Resume styles, structures, and formats differ all around the world. When looking for your first job in Canada, you want employers to see your resume as professional and thorough. Understanding how to format your resume provides you with valuable job-seeking skills. In this article, we discuss what makes a Canadian resume format unique, the two standard resume structures, formatting principles, and seven tips to use when formatting your own resume.
Whether you are new to the job market, or new to Canada and looking for your first position, it’s essential to know the formatting elements that are unique for Canadian resumes, such as:
There are two common structures used in Canadian resume writing: chronological or functional. Here is the basic structure of each type:
A chronological resume focuses on the individual’s work experience, starting with the most recent, and then listing previous positions in the order they occurred. Job seekers who have prior work experience may use a chronological resume to highlight their hands-on expertise. As a general rule, only include the last ten years of experience. You also include any volunteer experience that directly relates to the position.
A functional resume focuses on the individual’s skills and abilities that relate to the position. Using the job description or posting as a guideline, highlight each critical skill or characteristic in your resume. This type of resume is excellent for individuals who have minimal work experience, have gaps in their employment history, are changing careers, or are entering the job market. Since the focus is on your skills and abilities, include your work history after the skills section.
Regardless of whether you use a chronological or functional resume structure, there are some common formatting considerations to keep in mind, including:
At the top of the resume, include a resume header. The header consists of your contact details, including your first and last name, address, phone number, and email address. If you want to include a link to a social media profile, you can also have it in the header. The resume header allows the recruiter or hiring manager to know quickly who the resume belongs to and how to contact them. Often, your first and last name is in a slightly larger or bold font.
Directly below the resume header is the professional or career summary. This is usually three to five sentences highlighting your career accomplishments and achievements. The professional summary focuses on your main strengths and skills related directly to the position’s duties and responsibilities. After reading your professional summary, the recruiter or hiring manager has a better understanding of who you are and what skills and abilities you may bring to the position. Customize this for every job application to address the company and the position’s requirements.
If you are using a chronological resume, you now include your work experience, beginning with your most current position. When listing out your work history for each job, include your job title, when you left the position, the company’s name and location, and the dates of employment. For each job, briefly describe your duties and achievements. This is the place to highlight goals you accomplished, positive changes you implemented, or opportunities that developed your skills.
If you are using a functional resume, include this section before your work experience. Under the headline of relevant skills, list out all the abilities you have related to the position you’re applying for. Detailing specific skill sets and characteristics is especially important if you have little relevant experience. Provide specific examples of your achievements using the related skills you’ve developed and offer quantifiable results when possible. For example, if you increased sales in your particular department by 25% with your customer service, communication, and negotiation skills, highlight this accomplishment in this section.
The last section of a Canadian formatted resume is education. Although the headline title is “education,” this section also includes any training, courses, or seminars relevant to the position. When writing the education section, include your degree, educational institution, and your graduating year. If you are currently working towards obtaining a degree or other designation, you can also include this and state that it is in progress. Start with the program of your most recent graduation and list the ones to follow in order, similar to your work experience. Also, include any honours or academic awards in this section.
Here are seven tips for formatting a Canadian style resume:
You use a resume to secure an interview with the company or organization looking for employees. Including your entire work history is unnecessary. Going into extensive detail about your skills, expertise, and knowledge is best saved for your interview. Instead, focus on your main strengths and make the resume easy to read.
Each time you apply for a position, customize your resume to target the company’s specific requirements. When reviewing a job posting or job description, it is common for essential skills and requirements to be listed first, often in bullet points. Review the top five points and mention your corresponding abilities and experience. The only time you would use a generic resume is applying for an unposted job or applying to a company that isn’t advertising that they are hiring.
Many companies use automated software to complete an initial review of resumes. This software looks for specific keywords, usually related to words within the job posting. Adding these keywords can help your resume pass through initial screening. Focus on words that the employer uses in this job posting about specific skills, technical abilities, characteristics, or knowledge and include these into your professional summary, work experience, and relevant skills sections.
It is unnecessary to include age, sex, gender, marital status, religion, cultural background, or any other identifying labels in Canadian format resumes. Leave out any photos and avoid personal pronouns. Avoid including hobbies or interests unless they specifically relate to the job. For example, if you are applying to be a swimming instructor, you can mention your interest in scuba diving.
When writing your professional summary, skills section, and work experience, be specific and provide quantifiable examples when possible. A resume highlights your best achievements, so use details to accentuate your skills. For example, if referring to your experience with financial budgets, offer an example of how you saved your previous employer $5,000 a year by managing expenses diligently. When providing examples, be honest, as the recruiter or hiring manager may complete a reference check to confirm your information.
Use a cover letter to expand on your skills and experience. A cover letter is an opportunity to elaborate on your strengths and provide context to your resume. Including one is a good idea for any application, since it gives the recruiter or hiring manager the chance to know you better. In addition, many companies use an applicant’s cover letter to evaluate their attention to detail, ability to communicate effectively, and skill level at organizing their thoughts.
Once you have finished writing your Canadian-style resume and cover letter and proofread them both, the last step is submitting your application. You must follow the application instructions exactly as the company requests. Often, companies disregard applications submitted without following instructions, such as sending the application by fax when they specifically requested applications be emailed. Also, the job posting usually specifies the format of the documents required, but if it doesn’t, the two most common options are .pdf or .doc. Most companies can open these two document file types by most software available.