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9 steps to make your resume a success

Dec 2022

Marcie Glenn

Did you know that recruiters spend an average of just 10 seconds looking over a resume? 

Traditionally, January is one of the busiest times of the year for recruitment. With such an influx of applications and resumes, how do you make yours stand out amongst the crowd? The recruiting team at Canva recently streamed a session on LinkedIn offering tips for a successful job search, starting with your resume. Below is a brief summary of our takeaways. 

Before you begin

1. First, you need a good hook

A hook is a writing device that is meant to capture someone’s attention. What from your work experience sets you apart from other candidates? Whatever is most relevant to the position you are applying for, put that first. 

2. Remember your target audience.  

The size of the company may influence the approach you decide to take. How do you determine the appropriate tone of voice to use? Start by researching the company’s website, their blog (usually you can find this under their Resources tab), and their job descriptions. It may also help to visit any social media sites where they are active. 

3. Don’t lose sight of the purpose behind your resume. 

This document bridges the gap between your application and interview. The point of your resume is not necessarily to showcase your personality (use the interview for this), but to exemplify why you are a fit for the role you are applying to. 

4. What are recruiters looking for? 

Transferable skills are abilities or experiences that can be applied in different positions or even industries. Things like emotional intelligence (EQ), communication, and leadership are examples of qualities any company would be happy to have – although there are many, many more! What are the strengths that you can apply to a new role? 

Start here

5. Do a brainstorming exercise

Taking either a piece of paper or opening a blank Word or Google Doc, write down your achievements. What accomplishments are you most proud of? Are there any projects that brought you a sense of fulfillment? If you find yourself getting stuck, asking a friend or family member can often bring you some good insights. 

Doing this exercise will also help you prepare for any interviews, as it will help you identify the main points you need to tell a compelling story. 

6. What was the outcome? 

The Canva recruiting team introduced the simple XYZ technique, where you fill in the blanks with: 

 “I achieved X by doing Y with the result of Z.” 

 If you’re wondering what to say for Z, use metrics such as number of people who attended an event, revenue generated, or increased performance.  

Finally, formatting

7. Length

While there is an ongoing debate, typically a resume that is 1-2 pages long is best for keeping your audience engaged. No matter the length you decide upon, put the most important information on top – you wouldn’t want a recruiter or company to miss that in those first 10 seconds of reading. 

8. Design

Be mindful of maintaining enough white or empty space so that your resume is legible. Giving someone a comprehensive picture of your abilities is good, but not if you can’t read it! Use bold fonts and bullet points to make the text easily scannable. Pro tip: include keywords from the job description illustrating how you have already demonstrated the responsibilities of the role. 

There are endless examples online, but we mention some more creative versions in our blog post, “Is a Nontraditional Resume Right for You? 

9. Quality over quantity

When you take the time to build a clean yet compelling resume, it will show. The last thing you want is to create and save multiple versions of your resume, only to discover you used the wrong keyword here or forgot to switch the order of your job experiences there. If you need a break, come back to your resume later with a fresh set of eyes and you will avoid any oversight. 


If you found the 9 steps above to be helpful for your job search, feel free to comment on what you learned! Do your research on the company and position, practice telling your story, and don’t rush through the process. After all, the right role is worth taking the time to find! 

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