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. You will need one if you want to be considered for a job. You have two goals when making a resume: To highlight your experience, qualifications and skills to fit the recruiter’s requirements and to make it so attractive that they invite you for an interview.

A Canadian-style resume:

  • Is targeted. You need to tailor it to fit the specific job ad to which you are applying.
  • Uses keywords relevant to the job/industry. Employers use applicant tracking systems or recruiting software to filter candidate resumes.
  • Avoids information that can be grounds for discrimination. Do 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 master file that has all your job experiences, qualifications, education and trainings in chronological order. This file will make it easier for you to make a tailored resume every time you apply. Just “Save As” each time you make a new version. Customize it for each job ad. Don’t send the same 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 can add your website address or LinkedIn account. Put this at the top of the page.

  3. Make your Professional Summary

    A professional summary 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 be 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 mentioned in the job ad, like “Knowledge in Python and C++ programming languages”.

  4. Your Job Experience

    This is the most important part of your resume. Go back to the job ad and read it again. Pay attention to the job description, qualifications and responsibilities. Underline the most important responsibilities and skills required. Note the relevant keywords used in the ad. Use these when describing your job experience in your resume.

    1. Use a chronological format. Start with your most recent position going back to your earliest job. Limit it to jobs you’ve had in the last 10 years. Use this format: 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
    2. Use achievement-oriented statements. Describe your job experience or responsibilities in bullet-points. Recruiters skim, not read. 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.
    3. Use the keywords used in the job ad. Remember to use the same wording in the description of job responsibilities in the ad.
    4. Volunteer experience. Include your volunteer experience especially if the responsibilities and skills you learned from position is relevant to the job ad.
  5. Education

    Write down your degree, school/educational institution and year graduated. Use the reverse chronological order, meaning the last relevant degree you finished should be written first. You can also include seminars and trainings.

  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.
    • Use common software. Recruiters will mention the document format they prefer. The most common are .doc or .docx or pdf. 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 them when needed.
    • No graphics. Don’t put tables, graphs or photos. These can be rejected by applicant tracking systems.
    • English is required. Don’t mention 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”. Everyone should already know how to use basic word processing software and type on a computer.
  7. Proofread

    Proofread before submitting your resume. Do this several times or with the help of a friend or mentor. Recruiters hate like spelling and grammar errors. Don’t let small mistakes ruin your chance at getting your dream job. For more tips on proofreading, read 5 last minute resume checks.

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Everyday Conversations

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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