The resume format in Canada typically follows a particular structure. It’s important that you use this document to highlight your achievements.
While searching for a job in Canada you will need to provide a typed resume. The resume format in Canada is quite different from CVs you may be used to writing in other countries. Bear in mind that you will need to adapt to the Canadian way of presenting your experience and skills.
If you’d like extra help putting your resume together, you can have yours evaluated for free by a Moving2Canada expert. Upload yours here for your free analysis.
LinkedIn is a crucial tool in your job hunt, so ensure you set up an account if you’re looking for professional work in Canada.
What’s different about the resume format in Canada?
Your resume is key to finding employment in Canada. Employers will generally assess your suitability for roles based on this document alone.
The sole objective of writing a resume is to pique the reader’s interest so that you get an interview.
Shift the focus away from telling the employer everything about yourself. Instead, focus on things that will make them believe you can help their company. Differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Your resume format must contain (in this order):
- Contact information
- Professional / career summary
- Work experience
- Education / professional development
Where appropriate, you may also add:
- Technical skills
- Volunteer experience / community involvement
General pointers for your resume format
- A resume is a tool to get you an interview, not a thorough work history document. When you write a resume for Canada, concentrate on presenting the reader the highlights, not every detail. The interview is the time to go into detail.
- Use a professional resume template. Download our Getting Started Guide to get a resume template sent to your email.
- Your resume is the single most important tool to make an impression on employers. If you get bored preparing and reading your resume, then so will your potential employer. Sell yourself to potential employers, who tend to quickly scan this document. Typically, the reader will spend less than a minute browsing your resume, so make it interesting.
- Avoid long paragraphs and small fonts (less than size 10 is not a good idea). Use an easily readable font and make sure that only one font is used throughout. Ensure your resume format style is consistent.
- Do not use first person (e.g. “I am technical”, “I worked at XYZ”). Use short sentences (e.g. “Worked at XYZ”).
- Your resume should typically be a maximum of two pages. If you do not have a lot of experience, then one page should suffice. If you have 10+ years of experience, then three pages is acceptable.
- Don’t waste valuable space. Only list experience relevant for the role to which you are applying.
- Convert all terms to the North American equivalent. For example, use terms like “high school”, “GPA” (Grade Point Average — the equivalent for university grades), “internship”, etc.
- Do not list personal interests or hobbies unless they are achievements that add to your character. Employers don’t care if you like rugby, play piano, enjoy the cinema etc.
- Include relevant skills, such as being able to speak a second language or mastery of particular computer applications. But remember: they must be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Many people blow their chances by sending a weak resume. They send it everywhere possible and wonder why they are not having any success.
Take the time to perfect your resume format and tailor it to the specific job and company. It’s a document that showcases what you have to offer to a potential employer, so make a good first impression.
Ensure you use a nice resume format, that looks well, and have it proofread by an expert in the field. Grammatical and spelling errors on a resume can mean instant rejection. Upload yours here for a free analysis.
Do not list that you are on a “gap year” or “one-year working visa”. Companies want to employ committed candidates who are going to contribute to their success.
You need to give people the impression that you have immigrated to Canada to build a career.
(Note: we are not suggesting you lie to your employer. Canadian employers are wary that workers may leave within a year, so it is best to have that discussion in person where you can tell them you have relocated and intend to stay). Familiarize yourself with Express Entry and the LMIA — the most popular means of staying beyond your working holiday visa.
Other common resume format errors
- Do not include the word ‘resume’ or ‘CV’ at the top of the page, or the date you prepared the document.
- Do not sign your resume.
- Do not list references, or include the line ‘references available on request’. It will be assumed that you have these ready, so don’t waste valuable space on your resume by stating this. Have references’ names and contact details ready to go and make sure they’re willing to speak on your behalf.
- Do not list your date of birth, gender, marital status, or parents’ names. It’s not required under the employment law in Canada, and is not necessary in the Canadian resume format.
- Where possible, ensure you have a Canadian address listed. More importantly, include a Canadian cell phone number.
- Ensure that you have an e-mail address that looks professional. It should be a combination of your first name and last name only. Avoid using foreign domain names. If necessary, set up a new e-mail address for your job hunt.
- Add your LinkedIn profile URL. Customize your URL so that it isn’t as ‘clunky’ as the one that LinkedIn designated for you. You want to make it as easy as possible for the employer to find your profile. Also, ensure it’s up to date and that your profile contains a strong summary.
Professional / career summary
This is a micro resume that will allow the reader to understand what your goals are and how you can help their company.
Three or four short sentences will suffice to set the tone for the detail that follows. Outline what makes you different, whether it is personality, technical ability, managerial skills, team building or some other talents.
Begin by stating your objective clearly. You should list the title of the role you want to target. Being a jack of all trades is not a good thing for an employer. If you want to be a Project Manager, then call yourself a Project Manager. Don’t expect a company to identify what you should be.
If you would like to do two or three different things, then build two or three specific resumes. Follow the correct resume format in each. Listing “Marketing/Admin/Finance Professional” is not attractive, so have a clear focus for the relevant job application.
- Mention how many years of relevant experience you have, what type of experience this is, and your future ambitions.
- Avoid generic comments (e.g. “honest and hardworking professional”) and give the reader a true insight into your strengths and objectives. These should be unique to you, and not things that anyone can write on their resume.
- Mention your career aspirations, whether this is professional designations, supervisory work, managerial work, or other work.
Do not bore potential employers with all of all of your duties at previous jobs. You should include details of relevant roles, and remember that prospective employers will already be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of these roles, so there’s no need to list them.
Use three or four concise bullet points instead of long lists.
Think about key achievements in each previous role, then build each point by highlighting a specific problem you encountered, actions taken, and results accomplished. Stick to this resume format.
Try to link these components, as otherwise you’re just adding uncoordinated or irrelevant content. Every successful problem solved brings either an increase in revenue or decrease in costs. This is how managers think, so speak their language. Differentiate yourself.
Problem/Situation >> Action taken >> Results/Achievement
Problem/Situation — Every action that you take in a job is for a reason. Who asked you to perform this task? What was the objective? What was the background behind the task or the problem you set out to solve? You do not need to list answers to these questions, but this will help you understand the business problem that you are trying to solve.
Action Taken — This is where you incorporate the duties that you took to resolve a problem or situation.
Results/Achievement — Some questions to think about: What would happen if you didn’t perform this task as well? What was the impact of doing the task well? Did you gain recognition for this work? Did it improve efficiency, increase sales, reduce costs or all of the above? Where possible, try to quantify the result in terms of either a percentage, or Canadian dollar value.
Avoid listing trivial duties for the sake of listing them. Try to provide your potential employer with three or four short illustrations of your abilities that showcase what you have achieved in previous roles.
If you’re unsure whether a point you made is useful or not, keep asking yourself “so what?” and try to develop it using the above formula. Explore the impact of your actions and try to bring each point back to a business problem with quantifiable results. Think about the increase in revenues, decrease in costs, or customer satisfaction.
You don’t need to build a bullet point list in this order, but try to incorporate these ingredients where possible:
- Research each role and tailor your resume format to fit the role. The challenge is to present your experience and credentials in a way that clearly outlines your suitability for the position to which you are applying, showing the fit between the position requirements and the assets you bring to the table. Effectively targeting your skills in this way will increase the likelihood of receiving an interview and work in Canada.
- Project Experience. For occupations that are project driven, outlining your projects in a clear manner is key. Do not make a long list of every project. Focus on outlining a few key projects that demonstrate your skills. Remember, you don’t need to tell them everything you have done — you can do this in the interview. Ensure you highlight the project name, outline of project (e.g. if construction then mention commercial, industrial, residential, etc), project duration, the value of the project in Canadian dollar terms and your role.
After you’ve perfected your resume format
When you’re done reading through our tips, be sure to check out our Jobs Board for open positions across Canada.
Don’t forget to download the Moving2Canada Getting Started Success Program today. We’ve packaged templates for a Canadian-style resume format and a cover letter with this download.
The guide will give you exclusive access to our proven techniques for accelerating your job search in Canada. It’s a free comprehensive guide aimed at making your move a success.
And don’t forget – you can upload your resume here free of charge, and receive an evaluation from a Moving2Canada expert.