheads, and managing client relations effectively.
  • Reduced asset downtime by 19% at Moving Ways Ltd
  • Sourced and rolled out new planning software with efficiency savings of $1.2million in the first year
  • Recruited new clients by demonstrating better planning solutions

A resume profile example as a paragraph

Fast-thinking data analyst with two internships and a short-term contract completed. Aiming to provide timely reports with insightful analysis for Data Point Inc by using bespoke programmed query engines. Skilled in managing projects to completion and highly commended at Insights4u for organization and teamwork skills. Designed a new report to allow for better component purchasing, reducing costs by 8%.

Location, location, location…

Your resume profile is important and it needs to be positioned somewhere easy to see for the recruiter.

It needs to be one of the first things they see so put it up at the top of the page, higher than your work history.

Pro-Tip
Write your resume profile to be customized and targeted at the job you’re applying for. You want your profile to be informative and to the point.

Summing Up

By adding a summary of qualifications or career summary into your resume, you’re making it more personal and directed at the job you’re looking to land.

Show off your unique career path, tell your next employer exactly what you’re capable of, and highlight the skills you’ve worked hard to attain. Doing this is going to grab the reader’s interest and make them want to know more and hopefully get you through the door for an interview.

The most important thing to remember is to use the absolute best examples of what you can do from your work history. Figure out what you’re really proud of and use these to write your summary of the professional skills section.

Some guidelines of what you can make a bullet point about are:

  • Show the direction your career has gone so far and where it’s heading
  • Point out how many years of relevant work experience you have
  • Highlight the qualifications you’ve achieved that other candidates may not have

What’s really key is getting your research done before you jump headlong into writing up your professional skills section.

Read up on your ideal job and what it entails.

There’s no point writing a resume for a job when you don’t know what its functions are.

Write out a list of everything that is generally required of someone in the role and what employers want to see in terms of qualifications, these are what you link your career summary to.

Here’s four golden rules to follow…

1Put emphasis on your solid experience
2Be clear and concise
3Make it well structured
4Write about qualifications that are relevant

Once you’re done, put on your hiring manager head, read through your career summary, and ask yourself, “why do I want to hire this person?”

If the answer seems obvious based on the information, you’ve achieved what you set out to do!

Always make sure that you do a thorough proofreading of your resume to pick up on small errors like spelling, grammar, incorrect details, etc.

In a world of text speak and social media, you might not think spelling and grammar are as important as they once were. These little details do count, it shows you care enough about the job to get it right and you’ve not rushed through the process.

Get a second, and even third, set of eyes to look at your resume. Ask someone who’s really hot on their spelling and grammar to check it through for you too, they’ll find every detail!

Finally, our Resume Builder, will help you get a great structure and form to your resume and let you focus on getting your words right!