Time To Update Your Résumé—Here’s One Secret To Use
By Robin Ryan Posted 11-18-2020

Valerie, 59, is a human resources manager, working at a prominent company, who had asked for my help in writing her résumé. She said, “I think now is the right time to polish up my résumé. I see résumés all the time. Thousands have passed through my hands, but when it comes to writing my own, I have a difficult time doing it. A résumé is nothing more than a slick piece of advertisement. But an important piece, especially in today’s job market. I hate to admit it, but I need help writing mine.” 

Many people may be thinking I should update my résumé now. Some Baby Boomers may have been at the same company for a long time, and they realize with so much turmoil and layoffs happening, everyone should be updating their résumé. 

Let’s assume you made it through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), and the HR person or recruiter is now looking at your résumé on their computer screen. An important finding from our national survey of 600 hiring managers was that the most crucial part of your résumé is your Summary of Qualifications section. This section has an incredible impact since employers reported that this was one of the very first areas they read. And, if the briefly stated summary demonstrates solid ability to fill the advertised job, it then causes them to slow down and give that candidate more careful consideration. The average résumé gets a 15-20 second glance to start. So you must have a persuasive résumé that compels the reader to want to learn more about you. 

The Summary of Qualifications is almost like a secret weapon because hiring managers reported that the vast majority of résumés do not contain this vital section. As a résumé writer and career counselor, I never write a résumé without it. Think of it as a mini-outline of you, a highly influential summation containing the big highlights you bring to the job. This section comes early in the résumé after the Career Objective section. It usually consists of four to six sentences that present an overview of your experience, accomplishments, talents, work habits, and skills. 

Here are some examples from my résumés files of clients whose résumé that got interviews. 


Award winning human resources leader with 15+ years of experience providing strategic direction for organization that was recently named a national, best places to work company. Global thinker who contributed to company’s success as a strategic and operational business partner. Display strong entrepreneurial drive having been responsible for delivering new programs, HR systems and major policy enhancements. Repeatedly recognized for innovative leadership and for the ability to improve productivity and enhance each employee’s contributions.


Distinguished leader with ten years of experience in the development and implementation of global communications and marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. Excel at executive coaching, branding, product positioning and product launches. Recognized for delivering superior results that added millions of dollars in revenues to the companies’ bottomline profits.


Project Manager with an engineering background and ten years of proven expertise leading cross-functional product teams from conception through release. Demonstrated entrepreneurial drive with excellent collaboration, consensus building, communications and process improvement skills. Recognized as a leader who can be depended upon on to deliver new innovations, highly profitable business products and technical solutions that exceed expectations.


Award winning hotel general manager having led high-end, chain and boutique properties. Extensive experience as a hands-on manager who repeatedly delivered millions of dollars in new revenues, improved profits, and higher levels of guest satisfaction. Superior business operations and management skills with demonstrated entrepreneurial drive and ability to develop managers and staff members into world class service teams. Excel in marketing, sales, business analysis, process improvements, and team development. Recognized as a leader who can be depended upon on exceed goals and expectations.


Top sales leader focused on team development, improving sales and delivering millions of dollars in new business. Launched 13 new drugs delivering sales results that exceeded quotas and expectations. Exceptional business development skills capitalizing on opportunities others miss. Background includes 10 years of experience as sales rep repeatedly ranking in the top 5% working for large national pharma companies.

There are several ways you can start your Summary of Qualifications section. For example:

· Eight years of Engineering experience in the Automobile Manufacturing environment

· Creative problem solver known for delivering notable cost-savings and operational improvements….

· A XXXXX subject matter expert that delivers exceptional results…. 

· Recognized by management for delivering the highest levels of customer service.

· Senior operations manager with a solid history of delivering technical improvements, productivity enhancements, process improvements and cost savings for employer.

· Award-winning IT support professional with nine years of experience delivering world-class customer service.

The easiest way to create your summary is to write your entire résumé first. Make sure you are emphasizing the results and accomplishments you achieved. Then ask yourself this question: what am I best at? Think about your unique strengths and what supervisors have told you in the past. Write those ideas down. From there, craft your 4-6 sentence Summary of Qualifications. It likely will take you some extra effort but stick with it.  

The Summary of Qualifications, which speaks volumes on consolidating the best you have to bring to the job, is a secret weapon that grabs attention and pulls the employer in for a closer look. Don’t ever send in a résumé without it. 

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

 © 2020 Robin Ryan all rights reserved.

Robin Ryan is America's leading career authority. She's appeared on 2000 TV & radio shows including Oprah, Dr Phil, Cnn, ABC News and NPR. Robin has a career counseling practice working with works with individual clients across the US helping them land better jobs.Robin Ryan is the bestselling author of 60 Seconds & You're Hired!Winning Resumes; Retirement Reinvention; Winning Cover LettersSoaring On Your StrengthsWhat to Do with the Rest of Your Lifeand Over 40 & You're Hired. For more career help visit: www.RobinRyan.com

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