How to Write a Canadian Style Resume
Step into the Canadian job market with confidence.
Having a record of your work and accomplishments is essential to securing employment in Canada. This comprehensive guide equips you with tbest practices on how to craft a compelling Canadian-style resume, including language and style tips, where to find help, useful tools, and more.
Table of Contents
- What is unique about the Canadian resume format?
- What should I include in each key section of a Canadian resume?
- Is accreditation important when writing a Canadian resume?
- How can I highlight my skills in a Canadian resume?
- What language and style considerations should I keep in mind?
- How can I tailor my resume for each job application?
- What are common mistakes in Canadian resumes and how can I avoid them?
- Who can help me prepare a Canadian-style resume?
- What tools and resources can aid my Canadian resume writing?
- Contact CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
In this guide, we provide you with detailed instructions on how to create a successful Canadian-style resume. You'll learn about the standard Canadian resume format, what key sections to include, language and style tips in writing, and how customising your resume for each application can help increase your chances of landing the job.
For more on finding and securing employment in Canada, you can visit our dedicated webpage here.
What is unique about the Canadian resume format?
A Canadian-style resume has certain formatting elements that are unique to Canada. Here are the key features:
- Removing photos and personal identification: It is customary to leave out photos, as well as personal details such as age, birth date, gender, or identification information;
- Length: Ideally, a Canadian resume is one page long, although senior positions may extend to a maximum of two pages;
- Format: The preferred format is paragraph style, without using columns of information—though depending on role and context the latter is not unacceptable;
- Resume header: At the top of the resume, include a header with your contact details, such as name, address, phone number, and email. You can also include a link to a relevant social media profile(s);
- Professional summary: Directly below the header, you can include a professional summary that highlights your career accomplishments and skills related to the position. Customise this section for each job application.
- Work experience: Many candidates in Canada list their work experience starting with the most recent position. Include job titles, dates of employment, company names, locations, and a brief description of relevant duties, skills and achievements;
- Relevant areas of expertise: Another optional detail is to add this section before the work experience. List specific skills relevant to the position, providing examples of achievements and quantifiable results whenever possible; and
- Education: The final section includes education, including degrees, educational institutions, and graduation years. Include any relevant training, courses, or seminars. Start with the most recent degree and list them in chronological order.
In terms of structure, there are two common types of Canadian resumes:
- Chronological resume: This format emphasises work experience, starting with the most recent position and listing previous jobs in chronological order. Typically, include the last 10 years of relevant experience, and include any relevant volunteer experience.
- Functional resume: This format focuses on skills and abilities relevant to the position, rather than work history. Highlight critical skills or characteristics mentioned in the job description. If using a functional resume, include the work history section after the skills section.
What should I include in each key section of a Canadian resume?
Here are some of the key sections of your resume and things to include for each:
- Header: This can include your name, contact information (phone number, email address), and optionally, a link to your professional social media profile (e.g., LinkedIn).
- Professional Summary/Objective Statement: A concise paragraph highlighting your skills, experience, and career goals. It is generally advisable to tailor this section to match the specific job you're applying for.
- Work Experience: List your previous jobs in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Include the job title, company name, location, and dates of employment. Describe your responsibilities, achievements, and contributions using bullet points.
- Skills: Highlight your key skills relevant to the job. This can include technical skills, software proficiency, language proficiency, and any other abilities that showcase your qualifications for the position.
- Education: Here you can provide information about your educational background, including degrees, diplomas, certifications, and relevant coursework. Include the institution name, location, and graduation year.
Some optional information sections that you can include on your resume are:
- Achievements/Awards: If you have notable accomplishments or received awards related to your work or education, mention them in this section.
- Certifications/Training: Include any relevant certifications, licenses, or training programs you have completed.
- Projects/Portfolio: If applicable, showcase any relevant projects or a portfolio of your work that demonstrates your skills and accomplishments.
- Volunteer Work/Community Involvement: If you have volunteered or participated in community activities that are relevant to the job or showcase your character and values, mention them here.
- References: It's common to write "References available upon request" instead of listing them directly on your resume. Be prepared to provide references when requested.
Is accreditation important when writing a Canadian resume?
If you are an individual with foreign (outside of Canada) education or work experience that is applicable to your field, accreditation is very important—Both in terms of writing an effective resume, but also as a bottom line to be eligible for, and secure jobs in Canada.
Accreditation can be done through a number of avenues, with slightly varying step depending on the field, education/experience, (and country where these credentials were achieved) that you are trying to get accredited for in Canada. For more information specifically on professional accreditation in Canada, visit the government's dedicated webpage here.
To learn more about how to get your educational credentials assessed, visit our dedicated webpage here.
How can I highlight my skills in a Canadian resume?
Highlighting skills in your Canadian resume can often come down to a few essential sections, and the strategy that you employ in presenting your experience. Some general best practices for effectively highlighting skills in your resume are:
- Qualifications Summary: Creating a section dedicated to showcasing your relevant credentials and skills. Customise it for each role you apply to and include three to five notable skills that align with the job requirements;
- Relevant Skills: Highlighting three to four key skills and providing explanations on how they are applicable to the position. Using specific examples from your previous roles can demonstrate how you utilized or developed these skills;
- Work Experience: If you have work experience, you could consider including one or two relevant examples of times when you used your needed skills to positive effect. Focus on the impact you made rather than listing job duties or dates of employment; and
- Education: It is generally advised to keep the education section simple, ensuring it doesn't overshadow your skills. Include the degree or diploma type, major, school name, city, province/territory, and the date of program completion.
What language and style considerations should I keep in mind?
Apart from the already stated, there are some basic language and style considerations that you can give additional thought to, when perfecting your resume:
When developing a Canadian style resume, it is worth considering various style and language aspects that can enhance its effectiveness. One important consideration is the use of action words and active voice to showcase your accomplishments and highlight your proactive approach. By incorporating this language, you can create a strong and impactful impression on potential employers.
For example, one simple change is instead of saying: “At my previous workplace, a lot of the planning work were done by me”, you could instead say: “I did a lot of the planning work at my previous workplace”.
Additionally, maintaining a professional and positive tone throughout your resume is highly recommended. This can help convey confidence and enthusiasm while presenting your qualifications and achievements. Furthermore, adhering to Canadian spelling and grammar norms is advisable to ensure your resume appears polished and professional. Consistency in spelling, punctuation, and grammar demonstrates attention to detail and enhances readability.
How can I tailor my resume for each job application?
Tailoring your resume to the specific job that you are applying to can often be advised, as it helps recruiters better understand how you are a good fit for the company, and helps job searchers pass screening checks that utilise Applicant Tracking Systems.
There are certain strategies and best practices that you can employ when trying to tailor your resume to a specific job posting. These strategies include:
- Above all being truthful—if the job truly is not a good fit, this fact will likely come out during the interview process, or worse, in the course of your new job. Lying to get hired is never advisable and under certain conditions can constitute a criminal offence;
- Understand the job description: Carefully read the job posting and identify the required qualifications and skills. Take note of specific keywords and phrases used throughout the description.
- Match your qualifications: Review your general resume and compare it to the job requirements. Place your key qualifications prominently in the top half of your resume, such as in the summary and experience sections. Use a format (e.g., reverse-chronological, functional, or combination) that highlights your most relevant experiences.
- Update your summary: Customise your summary section to showcase your most relevant skills and accomplishments using the keywords from the job description. Include the job title you're applying for to personalise your resume.
- Customise your work history: Tailor your work history section to highlight experiences that align with the job requirements. Remove or minimize positions that are less relevant. Use the job description's keywords in the bulleted lists and prioritise the most relevant responsibilities or tasks.
- Include measurable results: Enhance your experience section by incorporating quantifiable data and achievements that demonstrate the impact you made in previous roles. Highlight specific results and outcomes to showcase your value.
- Update your skills section: Add any remaining relevant skills to your skills section, prioritising those mentioned in the job description. Include preferred skills that can differentiate you as a top candidate.
- Proofread and align: Carefully proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors. Ensure that the language you use aligns with the keywords and phrases from the job description. Check if your summary accurately reflects the job requirements and if each bullet point in your work history relates to the job responsibilities.
What are common mistakes in Canadian resumes and how can I avoid them?
Some common mistakes that newcomers can make when trying to write an effective Canadian resume include:
- Using the same resume for different job applications: It may be tempting to use a generic resume for multiple positions, especially when applying to numerous jobs. However, customizing your resume for each job significantly improves your chances of being selected. Look for keywords in the job posting and incorporate them into your resume. Also, include relevant experiences and remove non-essential items.
- Not reading the job description before creating your resume: Reading the job description provides valuable information about the role and the ideal candidate. It helps you tailor your resume accordingly and include keywords that match the job requirements. Balance the use of keywords for the applicant tracking system (ATS) while ensuring readability for human recruiters.
- Listing job responsibilities instead of achievements: Canadian resumes focus on highlighting achievements rather than just outlining responsibilities. Emphasize what you brought to a company or team as an individual, mentioning accomplishments, numbers, data, or challenges overcome. Stand out from other applicants with similar experience by showcasing your unique contributions.
- Creating a resume that's too long or too short: The length of your resume depends on the specific job and your work experience. Generally, resumes should be one to two pages long. If you have more experience, a two-page resume is acceptable, while one page is suitable for those with less experience. Tailor your resume by removing early-career experiences as you progress in your career.
- Not using action verbs: To make your resume impactful, use action verbs that demonstrate your initiative and achievements. Avoid passive phrases and instead use verbs like "led," "managed," "succeeded," "surpassed," "created," and "delivered." Vary your word choices to avoid repetition.
- Submitting a cluttered or improperly formatted resume: Organizse your resume in a clean and easy-to-read manner. Use sufficient white space, appropriate line spacing, and consistent fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri). Avoid mixing fonts, excessive bolding, underlining, or italicising.
- Listing inaccurate contact information: Ensure your contact information is accurate and up to date, including your phone number and email address. Use a professional email address formatted with your name, avoiding nicknames or slang language.
Who can help me prepare a Canadian-style resume?
There are a variety of resources that newcomers can avail when looking for resume help in Canada, including newcomer settlement organisations, university career centres, and non-for-profit organisations.
Canada has an extensive network of immigrant serving organisations—funded by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) federally, or through provincial and municipal governments—that work to aid newcomer settlement in a variety of areas, including employment help (at little to no cost for newcomers).
These organisations offer a variety of settlement services towards finding a job, often aiding with resumés as well. In fact, (depending on your status in Canada, and your location) you could receive not just resume development and critiques, but also mock interview help, attend skills building workshops receive job-specific language training, and more.
Note that on the national level, newcomer services are only available to permanent residents, protected persons, and some temporary residents—however because these services also operate at the provincial and municipal level, depending on your location you may qualify for settlement assistance even as a temporary resident on a study or work visa. To best understand whether you qualify, it is advisable to contact the specific immigrant serving organisation you would like to receive service from (prior to your visit) to clarify your eligibility and see what services you can avail. For more information on free settlement services for newcomers in Canada, visit our dedicated webpage here.
In addition to this, international students in Canada will be able to avail employment help from their university or college career centres. These centres are designed to help current students and new graduates with finding employment, often offering them interview and resume training, along with networking and recruiting events, alumni connections, access to mentors and more.
Lastly newcomers who don’t fit into eligibility for either category may want to pursue help with a Non-For-Profit (NFP) or Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in their area, to avail employment help. Many of these organisations work to help the community at large, so newcomers may also be eligible, depending on the organisation. These services can be especially potent at securing employment in the specific area or region that the specific NFP or NGO serves and can often have experience and skill with helping newcomers to Canada as well.
What tools and resources can aid my Canadian resume writing?
There are a multitude of online tools and resources that job applicants can use when writing their resumes, aiding everything from content to design of their documents. Some of these include:
- Canva: Much like Flow CV, Canva can help with designing your resume—however the online program provides much more customizability and freedom in terms of editing resume layouts and designs;
- ChatGPT: The AI chatbot can be a powerful tool, both when writing a compelling resume, but also when applying to jobs. You can read our article full article on the benefits of ChatGPT for job seekers here.
- Flow CV: Flow CV works specifically on designing your CV or resume, with a variety of themes, templates, and colors to choose from, and an easy upload function to start customizing your resume, this free tool can help distinguish you from the pack;
- Indeed career services: offering everything from automated resume analysis, to expert resume help (for a fee), Indeed has an extensive range of career services specifically oriented to writing effective resumes and job applications;
- Resume.io: Another online resume writer, resume.io is a website that aids job applicants in writing better resumes. The site features cover letter options, pre-written AI phrases, multiple formatting options, automatic summary generators, and more; and
- Rezi: An AI powered resume tool that critiques your writing and looks to optimize resume content for specific jobs. Rezi is a powerful and low-cost tool to improving resume content and design.
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