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Wondering how to create a great Canadian resume? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Canadian resume format so you can find your perfect job in the Great White North.
Whether you’re a Canadian citizen on the job hunt or just looking to make a move and work in Canada, you’ll need a resume that aligns with the standard formatting used by most Canadian companies. While the difference between a Canadian and US resume is minor (and yes, they do call it a "resume" in Canada, not a CV, although sometimes they’re used interchangeably), it’s important to show a potential employer that you’ve done your research and are taking your job search seriously.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to assemble a Canadian resume, including:
What is the difference between Canadian and American resumes?
What is the best format for a resume in Canada?
Examples of Canadian resume formatting
While American and Canadian resumes are very similar, there are a few subtle differences you should be aware of. Canadian resumes, in general, tend to be more concise and basic in format and place more emphasis on achievements and results, as opposed to job duties and overall responsibilities. They tend to be shorter, around one page long (unless you have many years of experience), and utilize more formal language, whereas an American resume might use more industry-specific terms. Canadian resumes also place less emphasis on an educational background, while American resumes tend to highlight degrees, certifications, and honors front and center. None of these differences are insurmountable, however, so if you have an American resume it would only take a few tweaks to make it align with Canadian standards.
A Canadian resume is fairly straightforward, without a lot of long chunks of text or complicated formatting. There are two types of resumes you can create — a reverse chronological resume, which is most common, or a functional resume. A functional resume highlights the skills you gained in your previous employment, and is best for people who are changing careers, are recent graduates, or have a gap in their career history. To assemble your Canadian resume, consider the following sections.
Like most resumes, the header is placed at the top of the resume and should include the following information:
Your name, including any pertinent certifications or titles
Your phone number and email address
City and province
A LinkedIn profile address, if you have one
Please note that your email address should look professional — this is not the time to share your “[email protected]” address. Wondering what not to include on your resume? Make sure you don’t include any super-personal information, such as a photo, your age, ethnicity/religion, marital status, or any disability. While it is illegal to discriminate against anyone because of these things, it may cause you to fall victim to unconscious bias on the part of the recruiter. It's better to omit it.
While this section isn’t mandatory, it’s a good opportunity to give a brief “pitch” of your experience and qualifications. Don’t editorialize — while it's good to use “power adjectives” to describe your background, avoid hyperbolic statements such as “the best salesman ever in the history of the company.” Keep your summary brief and highlight your relevant experience and accomplishments.
Most Canadian resumes utilize the “reverse chronological” format for resumes, which puts your most recent experience at the top. When listing your work history, make sure to:
Include your job title, employer/company name, location, and dates employed
Use specific, quantifiable data to highlight your accomplishments and achievements
Use bullet points to list your job responsibilities, emphasizing achievements over day-to-day activities
Make sure to incorporate keywords from the job listing to make it through the applicant tracking software
Canadian resumes tend to prioritize experience and achievements over education, so while it should be included, it doesn’t need to be front and center. Include your high school diploma only if you didn’t attend college. And don’t bother listing your GPA, unless you’re a recent graduate and you graduated with honors. Make sure to include:
Degree and area of concentration
Year degree was earned (if less than ten years prior)
In this section, you can list the job-specific hard and soft skills at which you’re proficient, including things like “leadership” or “organization” as well as software and applications you have used in your work. While you can use a scale to rank your proficiency, it’s probably better to include only the skills in which you’re highly adept and leave the others off.
While not mandatory, many Canadian resumes include additional sections to showcase volunteer work, internships/co-op programs, certifications, or awards.
True, Canadian resumes are very similar to US resumes, but there are a few differences you need to keep in mind, especially if you’re applying for a job in Canada from another country — you want to stand out, but not in a negative way! As you’re reviewing your resume, and including your keywords, skills, and power verbs, there are some small but important details you’ll want to keep in mind.
There’s one area that might have never even occurred to you — spelling! Of course, you’re going to proofread for spelling errors, but when it comes to Canadian resumes, there’s a bit more to it than that. Yes, Canadians speak English (and French, depending on the province) but Canada spells certain words a little differently, much like the British do. Here is a brief, non-inclusive list of common words that are spelled differently in Canada that you might want to be aware of while writing your resume.
In addition to spelling, when formatting your Canadian resume, you’ll also want to remember two more things: you should use the metric system, when applicable, and format your date as day/month/year. Otherwise, you might be in for a bit of confusion should you get an interview!
Just like any resume you’d submit for a job, make sure your resume is properly formatted, easy to read, and free from spelling errors. Some other things to keep in mind:
Use a professional font, such as Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Arial.
Incorporate white space to keep your resume from looking dense or hard to read.
Canadian resumes use the standard North American letter size, which is 8.5 x 11 inches with a one-inch margin on all sides.
The majority of Canadian websites accept both PDF and Word documents, but you should save your resume as a PDF to avoid formatting issues when the document is opened unless the job posting expressly requests Word documents.
Integrating the above categories into a sample Canadian resume would look something like this:
Marsha Willingham, PMP Project Manager 623-555-1212 mwillin[email protected] London, Ontario Linkedin.com/in/marsha_willingham
PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY Dedicated, results-focused leader offering extensive expertise in directing aerospace program operations with a focus on business development, quality assurance, and Project Management Lifecycle (PMLC). Analytical strategist adept at positioning businesses for productivity improvement, ensuring the company meets or exceeds regulatory compliance, and maintains excellent customer and vendor relationships. Adept with best practices, change management, and needs assessments. Proficient in multiple software applications and able to learn and master new technologies.
WORK HISTORY Eaton Corporation, Toronto, Ontario Programs & Transition Manager June 2017 – Present
Oversee the project management of airplane and engine components, including scheduling, budget, and reach from beginning to end, encompassing military duct assemblies, bellows joints, check valves, and duct assemblies.
Direct cross-functional HPWT spanning several sites to improve project goals. Gauge project scopes to estimate potential costs.
Conduct regular informational sessions with high-level stakeholders to provide data and technical information.
Surpassed business metrics, including profit plan, for three consecutive years.
Successfully negotiated price increases resulting in more than $1M in profit margins.
Lead strategic initiatives with the sales team and sales management that lead to a 15 – 22 percent increase in overall sales for the last three quarters of 2022.
QNT Logistics, Inc., Toronto, Ontario Repair Engineer June 2015 — June 2017
Executed inspection and evaluation of tubes, ducts, and hoses.
Demonstrated expertise in the properties and safe handling of adhesives, chemical compounds, and cleaning materials as well as an awareness of tube, duct, and hose repair.
Completed NPD evaluation forms that itemized damages and created repair plans appropriate to the system in a timely and efficient manner.
Assisted in DER/FAA Minor workflow for repairs not available per CMM.
Led system automation project to improve streamline communication to improve TAT.
SKILLS Resource Allocation Risk Assessment & Mitigation Data Analysis & Reporting Government Contracts and Proposals
TECHNICAL PROFICIENCIES MFG-Pro SAP Automate MS Project MATLAB Adobe Suite Microsoft Office Suite (+ VBA Code)
EDUCATION Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering Conestoga College, Kitchener, Ontario, 2015
In some cases, you may want to utilize a functional resume instead of a reverse-chronological one, especially if you’re a career changer or a recent graduate. A functional resume highlights your abilities and skills, rather than your career path.
Thomas Ware Sault Ste. Marie, ON 705-123-5678 [email protected]
Forward-thinking, detail-oriented individual offering proven success overseeing office functions with a focus on customer service and executive support. Level-headed and proactive administrator adept at planning, ordering, mail management, and phone systems. Tech-savvy with proficiency in MS Office Suite (including Access) as well as various web-based applications
EDUCATION University of Alberta, Alberta, Ontario Bachelor of Arts in Communications, 2021 3.90 overall GPA
Fast touch-typing – 75 WPM
Customer Service - Fluent in French and Italian
General office support
Fluent in French and Italian
Spreadsheet, word processing, database management
MS Office: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
Competent knowledge of XHTML and CSS computer coding techniques
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY Walker-Thompson Plastics, Kitchener, ON June 2021 - Present Administrative Assistant
Helm the reception desk, field and transfer incoming calls, and receive customers, giving them an outstanding first impression of the company.
Coordinate, sort, and distribute incoming and outgoing mail.
Copy, fax documents, and file paperwork from multiple departments. Order and maintain office supplies.
Plan and facilitate company events such as picnics, parties, and departmental meetings.
Resourced a new office supply vendor yielding an annual savings of $5K a year.
Awarded Employee of the Month five times.
Freelancing & Volunteering May 2020-June 2021 Acton, ON
Assisted in the creation of marketing materials for multiple local charities to promote a series of local telethon and fundraising events by designing announcements and invitations, and establishing and maintaining an Instagram account.
Created a fan site for a local professional theater company and hired and supervised a team of four content moderators. This website was awarded a local Webby award for non-profit organizations.
Taught basic computer skills at the local senior living community.
If you are trying to move to Canada from another country, try to mention any international experience you might have, especially if it's related to Canada in some way. And remember, when formatting your Canadian resume, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a “highlight reel,” and you should save the detailed information for an interview. And, as always, it’s important to tailor your resume for each job for which you apply. It may take a little extra time, but it will show your potential employer that you’re serious about the position, and not just taking a “scattershot” approach to finding a job. Be clear, concise, and straightforward. Your next Canadian job awaits!
Need some assistance creating the perfect resume? Check out our Resume Writing service to take your job search to the next level.
Canadian resumes, in general, tend to be more concise and basic in format and place more emphasis on achievements and results
A reverse chronological format is most common in Canada, but a functional resume might be helpful if you’re a new graduate, changing careers, or have a significant gap in your resume
While the formatting of Canadian resumes is similar to most other countries, remember to use the metric system, format your dates as day/month/year, and be aware of alternate spellings of common words.
Jennifer Inglis is a freelance writer and content creator. A former public school teacher, she has expertise with English literature, writing, and public speaking, as well as an extensive professional background in advertising and media analysis. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in Theater and a master’s degree in Education, and is the author of two published novels.