10 steps to a Canadian-style resume

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The most important part of your job search is your resume. In Canada, you will need one if you want to be considered for a job. Ideally, it should:

  • showcase your experience, qualifications, and skills in a single page (or two pages at the most). Recruiters use less than 10 seconds to scan each resume.
  • be error-free in terms of grammar and spelling.
  • look professional and organized. This means using easy to read, formal fonts (such as Times New Roman, Arial or Garamond, 11-12 points) and a clean, logical layout.

To get a general idea, watch this short video from Prepare for Canada featuring an HR expert:

A Canadian-style resume might be different in style and format to what you are used to in your country. Mainly, Canadian resumes

  • are targeted. They highlight the job experience most relevant to the job opening.
  • use achievement-oriented statements in bullet-points.
  • use keywords relevant to the job/industry in case the recruiter uses applicant tracking systems or recruiting software to filter candidate resumes.
  • do not disclose personal data like gender, age, religion, race, etc.

Here are the 10 steps to crafting a Canadian-style resume:

  1. Create a Master Resume

    This is a catch-all file that has your complete job experience, qualifications, education and trainings all in chronological order. Having a master file will make it easier for you to sift through the relevant skills and qualifications you have and edit them accordingly every time you apply for a job (just “Save As” each time you make a new one).

  2. Customize it

    This means highlighting only the relevant parts of your job experience and qualifications to fit the requirements in the want ad. At this point, you should choose what type of resume most appropriate to use. It is essential that you read and analyze the want ad and underline the job responsibilities and skills required (as well as the relevant keywords to use) so that you can link them with your job experience, skills and qualifications.

  3. Start with Contact Details

    This is a no-brainer, but there have been people who have forgotten to include this part. The required data are: your name (usually First, Middle (optional) and Last Name), Address, Telephone Number/s, Email Address and Website Address or LinkedIn Address (if you have). This is placed at the top of the page. Don’t include a picture of yourself (unless they requested for one).

  4. Next, the Profile Section

    Profile statements are three to five sentences that summarize your strengths and core competencies. The first statement should pertain to your job title and years of experience. For example: “Dynamic, creative and highly organized Sales Specialist with eight years of experience in direct sales.” The next statements should highlight your top skills such as “Experienced in interacting and communicating with people from varied cultural backgrounds.”

  5. Relevant experience first

    The next section is where you list down your most relevant job experience. Start with the job title, then company, years of service and location. Then enumerate in bullet-points what you did in the following format: Action – benefit or result. For instance: “Wrote advertising copy and informational articles to increase product awareness”; or “Organized sales campaigns helping company hit $$$ million in sales.” As much as possible, indicate figures when you are talking about sales, goals or targets. Also, limit your list to include jobs you’ve had in the last 10 years.

  6. Then, your other experiences

    This is a separate section where jobs you have held that are not directly related to the one you are applying for are enumerated. For instance, you may have had a brief stint as a call centre representative but are applying for a teaching position. It is important to include this because it explains gaps in your career history and shows additional skills. Your volunteer work or internships can be mentioned here or in a separate section.

  7. Education

    Educational background is next. You can also include trainings or create a separate section if they are too many.

  8. Awards and achievements

    If you have achievements relevant to the job you are applying for, you can mention them in the profile section or right after it to command attention.

  9. Don’t list down your references right away

    Some write “References available upon request” but this is not necessary. Wait to be asked for a list after the interview. List references down on a separate sheet of paper and make sure that you ask permission from them before giving it to your prospective employer.

  10. Get someone to read it

    Ask a friend (or two) to read through your resume and comment on it. A final proofreading is important to prevent lapses in spelling or grammar so that you’ll have an effective, error-free resume that recruiters will notice and snag you that interview.

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Community Resources

Also read 5 tips to tailor and update your resume.

The Young Canadians site (formerly Youth.gc site) has plenty of resources that you can use to help you find work.

Resume writing is part of Manitoba Start’s skills workshops.

If you need more help on crafting a resume, you can attend employment seminars or ask the help of a career counsellor from the Manitoba Jobs and Skills Development Centre nearest you.

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