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Canadian Resume Guide

The contents of this guide are intended to direct you as you construct your resume for Canadian employment purposes. Your resume is based on your own experiences and skills. Because of that, every resume is unique.

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The following are general guidelines only. You must tailor your resume to suit your own experiences, and to suit the industry you want to work in and the job you are applying for.

What is a Resume?

A resume, sometimes called a curriculum vitae (CV), is a document that contains details about your education, achievements, and employment history,

How to Format Your Resume

There are no strict rules for how to format your Canadian resume, but the following are some guidelines to make your resume look professional and easy to read.

  1. Headings Include a heading above each new section of your resume.
  2. Length Keep your resume between one and two pages long. Longer resumes often go unread, while resumes less than a full page can indicate inexperience.
  3. Font Your font should be consistent throughout your resume. You should use at most two fonts: one for headings and one for content. You should also choose a professional looking font. Your font size should be big enough that it is easy to read when your resume is printed.

Resume Tip

You can add emphasis or style to your resume by bolding or italicizing important words or details. This draws the reader’s eye, so only use it sparingly. You want to highlight the content of your resume, not distract from it.

What to Include in Your Resume

There are four sections that should absolutely be on every Canadian resume:

  • Your name
  • Contact information
  • Work experience
  • Education

You can also choose to include any volunteer experience you have and any awards you’ve received.

1. Name You should include your first and last name, in that order. You do not need to include your middle name(s). You name is the most important part of your resume; it should stand out on the page and be easy to read. Typically, this will be the largest font on your resume.

2. Contact Information Your contact information should be positioned directly below or beside your name. It should include your basic contact information:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Current residential address

It’s important that you include all of this information, so that your prospective employer will be able to follow up with you.

3. Work History Your work history demonstrates your professional experience. List your previous occupations in chronological order. For each occupation, include:

  • Your position
  • The name of the company or institution you worked for
  • The years you held the position
  • Three (3) responsibilities you had or duties you performed in your position.

You can set yourself apart from other candidates by highlighting any policies you implemented, or innovative solutions you came up with in your previous position(s). You may need to highlight different duties depending on the job you are applying for. While remaining truthful to your experiences, don’t be afraid to change the details of this section as needed. Using industry-specific language can help demonstrate your expertise. However, your prospective employer may have limited knowledge of your field. If you use too much industry-specific language, he or she might not be able to understand the scope of your position.

4. Education Start with the highest degree that you have and work down. If you have more than one degree of the same level, order them by relevance to the position you’re applying for. Only include current or completed degrees. For each degree, include:

  • Program of study
  • Name and type of institution that issued the degree
  • The type of degree you earned
  • The years you attended

5. Optional: Volunteer Work Volunteer work is highly valued by Canadian employers. If you have volunteer experience, it can help distinguish you from other candidates. Only include volunteer work that is relevant to the industry that you are seeking work in, or that showcases a trait or characteristic that contributes to your qualification for the position you are applying to. For each volunteer experience, include:

  • Your position
  • The name of the organization you volunteered for
  • The years you held the position
  • Three (3) responsibilities you had or duties you performed

6. Optional: Achievements If you have received any awards or other official recognitions that are relevant to the position you are applying for, you should include them. Limit the achievements you list to the three most relevant and/or significant. Include a short description of what the award was granted for.

What Not to Include in Your Resume

There are some things that may be common to include elsewhere in the world that should not be on your Canadian resume.

1. Overly Personal Information Absolutely do not include any of the following anywhere on your resume:

  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Citizenship status
  • Family status
  • Disability
  • Blood type

2. Information About your Parents Absolutely do not include any information about your parents. Your resume should only include details that are relevant to you and to the position you are applying for.

3. Annexes Do not include any annexes. Your resume should be no more than two pages in total.

4. Personal Pictures You should not include a picture of yourself with your resume.

5. Design elements You should not include design elements such as graphs, tables, icons, or illustrations. If you choose to use colour, keep it simple and make sure that it is easy to read when printed in ‘grayscale’.

6. References You should not include a list of references on your resume. If you reach the stage of the hiring process where references are required, the employer will request them.

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