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Your step-by-step guide to making a resume

Your step-by-step guide to making a resume

Artwork by: Alexandra Shevchenko

  • Preparing to make a resume
  • 1. Clarify your job targets
  • 2. Review and reflect on your work history and achievements
  • 3. Study job descriptions
  • How do I make my own resume?
  • Header
  • Professional summary
  • Core competencies
  • Experience/work history
  • Education
  • Optional resume sections
  • What a resume should look like in 2024
  • How long should a resume be?
  • How far back should a resume go?
  • What is the best resume format to use?
  • What design elements do I need to consider?
  • Final touches
  • Proofreading
  • Tailoring
  • Naming your document
  • Key takeaways

Not sure how to write about your professional career? Writing about yourself in a way that is objective and attractive can be a tricky task. This step-by-step guide teaches you how to make a resume guaranteed to attract recruiters.

Crafting a resume can be a daunting task that often stirs up frustration and uncertainty. If you’re like most job seekers, you’ll probably find yourself grappling with questions like, "How do I make a resume that showcases my skills?"  

Learning how to make a resume is not just about compiling a list of past experiences. It’s about strategically narrating a professional story that captivates recruiters in the seven seconds they take to scan your resume. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss: 

  • Preparing to make a resume

  • How do I make my own resume?

  • What a resume should look like in 2024

  • Final touches 

Preparing to make a resume

When you're considering how to make a resume, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s three steps that will help make the writing process easier: 

1. Clarify your job targets

Make a firm decision on the types of roles you’re targeting. This is vital in terms of focusing on the relevant aspects of your career when you create your resume, as well as eliminating any experience that no longer aligns with your career goals.

2. Review and reflect on your work history and achievements

Pull up old performance reviews, letters of recommendation, and previous job descriptions. The key is to take inventory of your skills and achievements so you can effectively tell your story. More importantly, extract all the things from your career that will make you stand out.

3. Study job descriptions

Once you’ve identified your target role, review job descriptions so you can become familiar with the typical requirements associated with these roles. That way, you can tailor your resume to speak to those qualifications. Jot down recurring keywords and phrases for future use.

How do I make my own resume?

Now that we’re prepared, it’s time to start writing. Let’s break down each section of the resume and how you can optimize its content for maximum impact:


Introduce yourself by starting with your name and contact information. Make your name the biggest component on the page and provide accurate contact information, including a professional email address, cell number, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio link.

Copyable example: Header

MARSHA COX [email protected] | 444-555-9920 | City, State | linkedIn.com/in/marshac

Professional summary

Directly following your header, create a resume title and power statement. The resume title should align with the roles you’re targeting, and the power statement is a unique brand statement that differentiates you from other candidates. Think of this like a newspaper headline and teaser to a juicy story that will intrigue the recruiter to want to read more.

Copyable example: Professional summary


Innovative creative with six years of success developing new business opportunities and generating unprecedented brand awareness via engaging marketing strategies.

Then, create a paragraph summary. This is a critical section to get right when you make a resume. It’s one of the first things the reader will see and can make or break their desire to continue reading. Start strong by summarizing your skills, expertise, and any other differentiating factors you want them to know in three or four compellingly compact statements. 

Some elements to include in your summary are specialist skills and talents, expertise, achievements, and credentials. There is no need for any “I,” “we,” or “they” pronouns as you (the subject) is understood. Remember, this is your time to shine. So, incorporate only the most relevant information about you for the biggest impact.

Copyable example: Summary paragraph

Visionary technology leader with 15+ years of experience and a track record of saving millions by delivering innovative technology solutions that optimize operations. Adept at streamlining internal systems and maximizing productivity via robust product, service, and solution development strategies. Proven success leading IT operations, including project management, implementation, change management, and support.

Core competencies

Closely following your summary, it’s customary to create a section dedicated to your core competencies. It always makes sense for the essential hard skills (industry-specific) to take precedence over soft skills (leadership, teamwork, etc.) on your list. Review the job description for repeated and emphasized keywords as this helps ATS-proof your resume and shows that you’re in touch with employer priorities.

Copyable example: Areas of expertise
  • Marketing Plan Development

  • Data, Metric & ROI Analysis

  • Promotional Campaigns

  • Paid Advertising

  • Market Research

  • Media Relations

  • Content Curation

  • Brand Building

  • Stakeholder Engagement

Experience/work history

Strategic, selective, and specific are your guideposts for impressing hiring managers when you make a resume, particularly when writing your employment history. The more extensive your work experience, the more selective you must be in describing beneficial outcomes that you’ve achieved. 

Your ability to pinpoint what your next bosses are keenly interested in can be a game changer. Success stories depicting professional prowess can help them picture you replicating those outcomes on their team. Dig deep enough to outshine others vying for the same position.

Expert Tip

Start a brag book

Keep a running journal of on-the-job successes, so it’s easier to recall your achievements when updating your resume. Note confidence boosters as they happen, such as tasks well done and accolades won, with details about measurable outcomes for easy reference.

In reverse chronological order, list your past jobs, specifying the title you held, company name, location, and years of employment. If the role was in the past, use past tense. If you’re describing your current role, use present tense.

Outline the day-to-day specifics of your job in a short paragraph of no more than five lines. This is a great opportunity to showcase the level at which you operate with quantifiables. For instance, don’t just say you lead a team. Clarify how many and what type of team you lead. If you managed a budget, give specific numbers. Be careful not to disclose any proprietary information though, in line with any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements you’ve signed.

In the absence of hard data, give indications of scale and capacity, such as facility size, production volumes, number of customers served, or new employees onboarded. And if exact numbers are unavailable, it’s fine to give ranges or approximations.

Copyable example: Employment history

Prime Group Inc. | Things Remembered, Inc., Scottsdale, AZ District Manager (2019 to Present)

Steer daily operations across 21 locations with annual volume of $23M, while concurrently overseeing 15 subsidiaries with annual volume of $16M. Orchestrate staffing of store management positions and deliver high-quality training in line with company policies. Protect company assets through execution of safety and inventory recovery.

  • Awarded Top 10 Sales Performer in three consecutive years across both businesses.

  • Slashed costs by $500K via AI automation and machine learning for predictive analysis and demand forecasting.

  • Established robust training programs, facilitating the development of seven Area Managers to district level.

Once you’ve spelled out your duties, provide a bulleted list of accomplishments. These are outcomes that have been beneficial to the organization. These could be generating revenue, streamlining processes, winning awards, boosting productivity, or growing the customer base.

When writing achievement bullets, start with an action verb for maximum impact. Also, lead with the results when you have an impressive metric to show off. 


The prominence, amount of detail, and emphasis in your resume’s education section will vary depending on the occupation, industry, career stage, and hiring requirements. Generally, the more work experience job seekers acquire over time, the less important this section becomes when making your resume. 

But for those new to the workforce, or in certain fields (e.g. scientific), more extensive education details may be necessary, and this will usually be placed above the employment history section. 

Copyable box: Education and credentials


Master of Arts in Special Education | 2016 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) / Program in Applied Behavior Analysis | 2015 Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL

Member, Special Education Advisory Committee, State of Nevada

Organize your education section in reverse chronological order, from highest to lowest level. Besides college degrees, list any relevant technical or vocational programs you’ve completed, as well as management courses. The same goes for licenses, on-the-job training, and any self-initiated courses focusing on specialized competencies; this includes workshops, seminars, boot camps, or certification programs.

Optional resume sections

When it’s not possible to incorporate certain details anywhere else and the information is relevant and adds value, you can add any of these optional resume sections: volunteer work, projects, publications, and patents. 

Add internship experience only if you have little or no professional experience. Certifications and awards, if not included in other sections, can go here as well as professional affiliations and memberships, industry contributions, or speaking engagements. Although it’s sometimes listed with skills, languages fit here too.

What a resume should look like in 2024

How many times have you heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Unfortunately, we all do it, recruiters included. The layout of your resume is like a book cover. They might not admit it, but employers do pass judgment based on how it looks before reading a word.

So, how do you make a resume that attracts attention? Looking the part of the perfect hire is all about making the stylistically-sound choices involving layout, design, and formatting elements. Strive to ensure these elements are consistent and compatible with the role and industry you’re targeting. From casually relaxed to the edgier side of modern, find a style that fits you, the job, and the industry. 

How long should a resume be?

Generally, a one-page resume is recommended for individuals entering the workforce with minimal experience. For professionals with a lengthier career history, a two-page resume is expected.

Three pages are acceptable for high-level executives with expansive work histories. Anything beyond that is too long and it’s time to look for ways to scale it back. Cut extraneous or redundant information to save space. Remember, this is a marketing tool that does not need to list every detail of your work history. 

How far back should a resume go?

When determining how far back your resume should go, consider relevance and the level of experience. Generally, it's advisable to focus on the past 10-15 years of your work history. This ensures that your resume emphasizes recent and pertinent experience. However, if you have noteworthy achievements or roles earlier in your career that directly contribute to your current career goals, you may choose to include them. 

What is the best resume format to use?

Anyone whose work history follows a linear path can and should use the reverse chronological resume with a powerful, professional summary. As the most common and familiar way to showcase your professional experience, it’s suitable for the vast majority of job seekers in any field and is also preferred by recruiters. 

Once a popular option for entry level candidates, career changers, or independent contractors, functional resumes tend to be frowned upon because the reader can’t tell where and when you used specific skills. They also won’t be effectively parsed by ATS software, so use with caution.

What design elements do I need to consider?

Funky, frivolous, or flashy is never a good look, but flawless always is. And you’ll never go wrong with a clean, simple, and uncluttered resume because it’s easy on the eyes and inviting to read. But that need not be synonymous with bland and boring. Sparing graphic touches and splashes of color can provide eye appeal without detraction. Use formatting strategies like bold to make it easy for recruiters to find the details they seek. 

Incorporate white space so the document is easy to scan. Adjust line and paragraph spacing so it’s not too tight. Your choice of resume fonts should always be guided by reader-friendliness. Stay with the same font style and size (10-12 pt) for all of your body text, and no more than one different style and size (14-16 pt) for section titles.   

Sans-serif font styles are cleaner and more modern while serif fonts are more formal and classic. Stay away from cursive or block fonts as they can be hard to read or distracting. Serif fonts are Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, and Book Antiqua. Sans-serif fonts include Calibri, Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, and Lato.

Resume templates images

Final touches

Finalizing your resume involves crucial finishing touches that can elevate it to the next level. The last steps in making a resume for a job include:


Now, it’s time to enlist someone else to be the perfectionist. Ask at least one dependable friend or colleague to scour for common mistakes. Don’t rely on spell-check and grammar apps to catch everything. Watch for inconsistencies too: capitalization, periods ending bullet points, date formats, and the like. Revise, correct, and proofread again.

Statistical Insight

According to a 2022 study analyzing 92,000+ resumes, almost two-thirds (63.6%) contained at least one spelling mistake and 13.5% contained five or more errors. While spelling mistakes were the most common error, using British English spelling also ranked highly.


Before applying to new career opportunities, tweak your resume to fit the employer’s specific requirements. Customizing tells hiring managers two things: you’ve done your homework and you’re serious about the job. 

Naming your document

When naming your resume file, include your first and last name. You can also add the job title you’re applying for. Something like, John-Smith-Project-Manager-Resume works great.

Although you know how to make a resume step by step, check out Career.io’s resume builder for a variety of resume options and templates tailored to suit your individual circumstances. 

Key takeaways

  1. When considering how to make a resume, start by clarifying your job targets, reflecting on your work history, and studying relevant job descriptions.

  2. Ensure each section is optimized for maximum impact. Showcase your professional journey strategically, emphasizing achievements and tangible outcomes.

  3. Your resume's layout, design, and formatting contribute to the first impressions recruiters make. Strike a balance between stylish and professional.

  4. Don’t forget those final touches, including tailoring your resume to the job opening, proofreading, and naming your document appropriately.

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