Make the right impression: résumé tips from Career Development

First impressions are powerful. The restaurants we visit, the places we live, the people we date and the jobs we get after college all have much to do with first impressions. The pressure to make good impressions may seem overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be! While we may not be able to help you get the girl or discover your new favorite takeout spot, we can help you land the job. After all, first impressions during the hiring process are black and white — when you submit a killer résumé! Revitalize your résumé with these seven tips from SAU’s Office of Career Development:

1. Don’t underestimate the value of a quality education.

Earning a college degree is no small task. Take pride in your hard work by featuring your education on the top of your résumé! Aside from showing off your Cougar spirit, this has the advantage of showing potential employers the information that they want to see (whether or not your education meets the job’s requirements) right away.

2. Think like a journalist.

The second, and largest, section of your résumé is where your relevant experience should live. The key to ordering your experiences according to relevance is the inverted pyramid, a model used by journalists as they craft pieces with the most important details at the top. Don’t bury your pertinent summer internship at the bottom of the page — move it up! Imagine which of your work, volunteer and academic experiences will most convince the hiring manager that you’re the best fit for the position, and then rank them in order of relevance on the page.

3. Let your actions speak louder than your words.

Or, in this case, let your action words speak louder than your non-action words. Bring life to each of your experiences by creating bulleted lists that spotlight your most important responsibilities and accomplishments. Challenge yourself to begin each phrase with a strong verb. Words like “enhanced,” “incorporated” and “moderated” are all welcome here. Place this information below each respective listing on your résumé, and remember to keep your résumé to one page! Short and sweet is the way to go, when listing your experiences.

4. Take potential employers on a journey. 

Not literally, of course! If crafted well, your résumé will tell potential employers the story of your journey from student to professional. One important chapter in your story will likely be your cross-cultural experience at SAU. Explain how your travels abroad introduced you to new perspectives, cultures and ways of life, and your résumé will be sure to stand out from the stack.

5. Be specific. 

If your résumé includes a “skills” section, focus on enumerating your measurable skills, such as your technical abilities, knowledge of other languages and certifications. Avoid naming “soft” skills, such as communication and leadership. Let your un-measurable skills shine during the interview!

6. Don’t be afraid to be bold.  

Let’s talk about formatting. Let your education and experiences stand out on the page by listing your degrees and job titles in bold. There’s no need to embolden the geographical locations that accompany each listing, as it distracts from the most important information. Send the dates of each experience to the right side of the page for easy viewing.

7. Break the mold.

While creating (or updating) your résumé, say, “No!” to pre-made templates from the web or your word processing software. Don’t try to shape your qualifications to fit these examples. Your résumé needs to be flexible, so that you can easily rearrange it to suit the various positions that you’ll apply for. After all, you’re one-of-a-kind, why shouldn’t your résumé be?

Feeling confident about your first impression? If not, the Office of Career Development is there to help! Schedule an appointment to review your résumé with one of our career advisors by calling 517.750.6711 or emailing

At Spring Arbor University, we work to give our students their best chance at making good impressions (and decisions) as they carry their education and experiences into the world as professionals. Have you visited our beautiful campus? Let SAU make an impression on you. Schedule a visit today.

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