The first step towards starting a new career in Canada is building your resume to appeal to potential employers. Resumes differ greatly around the world, and in Canada there are best practices that might differ from resumes in other countries.
Below is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you build your best resume to appeal to Canadian employers.
1. Research, research, research
Position titles vary between countries and companies. In Canada, and especially in Ontario, certain professions are highly regulated. This can mean if you’re an engineer in China, you may not be recognized as such in Canada. The Government of Canada uses a National Occupation Classification Code (NOC Code) system to categorize jobs based on the type of work a person does and the types of job duties. Find your NOC Code here to determine your job title, code and skill level. It is also helpful to research positions at the company you’re interested in or applying to as they may have different or unusual naming conventions for job titles.
2. Keep it brief
The general rule is to keep a resume to two pages, but depending on your experience it could be up to three pages. Many employers have to skim through hundreds or thousands of applications so you want to make sure you get straight to the point. “The more information you can provide and the quicker you can offer it, the better off you’ll be,” says Noah.
3. Highlight your accomplishments
When writing about your work experience, list the impactful things you have done throughout your career rather than generic descriptions of your job titles. Noah suggests following a formula called STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Essentially, you want to describe the situation, your responsibilities, what you did and why it worked.
“You’re trying to portray what you offered to the company. Not every line has to be like that but the description should not only be a list of duties,” he says.
Furthermore, you want to devote a section of your resume to awards, education, certifications and any other accomplishments. Noah encourages saving the last line for your hobbies and interests. “Even if they don’t sound that important, they could be. You never know what connection may come out of those.”
4. Include basic personal information only
The key word here is basic. Although it might be commonplace in other countries, employers in Canada are not allowed to ask for extensive personal information upon application.
Include your full name, phone number (ideally a local, Canadian number) and email address.
You are not required to submit a picture or include your marital status or religion. There is no need to include expected salary in your resume — that’s something that can be negotiated later on in the hiring process.
1. Don’t sell yourself short
The resume is about you, not your company. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself as the most desirable candidate of the bunch. “The resumes we look at [in Canada] are about your accomplishments – what did you do, not what your team did.”
2. Don’t make one generic resume
Tailor your resume to best fit with the company you are applying to. “Each resume is specific. One size doesn’t fit all,” says Noah. Highlight how your strengths and experiences can help that company. This is another reason to do thorough research on the company beforehand.
3. Don’t give up
Remember: the job market can be competitive and finding the right role may take some time. There are plenty of sites to help you find the perfect job. Some examples are: Ontario Jobs Watcher, CanadianJobs.com, Monster, Workopolis, Job Bank, Ontario Public Service Careers and recruitment section of different companies (like Jobs at RBC) .
Finally, Noah says it’s worth taking the time to write a cover letter.
“You never know who reads them or if they read them at all,” he says. “But it’s like an interview. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. It’s better to write one than not.”
Here are some financial tips to help you settle in as you look to land your first job in Canada.
Please visit the RBC Newcomers Hub for more useful advice on easing the transition of moving to Canada.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.