A reader asks, "I am applying for a position with a company that, in addition to a cover letter and resume, they ask for a statement of qualifications. What is this?"
My response: First, let's be clear on what they are asking for. A "statement of qualifications" is often confused with a "summary of qualifications." The first has to do with business writing - it's a document written with detailed information about an organization, usually to attract investors and donors. The latter deals with resume writing and is typically what a prospective employer would ask for. It takes up the top third of your resume.
Here are a few suggestions to help you write a summary of qualifications that grabs the attention of a prospective employer:
1. Keep It Brief and Relevant
A well-written summary of qualifications (also called a profile) will be brief and concise, and will highlight the skills (i.e. "proficient in Microsoft Office") and traits (i.e. "dependable") you have that are relevant to the job to which you are applying. Three to five lines in paragraph form is plenty. This is a good replacement for the generally obtuse objective statement and is usually placed at the top of a resume.
2. Follow It Up with Your Success Stories
If you really want to articulate why you are a great fit for the position (and of course you do), follow up the summary of qualifications with a short bulleted list of accomplishments that again relate to the job to which you are applying. Be sure to include the results of those accomplishments and quantify those results with numbers, dollars and percentages (i.e. "safety record earned," "time saved," "customer service improved," and "sales increased").
3. Help Them 'Weed You In' (Rather Than 'Weed You Out')
Many employers are receiving hundreds of resumes for one position, so they typically spend just a few seconds scanning a resume to determine if it is worth reading more carefully. That means the top third of your resume or summary of qualifications is precious real estate, and needs to capture their attention.
A well-written summary of qualifications, along with a list of three to five quantifiable, relevant accomplishments, equal a powerful argument for the employer to read your full resume. As they read on to learn about your work history, education, and other details, hopefully they'll decide they simply must call you in for an interview.
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