How to write your job résumé
The job search process in Canada is probably a little different from what you are used to. One of the important elements to get right is the résumé. This is your advert and the first tool in your job search toolkit.
Résumé writing tips
Here are tips to turn your cv into the sort of résumé that Canadians expect.
- Keep your résumé brief. One page is best, two pages if you must. Three only if your skills and experience absolutely require it!
- Use good quality white or off-white paper, and print using a high resolution printer.
- Use one or two fonts at most and avoid the less conventional fonts. The trend in Canada is to use fonts like Arial, Tahoma or Verdana.
- Use bold, italic and underline sparingly and consistently to help highlight the structure of the information. For example emphasize employers and dates in your experience.
- Don’t overcrowd the information. Use spacing and margins to create an open feel.
- Often left-justified text works better than justified (where both left and right edges are straight) because it does not leave awkward gaps between words.
- Check your spelling! (Canadian spelling of course).
- Make sure your name is on the top of all pages.
- If you assume the recruiter is busy and that they will skim through your résumé, then this will help you to organize and format it to make the important elements stand out.
The sections you should include are:
- Contact information
- Job objectives
Make sure your name, telephone number, address and e-mail are correct and clearly laid out. Do not include information on your age, sex, race, religion, marital status, health or physical appearance as employers cannot ask for such information and don’t expect to see it.
Some people feel that this is not needed and is best placed in a covering letter. Wherever it is placed, it is your chance to let your potential employer know what you want from the job. You can show that your ambitions will fit into their organization.
This is where you put all relevant post-secondary education. This should include details:
- Qualification, month/year obtained.
Canadians will not understand UK terms like NVQ’' or City and Guilds, so do not use abbreviations. Translate into Canadian equivalents.
- Course, month/year taken.
Brief synopsis of content, focusing on relevance to job being applied for.
You can present your experience in one of two ways:
Starting with your current position and working back. List your responsibilities (most important first - remember they are skimming!)
This can be a useful way of presenting your experience and tailoring what you write to the post you are seeking. Group together your experience under any headings you choose to emphasize.
This is an optional section but Canadians value community spirit and volunteerism. Putting in professional memberships, positions of responsibility or experience which is relevant to the job can be useful. Don't include things which are not remotely relevant to the job.
It is the usual practice in Canada to send a covering letter. This one page letter summarizes why your experience and education can help the company - sell the benefits that you bring to the company.
It is also very usual for people to drop off their résumés in person. Find out the name of the recruiter if you do not already know. Have your letter addressed to them in person. When you drop off the résumé you can simply ask if you can see the recruiter to hand in the résumé. You will then establish a personal connection with your new employer!
- British Expats Wiki
- Wiki on hiring culture
- Sample Résumés
- Résumé builder on Job Bank