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Difference Between Summary of Qualifications and Work Experience on a Resume

by Neil Kokemuller, studioD

A summary of qualifications and work history are two common sections on a resume. As the name suggests, a summary of qualifications includes a few sentences denoting specific skills or experiences that qualify you for the intended position. The work experience section includes a history of your professional career.


The summary and work experience sections have complementary purposes. The work experience typically shows the progression of your career, often in a chronological order. It demonstrates what experiences you had, what duties you performed and what you accomplished in each position. The summary of qualifications essentially fills a void usually left by the typical work experience section. It highlights personal qualities and abilities, which are sometimes hard to bring up in your job listings. Skills tied to the job are especially valuable.


When included, both the summary and work experience sections play an important role in accomplishing the resume's purpose of getting you an interview. But the summary is less important. Usually, applicants include either an objective statement or a summary of qualifications first thing on a resume. The work experience section is normally most vital in proving your qualifications for a given position. A hiring manager wants to see if you have the experience necessary.


The placement for each of these sections is also distinct. The summary is the first section. It introduces the reader to your strongest qualities and skills to showcase why you fit well with the job. The work experience usually follows the summary or objective statement. It constitutes a good bulk of the standard resume. The education section follows your work experience and indicates what educational background you have for the position.

Other Differences

The length of these two sections is significantly different as well. The summary is normally three to five sentences, while the work experience section takes up a good portion of the resume. The summary of qualifications has increased in usage in part because of the growth in online resume submissions. Employers sometimes use skills and qualities as keywords when searching online resume databases. Including a summary allows the candidate to incorporate some of these potential keywords.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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