Here are our top tips for a Canadian resume:
1. Size Matters – Keep it Short
Résumés should be two pages at most. Some people say they should be kept to one page, however, two will be accepted.
2. Change your résumé for each job
Copy and paste is your job hunting enemy. Each résumé that you send to an employer should be tailored specifically for the job you are applying for.
You should highlight the elements of your experience or certain previous achievements that are more relevant to each different position. Copying the same résumé for each employer is lazy and employers will notice it. Nobody wants to hire lazy people.
3. Use Keywords
An easy way to help you change each résumé is to read the job advertisement in detail. Identify what skills or attributes they are looking for and use the same keywords when listing your previous responsibilities.
That said, don’t make up responsibilities or tell lies on your Canadian résumé just to include keywords.
4. Use action words
Choose your words carefully. You are limited to about 300 words per page in your résumé so, again, don’t be lazy. Certain words will have more impact and are better used in the past tense. For example:
Achieved, analyzed, coordinated, established, managed, maintained, surpassed, designed, trained, organized, implemented, motivated, determined, showed initiative, improved, produced, assisted, increased, prepared, built, facilitated, eliminated, streamlined.
5. Look over it before sending
One spelling mistake is very bad. Two is unforgivable.
Proofreading and spell check are your new best friends. If you are still not confident in your spelling and grammatical abilities, get a nerdy friend to read over your resume and cover letter before sending them.
Punctuation, grammar and spelling mistakes are like a red flag to a bull for some employers – don’t shoot yourself in the foot!
6. Formatting and layout
This is related to point five above but we feel it is so important that we are making it a separate tip.
An ugly resume will be hard to look at and employers will not enjoy reading it. Have a clear structure with separate sections for your resume. If everything is too close together it will be hard to read – empty space is not wasted!
Use bullet points where possible instead of long sentences and paragraphs. Remember you only have 20 seconds to make a good impression. Use a standard font such as Arial 10.
Justify all text to the left. Headings of new sections such as Work Experience and Education should be bolded and underlined. This helps to break up the page neatly.
There are templates available in Word if you search the “Tools” and you will find other examples of resumes in your WHC Jobs Kit as well as online. Try these for some ideas to get you started.
7. Don’t include personal details
While this may be common in other countries it is not the norm in Canada, so don’t do it.
Details not to put on your Canadian resume include the date of birth or age, marital status, health status, sex or gender, religion, or a photo of yourself.
8. Don’t leave time gaps
Account for all months and years in your resume whether you were working during this time or not. It is always better to account for a period when you were not working than to leave it blank.
Give a clear explanation for this time so that employers are not left wondering if you spend those six months sitting on your couch watching daytime soap operas. Show that you have always had purpose and direction in your life as this transfers to work situations too.
For example, if you took a year out to travel around South America or the Greek Islands – say this. Include it in your work experience section with “Personal Travel” as your employer name and indicate the dates also.
If you kept a travel blog or diary during this time include this as a job responsibility and even if it is just a light-hearted talking point for your interview, it will at least show that you can manage and online blog or website and you may also have some writing skills.
9. Cover Letter
All resumes you submit for any job should include a customized cover letter unless the employer specifically says that cover letters are not required. That means if cover letters are not mentioned in the job description, send one anyway.
It may make you stand out from everyone else and it is also an extra opportunity to highlight extra information to the employer that you could not fit on your resume.
Nearly more so in this case, copy and paste is your job hunting enemy. Employers will know if you send them a letter that is not specifically for that position, so write a new letter for each job application.
Use keywords in your cover letter too. If the job advertisement mentions certain skills or requirements, mention them in your cover letter. If the company has a certain mission statement or agenda that you agree with – say so.
It will show the employer that you are genuinely interested in working for that company or at least that you took the time to read their website.
Say why you want to work for that company and what you can bring to the table or contribute.
Suggesting what you might like to achieve when working for that company or offering ideas is another huge plus that will make you stand out in an employer’s memory!
NOTE: Do not include information that is already in your Canadian resume.
10. Follow Up
If you don’t follow up on applications you send – you may as well not bother sending them in the first place. Make a list of every job you apply for. This includes casual jobs in high street shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Call the employer back or visit the café 3 days later to ask if they have received your application. Express your sincere interest in the position and ask when you might hear some news about your application.
Check out also:
The Ultimate Canadian Resume Guide