7 easy steps to a Canadian-style resume

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One of the most important parts of your job search is your resume. In Canada, you will need one if you want to be considered for a job. You have two main goals when making a resume: To highlight your experience, qualifications and skills to show that they fit the recruiter’s requirements and to have a resume so compelling that they invite you for an interview.

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

  • Are targeted. You need to tailor it to fit the specific job ad to which you are applying.
  • Use keywords relevant to the job/industry. Most employers use applicant tracking systems or recruiting software to filter candidate resumes.
  • Avoid information that can be grounds for discrimination. This means it should not include information like gender, age, religion, nationality, marital status or race.

7 steps to a Canadian-style resume:

  1. Create a Master Resume

    This is a catch-all file that has all your job experiences, qualifications, education and trainings in chronological order. Having a master file will make it easier for you to sift through your relevant skills and qualifications every time you apply. Just “Save As” each time you make a new resume version. In Canada, you have to customize your resume for each job ad. Never send one general resume for all your job applications.

  2. Start with your Contact Details

    The required information is: Your name, Address, Telephone Number/s, and Email Address. You may choose to add your website address or social media accounts like LinkedIn (if you have). This is placed at the top of the page. Don’t include a picture of yourself unless the recruiter requested for one.

  3. Make your Professional Summary

    This is composed of three to five sentences that summarize your strengths and core competencies. It answers the question “Who am I?” The first statement should pertain to your job title and years of experience. For example: “Sales Specialist with eight years of experience in direct sales”. You can add a statement that highlights your top skills such as: “with proven skills in lead generation and communicating with people from varied cultural backgrounds”. This is also where you can mention your technical skills if they are related to the requirements of the job ad, like “Knowledge in Python and C++ programming languages”.

  4. Your Job Experience

    This is the most important part of your resume. You will need to go back to the job ad. Read and analyze the job description, qualifications and responsibilities. Underline or highlight essential responsibilities and skills required. Take note of the relevant keywords used in the ad. Use these when describing your job experience in your resume.

    • Use a chronological format. Start with your most recent position going back to your earliest job. Limit your list to include jobs you’ve had in the last 10 years. The line should include: Your job title, name of company, location and dates of service (month and year).
      Example: Intern Architect, Atelier School of Architecture (Barcelona, Spain) January 2014 – April 2017
    • Use achievement-oriented statements. Describe your job experience or responsibilities in bullet-points. Recruiters skim, not read so short descriptions would be easier to understand. Follow the format: Action – benefit or result. For example: “Organized sales campaigns helping the company hit $300 million in sales”. As much as possible, indicate figures when you are talking about sales, goals or targets.
    • Use the keywords used in the job ad. Remember to mirror the most important job responsibilities mentioned in the ad in this section.
    • Volunteer experience. You can include your volunteer experience (label it so) especially if the responsibilities and skills you learned from the position connects with the job ad.
  5. Education

    List down your degrees in a separate section. You can also include relevant seminars and trainings. It should indicate your degree, school/educational institution and year graduated in reverse chronological order (the latest relevant degree you finished first). Also mention if you received special awards and honours.

  6. Some do’s and don’ts

    Do’s:

    • Make it short and simple. Your resume should be one to two pages only. It should be clear and easy to understand. Use a simple format and professional-looking font (Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman at 11-12 points).
    • Be consistent. Use the same format and design elements all throughout the document. This will make it look clean and orderly. It will also be easier to understand.
    • Use white space. Observe proper spacing. Use bigger spaces between sections to differentiate them.
    • Use common software. Recruiters usually indicate the document format they prefer. The most common are .doc or .docx or pdf. Make sure to follow this to ensure that the recruiter (or their system) will be able to open and read your resume.

    Don’ts:

    • Don’t write “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume. This is understood. The interviewer will ask for the list when needed.
    • No graphics. Don’t put tables, graphs or photos. These can be rejected by applicant tracking systems.
    • English is required. Don’t emphasize your English proficiency by indicating your IELTS or CLB scores. Recruiters will have no use for them.
    • Outdated skills. Don’t list down “Knowledge of Microsoft Word” or “Typing skills”. It is assumed that everyone knows how to use basic word processing software and type on a computer.
  7. Proofread

    Proofreading is essential before submitting your resume. You should do this several times or with the help of a friend or mentor. Spelling and grammar errors are the most common recruiter pet peeves. Imagine if a single misspelled word ruins your chance at your dream job? That would be heartbreaking! So make sure that you check out every detail and be as meticulous as you can.

    For additional tips on proofreading, read 5 last minute resume checks.

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Community Resources

Also read: 5 tips to tailor and update your resume.

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

If you need more help on crafting a resume, 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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