Skip to content


Finding work in Canada can be challenging, especially if you’re a newcomer with no family here, or no professional or social ties to assist you.

However, with the proper planning, a clear focus, and a positive attitude, you can overcome many of the obstacles that you may face as you look for your first Canadian job. To give yourself the best chance of landing a great job in Canada, you will need to send a job application with a targeted resume. But what does this mean? And what does a targeted resume and cover letter look like? Let’s find out.

In essence, a targeted job application responds to the specific needs of a specific company or organization. A tailored job application includes a targeted resume and cover letter that is clearly focused and specific to one particular position in the company. One of the biggest mistakes that many newcomers to Canada often make is to blanket bomb countless companies with the same resume and cover letter, and yet expect positive results. I’ve sent 50 resumes, but haven’t even got one interview! This generic approach will almost never prove fruitful and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, your job application should be centered around a detailed, targeted resume and cover letter that will leave a hiring manager speed-dialing your number to set up an interview.

Being diligent and selective are two of the most important skills needed when creating a targeted resume for a job in Canada. But doing so will make sure that you will be noticed for all the right reasons. We know that tailoring your resume for each job requires time and effort, and sure, it may just be easier to create a generic one-size-fits-all resume, but taking the easy option is unlikely to yield many positive results when it comes to your professional fulfillment. It’s like shooting from the half-way line and with one eye closed in a game of soccer. Sure, you might get lucky, but chances are you won’t.

Targeted resumes for Canada

Successful job hunters will adjust their resume appropriately for each job application in accordance with the job requirements. In fact, a small tweak here or there can make all the difference in attracting the attention of key decision makers. Six important points to keep in mind when creating a tailored and targeted resume for Canada include:

  • First of all, date of birth, gender, marital status, or parents’ names are not legal requirements under Canadian law and should not be included in your resume. Neither should a photo.
  • You should state your objective clearly, listing the title of the role you want to target. If you’re responding to a job posting, this role will be the job you’re applying for. 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 – that’s your job.
  • If a job description outlines a specific requirement or qualification, and you fulfil that requirement or hold that qualification, then make sure the hiring manager reading your resume knows it. For example, if a job ad for a web programmer asks for 2+ years of proven working experience rapid web developing, using PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript & MySQL, your targeted resume should outline these exact skills – assuming, of course, that you have these skills. This is just one example, and you’ll see opportunities to tailor your resume to any job in your industry in a similar way.
  • Where possible, include a Canadian address on your resume. What’s more important is that you ensure that you include a Canadian phone number and if you don’t have a dot com email address then consider creating one, or a dot ca option.
  • Add your LinkedIn profile URL. Create a custom LinkedIn profile URL so that it isn’t as ‘clunky’ as the one that LinkedIn designated for you. Remember, making the process as simple and straightforward as possible for the hiring manager could increase your chances of job success.
  • Remember that resumes in Canada are brief, concise documents. 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.
  • Finally make sure to mention your relevant job experience (bonus if it’s Canada specific) and career aspirations but avoid generic comments like “honest and hardworking professional”. The more honest and unique your resume reads, the less likely it will be overlooked.

Targeted cover letters

Much like your targeted resume, creating creating a perfect cover letter is a key part of a job application in Canada, and your cover letter needs to be as focused as possible.

Your cover letter should highlight how you can meet the specific job requirements of the position that you are applying for. It should also clearly state why you want to work for the company, and how the company may benefit from you as an employee. After all, five targeted job applications are generally more effective than 50 generic ones.

Also, it’s almost always possible to find out the name of the appropriate person to send your cover letter to. In a small organization, the person receiving your application may be the Managing Director or someone in another senior role. In a larger organization, it may be more appropriate to send it to the Head of Human Resources or, if there is one, the dedicated Hiring Manager or Head of Recruitment. Dear Patrick is a lot more personal than To whom it may concern. If you don’t know how small or large the organization is, then you probably haven’t yet done enough research for your application to be considered targeted! So start networking, or at least spend some time researching online before sending off your application.

No job ad? No problem!

Ever heard of the hidden job market? While a targeted job application typically means an application submitted for a specific job advertised publicly, there are also opportunities for you to target companies you want to work for. These companies may be happy to receive your resume and cover letter, even though you were never invited to do so. This can open up a whole new world of career possibilities in Canada. What’s the worst that could happen? Dear Katie, Thanks for forwarding your resume. Unfortunately, at this time we are not . . . Hardly the end of the world, is it? And who knows, your unsolicited resume may land you an interview and a great job.

If you are also using this approach, make sure to find out the name of an appropriate person at the company and contact him or her directly. In your cover letter, include details about how you became aware of the company and why you admire their mission and values. Even better, identify something specific they have accomplished recently and use that as a reference point.

And there you have it, some of our top tips on creating a targeted resume and cover letter for Canada. You can find further details on resumes and cover letters in our employment section..

If you have a suggestion of other ways that you can create a targeted resume, send an email to [email protected]. Thank you!

Citation "What does a targeted resume look like?." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation