It’s no secret that landing your dream job begins with presenting an outstanding resume. But what are the secrets to developing a resume that will differentiate you from the sea of applicants in the Canadian job market?
In this blog we offer tips on how to write a resume that meets, even exceeds, the expectations of Canadian employers and gets you noticed by hiring managers.
In Canada there are three widely accepted resume formats, including: a reverse chronological resume, a functional resume and, a combination resume.
Reverse Chronological Resume:
Best used by candidates who have a breadth and depth of work experience, usually in the same field, the reverse chronological resume describes work experience in reverse-chronological order. This means that the most recent job is described first and then the resume sites experience and skills for every previous, subsequent position.
This type of resume is preferred by many recruiters and job sites. In fact, in a recent study on resume and interview trends , more than 50% of respondents said they preferred the reverse chronological resume format.
A functional resume highlights abilities and skills rather than career and employment progression. This kind of resume is useful when switching careers or just entering the workforce. This is a solid format to use when there is minimal work history, as it keeps the recruiter focused on abilities and transferrable skills rather than work experience.
A combination resume mixes reverse-chronological and functional resume formats. In other words, employment history is listed in chronological order, while skills acquired in previous jobs are highlighted throughout. This format of resume is ideal when the candidate wants to highlight transferable skills, while also illustrating work experience. The combination resume is commonly used, and by varied job seekers, those with little or no experience, and also by highly experienced candidates.
What to Include in Your Resume
In many parts of the world it is acceptable to include personal information such as birth date, marital status, nationality, or photographs. In Canada these details should not be included as personal details are not required, under employment law.
A resume should be divided into five major parts: contact information, resume summary, work summary, skills and certifications, and education. Try to keep the information concise. According to employment resource centres and recruitment sites, every ten years of experience should equal one page, and no more than two pages.
1. Contact information should include name, Canadian phone number and email address. If you can create a LinkedIn profile, do so as this is a terrific way to attract recruiters. If you have a LinkedIn profile, be sure to include your LinkedIn URL in your resume.
2. The resume summary includes three to four lines of relevant skills sets and experience. A compelling and concise opening summary can go a long way in grabbing the attention of recruiters. According to a recent survey, 56% of recruiters and hiring managers prefer a career summary statement or profile paragraph.
3. The work experience section should outline each role or position the candidate has held in the past, with three to five bullets per role with background information. Be sure to include information about the company or organization. The section should include the position title, name of the organization, the employment timeframe, and a brief overview of the roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments of each role. Be sure to quantify all past accomplishments. A great way to do this is by using the CAR approach when structuring sentences: C= what was the Challenge, A= what Action did you take, R = what was the Result. If you have volunteer experience, include it in the work experience section. Volunteer experience is important to include, particularly if it relates to the job you are applying for.
4. Including special skills and certifications shows your passion and drive and offers evidence of a particular expertise that may set you apart from other candidates. List the certification’s title, include the name of the organization that certified you, list the date your certification was earned (or the date you expect to earn it by) and provide details on skills associated with the certification.
5. The education section should outline the highest level of education achieved, including the university name, location, and graduation year. For new Canadians, consider including a line about the equivalency of the degree or diploma received in your home country.
Adapt your Resume
Having a generic resume may not yield positive outcomes. You are more likely to get the attention of job recruiters if you customize your resume to the job description of the position you are applying for. Include some of the keywords referenced in the job description and try and use action verbs to start each sentence (for example managed, achieved, trained, etc.).
Optimize Your Resume
Many organizations use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to pre-screen resumes before they get to hiring managers and recruiters. An ATS is a software application that enables the electronic management of recruitment and hiring needs. Parametres such as work experience, skills and education are normally screened during the ATS process. It is important to keep ATS in mind when writing your resume; resumes that match pre-determined criteria are then sent to the hiring manager. To optimize your resume for ATS, be sure to use standard formatting (don’t use charts, designs, or tables), and use keywords that match the job description. Send your resume as a Word document as most Applicant Tracking Systems process Word more effectively than PDF files.
Proof Your Resume
Nothing is worse than a spelling mistake or grammatical error in a resume. Proofread your resume and make any necessary revisions. If you can have a friend or colleague proofread it even better, as a second pair of eyes may catch mistakes you have not seen.
Another option for Anderson College students is to contact the Career Services Department – they are ready and willing to help you with your resumes, cover letters and job interview preparation.
A concise, compelling and strategically designed resume is a vital tool in a job search. It not only offers an overview of your top skills and qualities but, can exponentially increase your chances of landing the interview and even your dream job!