Canadian Resume and CV Format- Tips and Examples

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One of the major concerns for newcomers is how to land a job shortly after they arrive in Canada. Among other things like optimizing your Linkedin profile, tailoring your resume to a Canadian resume and CV format is important in getting your foot in the door of recruiters and hiring managers.  

Shortly after I landed in Canada, I quickly learned that the way I wrote my CV in my home country is not the same way it’s done in Canada. I had to learn the Canadian way of writing my CV.

In this post, I’ll share with you the various types of CV styles in Canada, examples and templates that you can use.

Is it called a CV or Resume In Canada?

Generally, a resume is about one or two pages in Length whereas a CV is usually more than two pages.  

With this, a CV is more detailed with your experiences and qualifications while a resume is a summary. 

From my experience here in Canada, those looking for senior roles, or roles in academia use CVs while others use resumes. 

What is a Canadian Resume Format?

There are two main styles of writing a resume in Canada- reverse-chronological and functional. They contain the same information, only that their structures are different. Let’s look at them closely:

  1. Reverse-chronological Resume 
  2. Functional Resume

A. Reverse-chronological style:

This style is used when you write your resume starting with your most recent job experience. Most people just refer to it as chronological style as well.

Many people use the structure below when writing their resume in the reverse-chronological style:

I. Header with your basic information like name, phone number, email address

Ii. Career summary

Iii. Your work experience starting from the most recent one

Iv. Your education and professional qualifications

V. Skills relevant to the job you are applying for

1. Header: 

The resume header contains your contact details at the top of your resume like your name, email address, phone number. 

Canadian Resume and CV Format

If you have some accreditations or certifications like ACCA, PNP, etc, you can add them as well.

You might choose to include your work status in Canada on your header as well. While I was job hunting, one of the top questions the recruiters asked was my job status in Canada. Adding it to your resume saves them from wondering if you will need a work visa sponsorship or not. 

2. Career Summary

This is your chance to make a first good impression with the recruiter. It is suggested that this paragraph should be brief and concise.

Canadian Resume and CV Format

It should summarise your achievements and your skills that are relevant to the role you are applying for. 

You can also include the number of years of relevant experience that you have, especially when it’s required in the job description.

Try to avoid generic phrases like ”trustworthy and highly professional”. Instead, use words that are insightful and show your strengths like “effectively coach and mentor subordinates). 

This summary shouldn’t be too long. Remember, it’s a summary, so it should be brief and concise.

3. Work Experience

Starting with your most recent role, provide your responsibilities and achievements.

This section should include the following information:

  1. The company and location
  2. Your start and end dates in that role(month and year). 
  3. Your job title- your prospective employer will conduct a reference check on this, so make sure it’s the actual role you have that is on your resume.
  4. Details of the role: 

In a Canadian resume and CV format, rather than writing your job description on the role, it is recommended that you back them up with some quantitative or qualitative achievements. 

You can also include some of the words used in your prospective job description in your resume. But be careful not to overdo this so you don’t get flagged by ATS(Applicants tracking System).

4. Education and Professional Qualifications

Here’s where you’d list any qualifications you have that are relevant to the role that you are applying for. Remember to include the dates of these certifications as well. 

Canadian Resume and CV Format

5. Skills

Here, I prefer to have a mix of hard and soft skills. 

I would also include any technical tools that I’m proficient in. For example, those in the marketing field might include their use of Google Analytics here if it’s not already included in the description of any of the roles in the professional experience section. 

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B. Functional Resume

If you don’t want to focus on your work history, a functional resume might be a preferred option. In a Canadian resume and CV format, a functional resumé focuses on specific skills that relate directly to the job you are applying to. 

When to use a functional resume:

  • Making a career change
  • First-time job search 
  • Re-entering the workforce after raising a family
  • Job search after a period of illness or travel
  • Wanting to focus on skills you’ve used in several unrelated jobs

How to write a functional resume

A functional resume includes the following elements:

Here are the sections you need to add to your functional resume:

  • Your personal information
  • Summary or objective
  • Essential skills
  • Education
  • Professional experience
1. Your Personal Information:

This includes your name, phone number, email address, professional website relevant to the role you are applying for. 

Canadian Resume and CV Format
2. Summary or Objective: 

Here, you can highlight your experience, professional goals and also the reason you are applying for the role. Remember to quantify your achievements.

3. Essential skills

Instead of writing the history of your job roles as you will find in the reverse-chronological resume format, here, you have to relate your skills to the job you are applying for.

For example:

Data Analysis: 

  • Created a dashboard that helped to reduce the time spent on data analysis by 35% 
  • Prepared the addressable market analysis that helped stakeholders in creating the company’s business plan

As described above, include quantifiable insights in your description of each skill, i.e, the results of the actions you took on the job. 

Canadian Resume and CV Format
4. Education:

Here, include the following:

  • Your degree
  • The University in which you obtained the degree

5. Professional Experience:

This section should be very brief, plus you don’t need to list your functions or dates for each role unless you feel differently. 

Tips for writing a Canadian-style resume

  1. Adapt your resume to each job role you are applying for:
    1. Include keywords from the job description in the work experience section of your resume.
    2. Include actionable insights into your achievements when writing your descriptions. For example, “I did X and the results were y%.
  2. Write out the full meanings of any abbreviations you might have in your resume.
  3. Use shorter sentences & avoid long paragraphs.
  4. Use the standard font(Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial) and font size. If possible, avoid font sizes below 10.
  5. Check for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.
    1. You can use Grammarly or some other free online tools to check this
  6. Proofread your resume as many times as you can.
  7. Try to keep your resume to a maximum of two pages.
  8. Send your resume as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) document. Most ATS systems tend to process Word files better than PDF.
  9. Try not to exaggerate your achievement and don’t undersell yourself either.
  10. If adding a cover letter, keep it at one page.

Overall, what you’ve seen in this post is a guide. So, feel free to adapt your resume as needed. Good luck in your job search here in Canada. If you have more tips or questions, please leave them in the comments section below. 

Read on>> How this software developer got his first job in Canada

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