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Win the Hiring Managers Vote With Your Summary of Qualifications

There is a rule in journalism: put the most important, impactful, sensational content on the first page, “above the fold.” The same rule also applies to resumes: Sell yourself skillfully and effectively in the first half of the first page (because the Hiring Manager may not read the rest!) The Summary of Qualifications is your chance to summarize your solution to the Hiring Manager’s need, in 4 or 5 sentences, at the top of your resume. You don’t want to waste that opportunity with a lame SoQ. A brilliant Summary will probably get the HM to read the rest of your resume – and with a very positive attitude.

Think of the Summary of Qualifications as a snapshot of yourself, geared-up with all the equipment needed to accomplish a task – in other words, with all the capabilities listed to impact the HM’s decision on who can fill this position. It is a vibrant portrait that illuminates your qualifications, and shows proof of your competencies. It must be designed to have the HM nodding her head and shouting YES!

How an SoQ Works

Structurally, the SoQ is not a true paragraph, even though it looks like one. A paragraph treats one theme or idea; an SoQ deals with a collection of your highest level accomplishments and professional traits. It is short and punchy, using power words, but never lapsing into self-adulation. The word “I” is never used, as it is understood that you are writing about yourself.

A strong Summary of qualifications may have different content for different applications, but here is one of the possibilities. Let’s take this example apart, sentence by sentence. It is for an Operations Executive.

“High performance, result-driven Technology and Operations Professional with extensive experience clearing the business path and leading the way. Manages Information Systems, Recruiting, Human Resources, Facilities and Administration, for one of Inc Magazine’s 500 fastest growing, privately held companies. A career demonstrating exceptional leadership and performance in mounting growth strategies, and new levels of productivity and effectiveness. A history of delivering significant bottom line results, building and maintaining key relationships, and creating solutions to issues impacting company objectives. Holds an MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.”

Sentence 1: High performance, result-driven Technology and Operations Professional with extensive experience clearing the business path and leading the way.

Two power phrases: high performance, results-driven. Both speak to the HM’s need for a pro that will take charge, and “drive” results. While this candidate’s job title is Vice President of Operations, he uses a broader title in the SoQ: Technology and Operations Professional. This sets the stage for the HM to think of the candidate as having a broad background. Clearing the business path and leading the way. That is exactly what the CEO wants him to do, and he is saying to her that he can do it.

Sentence 2: Manages Information Systems, Recruiting, Human Resources, Facilities and Administration, for one of Inc Magazine’s 500 fastest growing, privately held companies.

Sentence 2 is an expansion of the first sentence. How does he lead the way? By managing 4 major areas of the company. And the company is one of Inc Magazine’s 500 fastest growing, privately held companies. A company that has really challenged and tested him. And he passed! This sentence could be taken from his Career Accomplishments section.

Sentence 3: A career demonstrating exceptional leadership and performance in mounting growth strategies, and new levels of productivity and effectiveness.

In this sentence he captures the essence of “Making it Happen as a VP”

– exceptional leadership and performance. And this leadership and performance is driving growth strategies and new levels of (employee) performance. He is saying: “Hire me, and I’ll help your company grow and thrive.”

Sentence 4: A history of delivering significant bottom line results, building and maintaining key relationships, and creating solutions to issues impacting company objectives.

In this sentence he says that he makes money, makes friends that help him make more money, and makes problems – that interfere with making money – go away. The 3 Ps on a CEO’s wish list: Profit, partnerships, and problem-solving.

Sentence 5: Holds an MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.

This ending just sweetens the prize for the HM. For at least 2 years, this candidate lived and breathed Business.

Conclusion

You can see that each sentence builds on the one before it, and if there is a single theme, it is Competence. If Hiring Managers had to sum up what they were looking for in one word, many of them would choose the word Competence. Imagine, showing your top level skills and accomplishments in the first 5 sentences of your resume. That should make you happy. The only thing that may dull that happiness is that now, the rest of the resume must live up to the Summary.

Philip Schoen is a resume writer and editor with over 20 years experience making a difference in people’s careers. He is the executive director of ResumeReview.net, a business devoted to making resumes and cover letters the best that they can be. For more articles on managing your career, click the link above.