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How to Write a Solid Summary Statement for Your Resume, Part V: Technical Skills and Areas of Expertise


When you’re applying for a job that requires hard skills or hard-won professional talents, it’s an excellent idea to have a special section for those keywords where the reader will immediately notice them.

 

In this post, I’ll explain how to use a Technical Skills or Areas of Expertise section so that your summary statement quickly wins over the hiring manager.

 

Note: This is the fifth post in the series “How to Write a Solid Summary Statement for Your Resume.” If you haven’t read the previous posts, start with Part I for information on why a summary is crucial in representing yourself professionally.

 

As a reminder, here are the three steps to writing a solid summary statement:

 

Step 1: Find a Job Description.

Step 2: Explore your career successes.

Step 3: Write the sections of your resume summary.

 

A resume summary has five parts: the job title line, the summary paragraph or bullet points, the branding statement, technical skills or areas of expertise, and quotes.

 

This post covers Step 3.4, the technical skills and areas of expertise sections.

 

Step 3.4: List your technical skills and areas of expertise.

You might have noticed that the previous post on branding statements contained an example with an Areas of Expertise section. A Technical Skills or Areas of Expertise Section in your summary statement emphasizes proficiencies from your work experience or keywords from the requirements mentioned in the job description.

 

Separating this information from the summary paragraph or bullet points saves the hiring manager time. They can quickly scan through it to determine if you have the knowledge needed for the job.

 

Here is that example again:



See how that text box of skills showcases this jobseeker’s expertise. It immediately tells the reader what she’s all about, aligning her experience with keywords from the job description.

 

A Technical Skills or Areas of Expertise section in your summary statement emphasizes proficiencies from your work experience or keywords from the requirements mentioned in the job description. Separating this information from the summary paragraph or bullet points saves the hiring manager time. They can quickly scan through it to determine if you have the knowledge needed for the job.

 

When deciding which words to include in this section, keep two things in mind. Firstly, having too large of a chunk of keywords in your document could make it look like you’re trying to trick the ATS. This can be off-putting; use moderation with the length of this section. When in doubt, include lower-priority words in your bullet points instead. You don’t want your list to distract the reader from continuing to the meat of your content.

 

Secondly, consider that when you use a list of terms, you must be able to substantiate your proficiency in each one. Repeating these words in your bullet points with correlating accomplishments proves to the hiring manager that you possess the knowledge listed in your technical skills or areas of expertise section.

 

Alternative titles for this section could be Key Strengths, Core Competencies, or Value Offered. You can also create a section listing accolades or awards. What knowledge, skills, or talents do you have that the employer needs? Separating those items into a list organizes your resume, inspiring the hiring manager to think, “This is just the person I’m looking for!”

 

Be aware of the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Some ATS programs read text boxes and tables as graphics. In this case, the words within may not be read by the software. However, since someone may be printing your resume, it could still be reviewed by a human later, and this type of formatting is still valuable.

 

Just use the terms somewhere in your resume bullets as well, so they will be read by the software. Or, if you don’t want to use a text box or table for this, an alternative is to type the words out in a line or two using a border around it and shading like this:

 



 

If the second line is shorter than the first, add a word or two to the second line to even them out. This makes the section more visually appealing and uses valuable space. For this example, I added the term Partnership Negotiations, and the section looks much better:

 




Omit those orphans.

When converting text boxes and tables to lines of text, you may need to delete a word or two to avoid having only one word on a line. Called an “orphan,” this is a resume error. Orphans make your thoughts look incomplete and waste almost an entire line of your resume. Avoid orphans in your summary and resume bullets at all costs.

 

Here’s what an orphan looks like:




Notice that Negotiations starts a third line of terms, but that’s the only word listed. You can fix this orphan by removing the word Legislative from Legislative Lobbying on the previous line, and Negotiations will move back up to the second line, like so:

 



 

When you see an orphan, delete a word or two from your list of terms. Then, write about those words in your professional experience section. You can also condense your text by .1 or .2 in the Advanced tab of the Font section and see if the orphaned word moves up a line.

 

Technology professionals often use skills sections under a summary paragraph to list their technical expertise. A list such as this might be used for a programmer:

 




However, if you want these terms to be read by the ATS, you might want to skip the text box and use this format:




  

Medical professionals requiring certifications and state licensing will want a skills section including their specific certifications with abbreviations and licensure numbers to show the hiring manager they are qualified for the position and their credentials are current.

 

A nursing resume skills section might look like this:





Or, like this:




Including a section such as Areas of Expertise or Technical Skills in your resume summary will help the hiring manager quickly assess whether you fulfill the requirements for the position.

 

In addition to your job title, summary paragraph or bullet points, branding statement, and technical skills or areas of expertise, you may also decide to use quotes in your resume. I discuss this useful section of the professional summary in the final part of this series. Keep reading to create a solid summary section that will get you the interview.

 

 

Want to have all six posts on this topic in one convenient e-book? Download “How To Write a Solid Summary Statement for Your Resume.” (Coming soon.)

 

Need personal assistance with your resume or job search? Book a complimentary consultation today and grow your career with Kristin.




 

Kristin S. Johnson, CJSS, CCMC, COPNS, CG3C, CBBSC

Job Search Coach and Resume Writer






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