Adding a Qualifications Section to Your Résumé

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Ask a random cross-section of tech pros whether someone should add a qualifications section to their résumé, and prepare to hear a lot of debate.

The qualifications section, by concentrating your key attributes to a few bullet-points near the top of your résumé, is supposed to spare the overworked recruiter or HR staffer from sorting through the whole document in search relevant skills and experience.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory. But some recruiters argue that qualifications sections are an unnecessary add-on to a document that’s already meant to pithily summarize your skills and background. For professionals new to the tech industry, a qualifications section could also do one a disservice, by highlighting a lack of experience relative to other candidates.

For those with sufficient expertise who want to add a qualifications section, here are some pointers:

  • Keep It Short. As with the rest of your résumé, brevity is key; recruiters and HR staffers will only spend a little time with your documents, and you need to make an impact as quickly as possible.
  • Do (Limited) Bullet Points. Use bullet-points to succinctly convey your skills and experience, but keep them limited in number; think three or four instead of seven or eight.
  • Show How You Can Help. The qualifications section should highlight those abilities that directly serve your prospective employer’s goals and aims; if something’s not relevant to that, leave it off. (It also means you’ll have to customize this section to each prospective employer.)
  • Be Clear. Every bullet point in your qualifications section should focus on something concrete. “Deals with challenges” is too vague, for example. “Delivers projects under-budget and on deadline” is much better.

If you do decide to introduce a qualifications section, the ideal placement is below your personal information (name, address, contact info) but above your work experience. And remember: concentrate on what makes you an ideal tech candidate for that position, not just a good tech pro in general.

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